August 28, 2008

My Kinda Guy

Let's be honest. Hunter S. Thompson was probably bat-shit crazy. After seeing Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S.Thompson this Bug has come to a few conclusions. Understand that it would be pretentious of me to have an authoritative opinion on the man since I knew nothing of him before Johnny Depp portrayed him in Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas, so I'll just share my humble observations.

  • He had a kick ass, devil-may-care approach to his work. This Bug likes that.
  • Deadlines, schmedlines. People will wait if your work is undeniably worthwhile.
  • He was suicidal long before his adult son heard what he thought was a huge book drop from the next room.
  • It takes a special type of individual to consume the amount of mescaline and Wild Turkey that he did and go about working as if he took five for tea and crumpets.
  • The dude loved guns. Man, did he love guns.
  • He was never afraid to point out governmental cowards or flip them the bird. This Bug really likes that.
  • America lost Hunter Thompson the Genius to Hunter Thompson the Cynic. But America crafted Hunter Thompson the Cynic and thus should take its due lumps for playing that role.
  • Someone has yet to fill the cavernous void left by the Mad Hatter of journalism.
  • Smarminess simply was not in his genetic makeup. Period.
  • That kind of cool can't be bought nor taught.
Anyway, I'm not here to give you a bio of this literary maverick. If you're curious enough, you'll seek him out. If not, just know that proof exists that true genius cannot follow all the rules and is indeed touched with a bit of madness. And if you already knew about Hunter S. Thompson and how he felt about disco, then I've probably come off as pretentious anyway, haven't I? Well then, in the spirit of Gonzo I say this. "A word to the wise is infuriating." Get the f*ck over it.

August 26, 2008

never be the same again

It's strange. I feel a bit weightless- as ironic as that sounds. As if I'm hovering above my own head, watching the events play out as they occur. I'll never know if it was too much food...It all tumbled out accidentally. I tried my best to scoop out all those dreadful blood worms. I did. I'll never know if it was a lethal dose of dechlorinator that I used to top off the bowl instead of changing the water entirely. Perhaps it was the deadly combination of both. Either Logan is gone. And my world is just a little bit emptier than it was before.

August 24, 2008

The Eyes Have It

I'm no snowbird, not by a long shot. When I first decided to visit Jamaica, it was my first time leaving the Continental US since I came from my little twin island years before. It was the middle of January and I was just excited about thawing out in a more desirable climate. For the flight, I picked up a few magazines to occupy myself, one selection being King magazine. Sidebar: One of my guilty pleasures consists of poring over misogynistic glossies. It gives me a bird's eye view of the horny counterculture I've come to know so well. My moral compass doesn't exactly point due north, but that condition has been...well..conditioned. Anyway, while thumbing through the pages, I spotted an item that seemed apropos to my getaway. The truth behind the famous wet t-shirt Jamaica poster that caused many to stop and salivate stare. Instantly, I recognized it from countless record shops and travel agency windows of yesteryear.

Upon reading, I learned two very significant things. Firstly, the luscious beauty in the Jamaica ad is none other than Trinidad native Sintra Bronte. Words can't describe the merriment this little factoid filled me with. Can you say 'bait and switch', Boys and Girls? Apparently, what you see ain't necessarily what you get. So for all those titillated tourists who scurried down to 'Yard' in search of similar hot young 'tings', they were likely disappointed. For the fine island women sweet like 'Julie' mango- a trip to Trinidad would have fared disrespect to the rest of my Caribbean sisters.

As I read on, I discovered something even more interesting. Something that spoke to me louder than any nationalistic pride. Bronte is quoted in The Jamaica Gleaner: "The photographer said to me, 'Sintra, I want you to think of the most beautiful thing or person while posing.' I thought of a Jamaican man I had fallen in love with from the first day I set my eyes on him. That picture was dedicated to him and will be for the rest of my life." This resonated with me on so many levels. When I look at that poster now- I am drawn to the look in her eyes. She looks to me quite simply, like a woman in love.

On any given day, I can mentally retrieve a myriad of pictures of myself that captures her exact sentiment. For the intended viewer, it was crystalline with just one look into my pupils. In each photo there is no denying that I was bar none, unequivocally, head-over-heels in love. My own eyes speak of a permanent devotion forever tucked away from others. Away from prying eyes and curious bodies- longing to know what my soul tastes like. Only one person knows. My eyes could never mask that. Sintra has been there...truly, madly, deeply. And so have I.

August 22, 2008

Wanted: Cute Shoes and Good Drinks

What exactly is the definition of Cabin Fever? I don't know and I don't feel like Googling it right now. But I do know that I'm suffering from something like it. It's been a while since I threw on the Freakum dress and a fierce pair of heels to go party with my girls. I need to step out, sip a drink, move to some music and do some harmless flirting with a stranger. It's true. I need a girls night out ala Carrie & Co. Hold the Cosmos, it's so passé. I'll settle for my old standby: Goose and Cran in a nicely lit lounge. The sad truth is- all of my girlfriends are scattered nationwide or just too damn busy to paint the town red with me. I don't want to get drunk. I can do that at home while cooking a magnificent dinner. That was last week, actually...but I digress. I don't need wild Studio 54 shenanigans, just some cocktails and the typical girl gossip. Some late night cheesecake to cap the night off wouldn't hurt either. Hey, that's how I like to end a night of blaring music and potent potables. Don't judge. What's a bored shitless girl to do?

August 21, 2008

In Dreams and Waking Life

Boxing Day 1967

Solid gold ring on a satin pillow.
You have no idea how short your time will be.
She, only 18 and he a mere 22.
Is this out of love,
or the dangling stigma attached
to unwed mothers?
Do you really love each other?
So young. Do you know?
Love doesn’t look like a coffee stain on the wall.
The porcelain in a trillion pieces.
There’ll be Ajax mixed in
where sugar should be.
You’ll try to kill each other, you know.
With all the passion you have for each other.
Please make it count.
Your time is so short.
Death will do you part.
My mother at 20 has no idea her life
is half over.
My father at 24 still thinks it’s ok to smoke
Around my mother-
8 months swollen with my asthmatic sister.
Just make it count.
Your time
is so very short.
I love you both.
You love each other.
You just won’t know it
until your time together
has gone
the way of the four winds.
So just please…
Make it count.

When I wrote the above poem, I was enrolled in a creative writing class two years ago. The exercise was to go back in time and speak to someone you now know. I chose my parents on their wedding day. Looking back on it, I have no doubt that they made it count; their time together. But the truth of it is, I can only assume. All I have are my own memories and forfeited chances to connect with her.

August 20, 1990. The day is gray and pregnant with tears when I go to the hospital one last time. I am thirteen and do not want to go. I am much more interested in doing whatever it is a thirteen year old would rather be doing. But my bike lay abandoned in our driveway and I had no one to walk to the corner store with, to purchase sweets and magazines that day. So I went. I said my last goodbye. That night, the house is filled with food that goes uneaten and well-wishers meant to console. But I don’t want comforting. I do not need it. I do not cry that night- or the next. Three months later, a friend waits outside for me as I charge about my room, stuffing change in my pockets. I swiftly throw my feet into my mom's bubble gum pink Reeboks (we wore the same size) and make my way downstairs. I swing into the bedroom to hurriedly say- like so many times before, “Mommy, ah runnin’ to the store wit Jill- ah comin’ back just now.” But she is not there. My God. She. Is. Not. There. It hits me. I sit down on the neatly made bed and proceed to break…Finally. My father wondered when it would happen. My eldest sister is grateful. I have officially allowed myself to feel the loss. December comes. We are reading The Friends in my English Lit class. Overwhelmed by how much the book mirrors my own young life, I run blindly out of the classroom. I slump down in the hallway against the lockers, an ocean of tears unleashed. It is the last time I cry for her, directly.

There were so many times I questioned why this woman left my life so soon. I can recall waking at 5 a.m. Ritually getting on my knees. Asking God to keep her around just long enough to see me graduate high school or make Honor Roll again. Those and the like, are the foolish requests I made. As if I would somehow be alright if she was taken the very next day. If I had been twenty years old when she was ill, cancer devouring her body from within- I may have asked to keep her alive long enough to see me graduate college or get married. Who knows. Or would I have known better by then?

Years later, I am in the handbag section of a department store. I am with my significant other. It’s Mother’s Day. He needs help selecting a gift for his mom. All I see are fabulous purses that my mother would love. Every bag I pick out- he claims is too flashy or high-end for his mother. I explode. Make a scene. Tell him that his mother is so God damn plain and has no sense of style. "Pick one and let’s go! I want to get the fuck out of here." But my rage is displaced. I only wish I could buy one for my own beautiful mother, long gone. The tears well. They do not travel down the contours of my face, drop down to their rightful place of healing. ought to know...she had impeccable style-I want to say. Nothing comes. I leave the store ashamed.

It’s late at night and my mother is sitting at the foot of my bed. She cannot stay long. In my dreams, she never can. Always traveling with a large group, she has only moments to check in with me before being on her way to help others. I later find out that when she visits my sisters in dreams, it is very much the same. But tonight she is not urgent. Her manner is more relaxed. She looks upon me with passive eyes. For the first time in a long time, she is not worried or displeased with what she sees.

A few inquiries on her grandchildren but then she must go. She also wants to know how Daddy is. Does he still want his food served for him as though he’s too regal to do it for himself? Deep down I know he’s just tired. He doesn’t ask for much. She never seemed to mind, so I try not to either. I tell her that he needs to remember he only had one wife. Her smile shows amusement and a knowing that is hers alone.

I am not my mother. I see her now, soft auburn hair spilling from a loose bun while she absently shuffles through the mail. She smells of Estée Lauder and spearmint gum. She was always right where she needed to be, unlike me. There is no one to blame. But I blame it on the time. It never was enough, especially not now. She has to go. I wonder why I do not cry for her. I truly love her but I cannot cry. It’s almost like she never left, but she did.

What she left behind is a mosaic of herself in each of the girl children. A proclivity to travel in my middle sister, a Mona Lisa smile in my youngest niece, an intuition in myself. We are all so solidly her in so many ways- that I tend to forget...until I witness my father watching one of us. A lifetime of love behind his weary eyes. They made it count. I know this now.

August 19, 2008

You don't say ?

So this past weekend, I walk into my preferred smoke shop to re-up on my kreteks of choice. They know me. I know them. We have an understanding. But it was later at night than I usually go, so I got carded by a newbie. As I wait for the cashier to compare the horrible driver’s license photo to what is standing (impatiently) before him, I notice that I’m being stared at by an odd looking character. The I.D. is handed back to me. I dig in my purse to pay Johnny-Come-Lately. Odd looking character speaks:

“Anyone ever tell you that you look like a young Claire Huxtable?”

I smile politely. Grab the cloves. Make a beeline for the door. I make it to the parking lot without having to allude to the imaginary boyfriend waiting out in the car. As I drive off I realize that it’s not so bad to be carded at my age AND be compared to one of the flyest TV moms ever. Classy, witty, beautiful, eloquent…

Yeah, I’m feelin’ that.

August 13, 2008

It's A Thrall World After All

Welcome to the Tragic Kingdom. We've got a charming mouse, delightful fairy princesses and...Oh yeah, a sprinkling of jigaboo yes-men and tireless Mammy types. It's no secret that Disney loves to keep its finger on the pulse of all things enchanting. What you may not know is that they also love to sneak a lot of disenchanting things into their animation. It may be just for kicks. Or it may be to stealthily plant seeds of racism and sexism in the fertile minds of children. How can you not adore the lovely coquettes Disney has been creating since the beginning of time?

But for the gaggles of sweet characters they have steadily cranked out over the years, there are a few to fall out of love with faster than you can say Zippidee Do Dah . I first discovered an undesirable while watching The Little Mermaid several years ago. Boy, dat blackfish sho' could sing, yes indeedy.

Granted, my head was in a billowing cloud of Hashish when I caught it- but that's probably the very reason I even spotted this offensive little sucker in the first damn place. Besides, I'm not here to discuss why I was watching cartoons while in an altered state... More on that some other time.

Let's start with Sunflower; a black centaur who served the white centaurs in Fantasia.

Wow. A cute little pickininny creature who dutifully shines the hooves of the pretty, lily-white centaurs. When Disney released the 50th Anniversary Edition DVD, Sunflower was mysteriously missing. In fact the editing was so choppy from her complete removal, that the audio is terribly out of sync during the segment set to Beethoven's "Pastoral Symphony". Below is a snippet from the original release.

According to Disney, she never existed. Neither did doting shoe-shine gals and guys. What delusional planet do YOU live on? Your eyes must deceive you! Why, the good-natured folks at Disney have built their legacy on dazzling animation and heartwarming family values. Right. And the Tooth Fairy just dropped off the residual payment for my wisdom teeth last night...

But let's not paint Disney as an Evil Empire just yet. They do it for the kids. It's hard work bringing smiles to the faces of children. They also understand that you would be bored silly if not for a splash of adult humor. Check out Toy Story's Buzz Lightyear diagnosing Woody's "laser envy" when the latter is none too happy with Little Bo Peep's fawning and mocks Lightyear's gadgets. Hardly a joke a 5 year old would get. What's the harm in that? It goes over most heads anyway, right? Wrong. Consult the young boy who pointed out to his mother that when Simba plops down on a cliff in The Lion King, the letters S-E-X materialize out of the dust cloud. The jury is still out on that one, but if you understand how intricate the animation process truly is; you can deduce that vague images are hardly coincidental.

Disney has been approached on numerous occasions for their overt racism. Somehow, they always come out smelling sweeter than a timeless rose encased in glass. Insert shameless Beauty and the Beast plug here. But they are actually making strides. Enter Tiana:

Soon-to-be-released The Princess and The Frog: An American Fairy Tale introduces Disney's first Afro-American darling.

When Disney announced it was casting its first black princess for its latest animation film, the African-American heroine was hailed as a positive role model for little girls and an ambitious marketing ploy, not to mention an attempt to ward off the allegations of racism that have lurked since the heyday of Walt Disney Productions in the 1940s and 1950s. Disney commented: "The story takes place in the charming elegance and grandeur of New Orleans' fabled French Quarter during the Jazz Age... Princess Tiana will be a heroine in the great tradition of Disney's rich animated fairy tale legacy, and all other characters and aspects of the story will be treated with the greatest respect and sensitivity."

Magical. Respect and sensitivity. Complete with narration by a toothless firefly with an unmistakably lazy 'good ole Negro' drawl. What's not to love? Man, that Tinkerbell pixie dust really does work wonders.

Aww, Disney...You've come a long way, Baby!

August 12, 2008

Once more, With Feeling

If we're only as good as our best effort, why do we sometimes give less than that? I examine this periodically, not out of judgment on others, but judgment of myself.
We all have an instinct, an intuition that lets us know: This is it. It's now or never. Give it all you have and nothing less.

I am prime procrastinator de facto. It's true. There are times when I know something should have been done, but it lies there for me waiting for me the doing, if that makes any sense. I used to blame it on my zodiac sign. The wayward crab who seems to be walking sideways with no true direction. Only to the untrained eye do Cancers appear to be adrift. Here's a little known fact: We know exactly where we're headed. With me, the trouble is not in the going but in the getting started. At the same token, once I decide to do something, I am a rabid dog. I am Cujo at the station wagon. There is no relenting until I'm finished. Completion is important but what is there to complete if you never start?

I have a million ideas floating around in my head. Countless scraps of paper strewn about are proof positive that the writer in me is alive and kicking. Now all I have to do is get them down in legible format and pitch them to the proper vehicle. Once the drumming begins, the cadence is undeniable.

It's times like these that you have to draw on whatever inspires you. Granted, it all comes from within but it never hurts to look outwardly for motivation. That being said, I want to send a special thanks to all that have inspired me when my best effort was not even born yet. The nudge, the tough love, the brutal but fundamental honesty.

You know who you are.

August 9, 2008

Worth dyin' for, worth killin' for.

This is me at my most indulgent. What is it about Massaman Curry Chicken ? Words escape me as I try to articulate its sweet and savory righteousness. About ten years ago I was introduced to Thai cuisine and never looked back. It’s the only thing I ever order when I go, no matter the Thai restaurant. The only thing. Ever. There is something about the coconut milk, the spice and warmth, that readies me for death with the first forkful. The delicate marriage of potatoes, peanuts and chicken is genuine perfection. It’s something like a first kiss with the person who has occupied your thoughts for an extended period of time. My relationship affair with Massaman has only grown more passionate with time. I would kill for it. So much so, that I completely identify with Johnny Depp’s sociopathic reasoning in Once Upon A Time in Mexico.

I steady my trigger finger around a glass of plum wine. When a creation is that good…balance must be restored at once. Ah, Sweet Massaman. The flavor is everything that is right and wonderful about the world. My last rendezvous with Massaman was in Miami. A quaint place called Bangkok Bangkok. You should swing by if you’re ever in that neck of the woods. Amazing. The cook is still alive for one reason. I left my .45 at the hotel that evening.

August 8, 2008

Effective Advertising or Just Plain Rage?

The name Kelly Forbes may not immediately ring bells. Aside from the controversy which normally surrounds a story of a wife killing her husband, there was nothing particularly special about this news item. But this story caught my eye and didn't let go. For one, the suspect in question was from Trinidad and Tobago. Instantly, that fact alone drew me in. I read the article and said, "Aww Hoh...a Trini make de news?" As I read on, the details of her husband's death made the story all the more fascinating to me. It turns out, this woman at 5'5 and 150 lbs. was able to overpower and strangle a man who outweighed her by 100 lbs. and stood at least a foot taller than she. A toxicology report revealed there were no sedatives found in Michael Forbes' system. Investigators were baffled.

To make things even more interesting, the weapon of choice was an orange, heavy-duty extension cord. You know, the kind that no one seems to have until there's a block party and soon they're running down driveways,criss-crossing the pavement to provide the tunes at the proper decibel. Yeah, that kind. Anyway, my sister and I sat around one day discussing the tragedy and humour of this story. She looked up from the paper and remarked, "Man, yuh mustn't piss off a Trini woman, eh? Yuh doh know what dey can do!" We chuckled about it and then she went on to say that the extension cord must have come from Home Depot and may have even cultivated some courage in Mrs. Forbes to pull off such a task. "How so?" I asked.
We erupted into laughter when she reminded me of their slogan.

I don't want to trivialize the death of a man. Loss of human life is always sad and I wish it had not been the case. But I can't help but wonder that perhaps there is such a thing as too effective advertising. Kelly Forbes is shrouded in mystery. We don't know if she was an abused woman who simply snapped, or if she's an evil woman with Gladiator-like strength on reserve. What we do know is that she found more than one use for an extension cord. No block parties were scheduled by the way. Trinidadians have a saying. "Stone fall in yuh garden." It means you have guilt about something you have done. Well, they seem to have fallen around Kelly Forbes. A jury has convicted the Long Island woman of manslaughter, rejecting her claims of self-defense.

It seems to me that everyone would have been better off had she applied the slogan of Home Depot's main competitor to her marriage instead.

Perhaps they would still be newlyweds, both alive and constructing a life as one...No extension cord needed.

August 6, 2008

Sight Unseen

Don’t call it ‘psychic’. I hate that. I hear psychic and think of ridiculous, gypsy-clad charlatans asking interrogative questions more than giving one’s perception of what is before them. Don’t call me a soothsayer, medium, prophetess or any of the like. It rattles me. What I possess I prefer to call ‘the sight’. I believe that I can see what others cannot. It was not always this way. It all began very gradually.

When I was six years old, I went on a vacation to Disneyworld with my immediate family. This was my very first time leaving my native country and I was introduced to the States, resplendent with youthful fantasy. The usual; Mickey Mouse, the Magic Kingdom and every fairytale princess I wanted to be at such a tender age. But my recollections of that joyful time are dwarfed by something much more foreboding. I was sitting next to my mother on the plane heading back to Trinidad. Still giddy from my experiences of meeting Snow White and riding in the Teacups, I dozed off with a smile on my face. When I awoke, I was very alert. I turned to my mother and calmly said, “Rex is dead”. Her brow furrowed a moment before smoothing out. She flippantly decided that I had dreamt about our dog back at home and awoke speaking nonsense. We arrived home safely that evening and got settled in. My father went over to our neighbor who agreed to keep an eye on things while we were away. When he returned, his face bore the grave look of an unwilling undertaker. His words measured out with care, came slowly. “Rex…is…dead.” My sisters and mothers gasped with disbelief. What followed was my mother, holding my face in both her hands, demanding to know what had made me speak those very words just a few hours earlier. I had no response. I just knew. In retrospect, I favorably did not know the details of his death. I hadn’t seen that, thank God. Incidentally, two burglars came to rob our home the night before, and our Rex attacked the duo, only to have his throat slit inhumanely. They abandoned their heist when the noise brought unwanted attention from nearby houses. Our neighbor buried him in our yard. It didn’t even make sense to me. At the time, I had no idea that this was just a glimpse into the sight I later learned to accept.

The peculiar thing about this so-called gift was that it honed itself approximately every seven years of my life. In my early adolescence the signs grew more striking. There were times I lay awake at night and distinctly heard fragments of conversations spoken in the very room I was in. Alone and confused, the voices would reach my ears and swim around in my head. They were not inventions of an idle brain; these voices were all too real. Days later, in passing I would hear the exact conversations, word for word. This was not vague déjà vu. I literally heard these people speaking just nights before. It was unnerving and I didn’t know what to make of it. Fearing some sort of mental instability, I shared this with no one. Clairvoyance was the last thing on my mind.

It took some time for me to fully comprehend and respect this gift. There were other incidents. A strange feeling or a random thought would manifest itself into my immediate reality. Once, walking up my street to catch the bus I thought, ‘It would be so unfortunate if there was an accident on this block.’ Within minutes, I rounded the corner to the sound of screeching breaks and the unmistakable impact of metal hitting flesh and bone. A man lay in the street. It was jarring but I was enveloped by a cool sense of calm- which I now recognize as innate perception.

People often josh me about lottery numbers or who will win some celebrated sporting event. I wish it worked that way but it doesn’t. The truth is I have no say-so on what I see or feel beyond my five senses. It visits me for a time and then it’s gone. For a bit I investigated palm reading. That was interesting but not my forte. I did learn however that what most forecasters can see on the lines of a hand, I could see in a person’s eyes. But that happens to leave both parties feeling exposed and uncomfortable so I shy away from it. I may never know why I have this ability. Like any other gift from above, I understand that it can be taken away. Born into another time, I might have burned at the stake for heresy. "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread." -Alexander Pope.

I try never to lose sight of that.

August 5, 2008

As Real As It Gets

"Smack Tina Turner- give her flashbacks of Ike!" - The Notorious B.I.G

Two words: Classic Material. We all know the story. Boy Meets Girl. Boy Beats Girl. Girl Divorces Boy. That spanned about 20 years before it all came to an end in 1976. Then, Girl Takes Over World with Luscious Legs and Huge Hair. Perhaps you saw the tasteful headline
IKE 'BEATS' TINA TO DEATH And even if you didn't, you at least caught Larry...ahem...Laurence Fishburne's terrifying albeit comical interpretation of the myth and the legend. I can't wax poetic on blues music or domestic violence. I can however, certainly appreciate when a picture is worth 1000 words.
Laugh now. Cry later.

August 2, 2008

Try It Sometime

Okay. It's been a month since I returned from Miami. It was nothing major. I just really needed to get away. Away from manning front desks, shuttling nieces and nephews and mandatory grocery missions. I needed to unplug. It's funny how almost a month later people are still asking why I went on vacation by myself.

Is it so wildly outrageous for a grown woman to pick up and whisk herself away instead of waiting for the perfect moment to happen to her? No man or monetary windfall needed? There are two types of people in this world. People who things happen to- and people who make things happen. So if I fall into the latter category, you can understand why this inquiry is starting to annoy me.

My first instinct is to ask them why they feel that one should always be accompanied on a trip. Are you not comfortable enough with yourself to simply

But that reply is snide and snobbish so I smile and simply say, "You should try it sometime."

August 1, 2008

The Man with The Child in His Eyes

His capacity to love always exceeded his ability to praise. You just had to know what he meant. Of all the darts he threw, I never quite figured out what to hurl or what to hold. I kept it all. With gentle eyes that could cut you in half when you weren’t in his good graces. His resilience unmatched, I watched as he buried his own dreams to make mine come true. A proud man and hard man but loving all the same. He remains the one unwavering thing in my world.
Daddy’s new ways are his old ones. He still wakes far too early, still smokes a pack a day and still boasts that I’m the closest thing to a son he ever had. “A good right hook will beat any style of martial arts…but you have to land it first.” And I did.
My father gave me his temperament more than his neatness. He taught me to be sure of myself, to not seek approval. He wanted me to be tough and beautiful all at once. And punctual to a fault.
“Better to be an hour early than one minute late.” I wish I had taken that from him, too. But alas, I am my mother’s child. Or so he says.

The Gift

Vincent LaCroix dropped in today. He said he was in a New York state of mind so he traveled 700 miles to my door. I am numb. Nearly fifteen years later and he is still cool as a fan, sharp as a tack. He has something for me. A square black box wrapped with a simple green ribbon. I am afraid to open it. I fear being sixteen again. Head over heels and intoxicated. Drunk on a potency known only to those unafraid to love.

He cannot stay, but asks that I open the gift when he leaves. I dip in and out of corners in my mind. I am reeling on memories I believed were long since buried. The box contains my heart. In it lies everything I ever loved about life, myself and him. Timeworn notebook papers bound to one another are actually a short story we penned together years ago. There is an untitled compact disc, which I later learn is carefully comprised of every song that divulge the story of us. And a black & white picture I took of him sitting on my front step of the house I grew up in. A veritable throwback from my early days of photojournalism. He is casually back on his haunches, palms flat. His head cocked ever so slightly to one side.What lies behind the camera reaches me before the image can. His eyes are responsible for my gladness. His lips remain warm. His arms too, are strong. This I recall without sadness.

Still, seawater fuses my eyesight. How I wish I had a gift to give in return. Something he would tear through with a child’s delight on Christmas morning. Something he could keep for all time, long after the wrapping has been swept away.

The box stays in the closet now. It remains unopened. So shall it be. The gift and me.

Ladybug Musings

It's not that I don't believe in fairy tales anymore. I do. They carry with them their own validity. But we reside in an imperfect world. The fragility of this sometimes brittle life breaks against itself. What are we left with after that? What can we say once the truth snatches the warm blanket off our comfortable, if not contrived existences?

It's not that I haven't been there. I have. I see her now like it was yesterday. That girl in the mirror. She ties the ribbon in a silly way, lovingly. At the time, it was the most instinctive of movements. Nothing to fear. Bold in her declarations of love. But who can be held accountable for words spoken while the stars are in their eyes?

Nowadays, stoic meetings and to-do lists have replaced tempestuous exchanges. On mornings, I rake a comb through my hair and bristle at the necessity of it all. Schedules and deadlines and grown-up business leave me unobservant of all those pretty things that came before.

But every now and then, with the frequency of a comet, I pick up a pen and gather it all. And revisit a place where I still laugh and wish.

I Hate CVS

Waiting in line at CVS is always a treat, but what you may not know is that the front counter is a strategic and airtight operation, involving key players and military precision.

"Cast of Characters"

Cashier 1 - She came with the building and will take no shit from anyone this morning, thank you very much, now do you have your club card ?

Cashier 2 - Cell texting dynamo whose entire collection of gold plated accessories must be worn at all times. You can't work a register when a baller's calling, so she ain't helping you.

Cashier 3 - Pacer. She walks back and forth behind the counter, moving one item at a time from top shelf to bottom shelf and then back again because the best thing to do when a line is aisle-deep is look busy enough not to have to open a second register.

Cashier 4 - Where the f**k did she go, she was JUST here!

Cashier 5 - C'mon now - you think they actually have a Cashier 5?

Stock Guy - Sitting on box of Garnier Fructis samples, blissfully contemplating a change in career...ok that part is bullshit. Asshole is sitting on my leave in conditioner.

Manager - In the back with cashier 5.

Asst. Manager - Up front, trying to distract Donny the Bum from getting another free pack of matches.

Donny the Bum - Gets free matches here.

Photo Guy - He's there. He's just standing there. He knows you want him to say 'cash only' and invite you up. Nope. He's photo guy. Don't mess.

Pharmacy Cashier - She doesn't speak English. She has your pills. Do the math.

Pharmacist - Uptight jerk in a glorified lab coat who delights in the following statements:
"When we said it'd be ready by 4:30, we meant we'd check if we had it by 4:30."
"You have to call your doctor and then have him call us and then we'll call him back to get the approval."
"No you can't get your prescription back, it's already been processed."
"Go to another CVS, but you have to call your doctor for another prescription."
"We don't have penicillin."

Did I miss anyone?