Archive for choices

Train Hopping

Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2010 by 1writegirl

Glory days
They’ll pass you by, glory days
In the wink of a young girl’s eye, glory days
.
–– Bruce Springsteen

When I was a young girl and my life was full of fresh ripe choices every which way I turned, I found myself almost incapable of staying anywhere for long. The year I graduated from college and moved to L.A. to take a job with a major airline, I moved seven times, from one end of the state to the other and back before flinging myself 3,000 miles away to see what other possibilities might await. Such is the glory of youth, the unwavering and compelling faith that each move you make in a new direction will be a better move than the one you made before; the perception that there are no wrong or bad choices, only adventures of one sort or another.

I traveled exclusively by car in those days for my domestic transitions, and got on a bus or an airplane only every now and then to visit my family. Traveling to Europe, though I would have loved to book a passage on the QE2 had my circumstances allowed, was undertaken necessarily by plane. I wonder now that it didn’t occur to me to find a wealthy old dowager who was preparing to cross the Atlantic in need of a companion, or a couple with children in search of a nanny.

Like most Americans of my generation, I’d seen movies about trains, read books about trains, and learned about the importance of rail travel during American westward expansion in History class at school. Trains, in my mind, were associated with romance, the wild west, old money, mystique, and of course, a criminal element. But rail travel, at least while I was growing up, was either too spotty or too expensive or both to make it a viable form of transportation for trips of any length. So it was while I was in Europe, tenderly and enthusiastically just turned eighteen, that I rode my first train; where it was and still is the preferred method of transportation because it is efficient, cost-effective and highly accessible. I remember zooming southward out of Paris on the TGV, the first of many train trips I would make over the next two months within and between countries, and wondering what lurid and mysterious situations I might encounter. You can’t read Murder on the Orient Express or watch Hitchcock’s “Strangers on a Train” under the age of twenty and expect your first excursion on a train to be anything less than a potentially sinister affair. Mine, as it turns out, was more sordid than sinister. I was cornered in an otherwise empty car while traveling at 180 mph or so through a tunnel by a probably-drunk Frenchman in a business suit who simultaneously clapped a hand over my mouth and attempted to force his way under my skirt. I managed to free myself with a good bit of elbow thrusting and one or two well-aimed or just lucky kicks, and hurtled myself out of the compartment, down the passageway and into the dining car where I remained, skittish and hyper-alert, for the duration of the journey.

Undeterred, I continued to think of train travel as a desirous form of transportation, and still do. I have, since then, ridden on several trains both outside of and within the United States, and while nothing that I’d consider romantic has ever happened to me on one, I don’t discount the possibility that it might. Being both a writer and a nomad, my thoughts of trains tend to gravitate toward a previous era when the haves with lavish jewels and expensive champagne were onboard, in ordained and oblivious comfort, the well-lit and posh trains with sleeper cars and first class; while the have-nots were onboard without sound, without fanfare, under cover of darkness and without permission, the dirty half-empty freight, cattle cars, and cargo trains. I wish that I could say, as an old woman telling stories of her glory days to her grandchildren, that I had been both passengers, on both kinds of trains; that I’d been on both sides of the coin, the head and the tail, the heiress and the tramp, depending on the year, the circumstances, the companion.

These days I live in a town with regular train service daily, both passenger and freight, to points north and south, the Amtrak station sitting several blocks from my house on the southern edge of old downtown. When the whistle blows at night, I’ll sometimes hear Arlo Guthrie in the breezy aftermath, or picture the look on Gary Cooper’s face in “High Noon” as he anticipated the arrival of death. The high school which my son attends, the only one in town, is just across the tracks.

Last Saturday was the first football game of the season, and his first ever. He’s a wide receiver — though there is nothing remotely wide about his reedy, sinewy frame. I say this with a wry grin and the chosen ignorance of someone who knows as little about the game as it’s possible to know. I envisioned him snapping like a twig under the weight of a full-on tackle and forced my thoughts elsewhere as my beloved and I ambled over to the stadium on foot, confronted when we got to the tracks and our usual shortcut by a passing train, with old rusted near-empty cars that had ladders running from top to bottom of each. It slowed as we stood there, and for a few moments we watched it silently, each of us lost in our own thoughts. We looked up and down the tracks but it was a long train and we couldn’t see the end of it in either direction, and as it grinded to a halt, he turned to me. “Want to hop the train?” he said, grinning. I looked up and pictured myself scrambling up the ladder of the closest car, scooting across the top, lying low and out of sight to the other side, then shimmying down the opposite ladder. Or would we stay on top of the car, our bodies pressed hard and flat into the warm metal surface until the train passed out of this town and into another, then jump off before it came to a halt? “Yeah,” I said, smiling back at him. “I do,” wondering as I said it what I would do if it was the latter idea he had in mind. After all, he is a nomad, too. But it was neither. He jumped up on the iron bars between the two closest cars, treading carefully along the metal yoke toward the inside till he got to the halfway point, and turned to face me. He braced himself, then held out a hand in my direction. I took it, he pulled me up, and I followed him across to the other side. He jumped down and turned around, putting his broad hands around my waist. As he lifted me gently to the ground I closed my eyes and saw the coin again, saw myself in cashmere coat and black hat, black silk gloves to the elbow and cuban stockings with a seam down the back, cigarette holder in one hand, a  martini in the other; flipped it over and saw the furtive chase, the raggedy, tattered clothes and duffel bag, the hands-out climb aboard, the musty darkness, the squeaky breaks a wake-up call, the need for imminent, albeit stealthy departure.

As we walked away from the tracks and toward the football field, I glanced back at the train, now moving again, slowly but gaining momentum. My glory days are behind me, I thought to myself. And yet if circumstances were different, I might have truly and literally hopped that train.

Someday, I still might.

Will Wonders Never Cease….

Posted in Fiction, Novel, Publications with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2010 by 1writegirl

Amazingly enough, a small press by the name of Gypsy Shadow Publishing has opted to publish my novel, Fortunes Told. It is now available for purchase as an ebook on their website for the incredibly low price of $4.99. Hopefully it will become available in print before too long.

This book took me about three months to write (minus re-writes and editing) and three years to find someone willing to put it out there, a story I’m sure many of you are familiar with. For that matter, it is not my first novel, but my third (hmmm….what’s up with the number three?) Falling into the genre of Chick-Lit, Fortunes Told is a story about love, best friends, relatives, luck, humor, and choices. Mostly, though, it’s about second chances, something I’m happy to say I personally know a good deal about.

Click here for details if you’re looking for a fun and sexy read. For those of you who purchase a copy, my many and sincere thanks in advance.

Happy reading!

Haiku #29: No Where

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 17, 2009 by 1writegirl

It’s an illusion
Sink to the bottom with me
We’ll play in the mud

80 Degrees of Azure

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 10, 2009 by 1writegirl

She has
Everything
A woman could
Want

Money
Houses
Diamonds
Antiques in the
Foyer
A Rolls in the
Garage

Friends
Successful husband
Two healthy children

Vacations every season
On a private tropical isle

She fights for
Every cause
Donates to
Every charity
Attends
Every rally

She chairs the
PTA

And yet every morning
When he leaves
For the office

She lies in bed and
Stares at the ceiling
Wondering what
Went wrong

When she derailed

Why she didn’t
See it coming

How the chasm
Grows ever
More hollow
Ever deeper
By the day

Then she dresses
In her casual
Prada
Slips on her
Dolce Gabbana’s
Grabs her
Gucci handbag

Slips off
Her wedding ring

And goes to the bars
At the far end of town

Where it’s
Always Bombay Sapphire
And
Never the same
Man twice

Where no matter
How much she drinks
How long she
Looks in the glass

How long she
Lies in his arms

She never finds
What she’s looking for
One day she knows

She never will

That morning
She doesn’t stare
At the ceiling
She doesn’t
Wonder anymore
She merely
Steps into
The pool

80 degrees of azure

And doesn’t
Step out

Again

To Your Weston

Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2009 by 1writegirl

If someday nothing else matters
If you find you need a reason

To your Weston
I will be

Your Fi

Inseparable

Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 31, 2009 by 1writegirl

For Mikey and Smokey

They are
Inseparable

This woman and man

He touches her hair
As if it’s woven of
Black gold

She looks into his eyes
Like they hold
All the answers

His hand reaches out and grazes
Her arm
While walking or sitting
Or standing in line

And she falls asleep each night
On his chest
When he pulls her on top of him
Saying

Get closer

I know for a fact that
They argue at times
Each understands the other is
Imperfect

Yet he sees an angel
A goddess in her
And she sees a hero
A man worth devotion

In a godless world devoid of substance
Inclined toward
Frenetic accumulation
Of that which will

Tear you down

They have set aside
Notions

Of greener grass
Of biding time and
Playing fields

Choosing instead
To see that angel
To adore that hero

And embrace in its limelight
The strength from being

Inseparable

Terra Firma

Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 10, 2009 by 1writegirl

Another road calls my name in a
lover’s honeyed whisper
Come to me, don’t hesitate
You know you want it, baby…

So seductive, so sweet with promises
Promises never kept

In the past I’ve embarked
Time and again
Going everywhere and nowhere
At once

It seems I am one of those who
Failed to grow roots
Deficient in lineage corpus

But this time, I resist its pull
I put up a hand
And plant my feet

This time I will not run

I will not be fooled by sparkles embedded
By dashed lines and smooth hard black
By the rhythmic hypnotic hum
Toward endless, empty nowheres

This time I’ll stand still
I will take a deep breath
In slow, honest motion

In this place
I will hold my own,

My own terra firma.

Right-now Jobs

Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2009 by 1writegirl

A friend called me last night to ask me how I like my new job. I thought for a moment about the best way to describe it to her. Finally, I said “You know your worst nightmare about having kids?” She’s childless by choice. “Yeess,” she said slowly. “OK,” I said. “Now multiply that by a roomful of 10 or 12 toddler brains in the bodies of full grown adults, who aren’t ever going to get any older mentally.” I gave that a moment to sink in. “Now, consider that some of these people have so little going on that they just sit there and stare at you, never saying a coherent word. Some of them, on the other hand, will babble nonstop, only what they’re babbling isn’t coherent either. But they’re demanding your attention and you have to respond. Some of them have ideas about what they want to be doing, which isn’t what they are supposed to be doing, according to the powers that be, which you have to reflect. So you’ve got a battle of wills going on to prevent them from acting out on their impulses, which don’t seem to be affected by being told a gazillion times that the particular activity they wish to engage in is off limits, no longer available to them, or my favorite, inappropriate.” I could hear my friend take a deep breath and slowly exhale. “Then you’ve got the ones that want to hold your hand all the time, sit in your lap if you’ll let them, and get upset when they discover you have boundaries.” I paused, and sighed. “You know how I am,” I reminded her. “I can only take social activities of any kind in limited doses.” I’m the one at the cocktail party on the fringe of the circle, sipping my drink and listening to what everyone else is saying, slipping off in my mind every few minutes to someplace else I’d rather be. “At this job,” I told her, “I have to be socially engaged every single minute, I can’t even retreat into myself to escape. All my energy is directed outward toward the constant care of these people.”

As I was talking, I was thinking about women who get pregnant in their 40’s with Downs Syndrome babies and choose to give birth to them. I was wondering if they have any idea what they’re in for. These people I’m caring for are in my custody for 8 hours a day. How could I manage to care for even one of them 24 hours a day, for years on end? It isn’t about a lack of compassion or understanding, it’s about having the energy it takes to try and relate to someone who will never, no matter what you do or how much love and attention you give him, be able to care for himself in even the most basic of ways. It’s about being surrogate mother to a dozen little kids when it’s all I can do to be a mother to my own teenager.

“I’m just not cut out for this kind of work,” I said. If it was my own child, my parent, even my spouse who could no longer care for himself, I’d find the strength and the will because of the heart connection. But I’m not altruistic enough to want to earn a living this way.

“So what are you gonna do?” my friend asked.
“For now, I’ll go to work, do the best I can, and save every penny possible. It’s not a forever job. It’s a right now job.”
“Yeah,” she agreed. “I’ve had a few of those.”

We talked a few minutes more and hung up. All I could think about was crashing, I was so exhausted from my day. As I fell asleep I thought about what it must be like to see the world through a three year old’s eyes your whole life. It probably isn’t so bad for them. The ones it’s so hard on are the ones who love them most, their parents usually, who know they can’t always care for them, and who wish in vain their children could grow up to experience some sort of choice in life. Yet they never will. All their choices, large and small, all their lives, will be made for them. Many of them won’t even realize it could be any other way. For the rest of us, our successes and our failures – however affected by others, by luck, by circumstances – belong to us, if only because at some point, we were able to make a choice about something.

Bemoaning the ends

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2008 by 1writegirl

 

She undergoes in the name of love endless insult,

everything a means to an end,

comprised of acts against nature involving

 

hot wax

razors

foul smelling creams

food deprivation

scissors

tweezers

bar-bells

treadmills

abortions

a high priced psychoanalyst

eye liner

carrot juice

and the observation and feigned enjoyment of such pastimes

  as football, tv, and Nascar

… to name a few.

 

Please him, please him, please him,

she has been taught since infancy.

Never did anyone suggest please yourself.

She spends a good deal of her time

looking in the mirror and weeping.

In the end, it always ends.

 

She wanders from place to place,

repeating the cycle,

through the good years,

the years of her youth,

the years she can never get back.

Bemoaning the ends.

 

Till one day, something snaps, something changes,

and now she chooses which acts of nature

she will violate and why,

and there is no him to please anymore;

they have stopped lining up at her door

 or she has told them all to leave,

she doesn’t know which.

 

It is quieter now,

she is more focused,

and she doesn’t feel guilty nearly as much,

though she still spends a good deal of her time

looking in the mirror and weeping.

Bemoaning the ends.

 

It is not that she has given up on love.

It is that she has a different understanding

of what the word means than she used to.

 

Then one day she meets someone she thinks

maybe she could love someday,

the right way,

the way love was intended.

 

She admires this man,

she respects the way he faces his demons,

and in his presence,

she feels lighthearted and joyous

in a way she has not for years.

 

He says he wants to be her friend,

and he cries when he confesses

he cannot give her more.

 

She looks in the mirror and weeps.

Not from sadness; after all, she can give no more in return.

Not from happiness; where was he twenty years ago?

Not even from habit.

 

She weeps because his hesitations are her own,

his fears, as fresh and raw as hers,

His reasons as old and familiar as the skies.

 

She realizes he may find it easier

to walk away than to walk toward,

and she will end up, once more,

 

Bemoaning the ends.