creative non-fiction, Short Fiction

Interior Reality Star

It’s the Homemaker’s interior landscape, the house.  The Sahara of the carpeted public living spaces is dry and barren — no kids allowed.  But the kitchen is the pumping, quivering, juicy heart.  It alternates between hot and cold, furious work and rest as the sun rises and sets each day.  It’s her command center and the war room for bill triage and high-level negotiations of every stripe.   The bedrooms each hold their secrets, but the kitchen is the village square of her life.

If you’re fortunate enough to be invited to the inner sanctum after the school bus leaves but before the vacuum comes out and the coffee’s still hot, you’ll be invited to pick out a mug from the family cabinet, not the china cabinet.  Oh, don’t worry about judgement, that’s already been dispatched.  You know where the milk and sugar are, too, so help yourself.  Match your mood or make a statement, sit and bitch or just sit and sip.  You’re the lucky guest of the interior reality star.



Vacation With Friends

The slap of lime, a ting on the skin
The lap of the waves, warm with a breeze in the current
Laughter, sweat and the active laziness of summer camp for grown-ups.
Bellies swollen — food babies this time rolling under sunburned skin.  
A Grump at the omelette station — no way, Mon. 
“All Irie.”  Have another drink.  



Type O! I’m Positively Negative.

I gave blood today for the first time in over a year.  Seems having cancer (specifically not a blood cancer) does not disqualify you from donation once your treatment has been completed.  And nothing makes me feel better than dropping a pint of sweet O-.  Everybody at the drive makes you feel like such a hero for participating, and you get cookies and a sticker before you leave (which ranks blood donation ever so slightly higher than voting).   Another “personal best” for me was my donation time ~  a record 6 minutes!  I felt like an Olympic sprinter….who gets to lie down the entire time.   My phlebotomist made a big deal of thanking me for coming back to donate after my heath issue hiatus.  Believe me, the pleasure was all mine.

The other nice thing I noticed about today’s drive was the high percentage of “young” donors (i.e. people who look young enough to be one of my kids and defer to me as if I were one of their mothers’ dotty friends).    I like seeing familiar faces, too.  I try to donate at the same neighborhood site, because they have a drive the last Thursday of every month, but today it felt a little bit like being in a high school gym.  So if you were on the fence about opening up a vein to help your fellow-man, please  consider these interesting blood facts courtesy of the Mayo Clinic:

  • Only 5 percent of eligible donors across the nation donate blood, but the number of transfusions nationwide increases by 9 percent every year.
  • Whole blood donors can donate as frequently as every 56 days. A benefit from donating this often is that you receive a mini-physical once every two months. (You self-report your weight — no judgement,  they won’t weigh you, and you still get the cookies.)
  • Each whole blood donation can help as many as three people.
  • On average, a hip replacement typically uses one unit of blood, a cardiac bypass 2 units, a heart transplant 2 units, and a liver transplant 10 units!
  • Blood cannot be manufactured. It can only come as a gift from people.   (the bold/underline emphasis is all mine, Napsters)

My Vacation With The Seven Deadly Sins and Friends

I’m folding up the bathing suits with a heavy sigh after recently returning from the vacation of a lifetime.  The type of vacation that is truly a suspension of reality, or, if you will, an alternate reality, as there are people do live and work (very hard) on the island of Jamaica.   To paraphrase the late, great Warren Zevon,  I vacationed with the Seven Deadly Sins and kept a busy schedule trying to fit them in.  But I had help.  In addition to Jamaican G-Mon and myself, we were joined by two other most-fabulous couples, our own notorious s.t.u and Mi’Lady W.  and the Sastafarian and his Mi’Lady G.

So here is the sinful rundown of our itinerary:

Gluttony:  As this was an all-inclusive resort there was food and drink at little more than arm’s length at any waking moment.  And all of it was delicious.  I ate a tart/sweet passion fruit for the first time in addition to chocolate croissants everyday for breakfast.  BTW — when I turn 90 I am going to alternate my remaining days eating chocolate croissants and buttery almond bear claws for breakfast (instead of the high-fiber cereals and yogurt I eat now.)  The bar(s) opened at 10 AM, so you could, in fact, start each day with SOTB (Sex on the Beach) or sample the “drink of the day.”  There is also a delightful grapefruit soda called “Ting,” and it is both delicious and refreshing!  Funny, it doesn’t feel like excessive drinking when you spread your consumption over the daylight hours.   I liken it to entering a latent stage of infancy where you get up from the table to go lie down on a chaise by the pool or float, whale-like, in the Caribbean.  Which is an excellent segue to….

Sloth: Yes, there was a gym on the property with organized yoga and exercise classes.  Props to the notorious s.t.u. who did work out every morning.  (You alone are redeemed from this sin.)  But there was something so sublimely languid about this paradise that you had to surrender to the sun (and alcohol) and just adopt the mantra, “It’s all irie, mon.”  Although the folks working at this resort employ this phase it is quite clear that THEY work very hard so you, dear guest, don’t have to.   In my defense, I did rise from my lounge to walk the 15 feet to the bar for my drinks each day.  There is another option:  the staff gives you a little flag to raise on your poolside table to summon someone to bring you a drink.  I refused all flags, just sayin’…. oh, another good segue to….

Pride:  OK, this was a tropical place where we spent most of our daylight hours wearing bathing suits to bob in either the pool or the sea.  The Lady W. shamed me into looking for the G-mon on the beach as he spent hours floating.  We were sure he was on the way to Havana at one point.  Which is strange behavior for a man who has been very vocal about his feelings for “the Shore.”   Most of the resort guests were from northern climes and I’d say without shame that overall, the population was 40+.  So you can imagine what all that newly arrived pale flesh looked like.  But I can also say that after you reach a certain age, who really cares what you look like in a bathing suit anymore?  Many of us have used our bodies to bring other people into this world or we bear the traces of surgery or accidents that make us appreciate our corporeal bodies all the more.   There were also folks on this property without self-esteem issues (or clothing) as they enjoyed bathing  over on the “au naturale” beach discreetly tucked away at the edge of the property –adjacent to the Wedding Pavilion, oddly enough.  We saw 2 weddings during our stay.  The G-mon was, as usual, floating in the sea during one and was kindly asked to please float further to one side so he wouldn’t be in the bridal photos.  No problem, mon. 

Lust:  This was a resort for (mostly middle-aged) couples only which meant there wasn’t any meat-market-type leering even over on the nude beach.  But as my “Sleep With No Boys” Polish granny used to say, “What, you think you invented it?” Lust isn’t confined to youth.  ‘Nuff said…. free-flowing alcohol helps, too.

Envy:  Oh, on the day of departure how I envied all those new arrivals.  They had no idea what pleasures were in store for their vacations.  I also envied those folks who told us this was their 10th or even 20th visit here!  Why were they keeping it a secret!!!

Greed:  The wildlife here maintain a careful, laid-back demeanor until you are at your most vulnerable, (i.e. asleep on your lounge chair) and then they strike!  We watched birds swam bussed trays and swoop through the open dining room at breakfast and lunch.  But, unlike the pigeons, crows and other scavengers of the north, these ninja birds make no sound.  I slept through a barrage of birds eating an abandoned plate of nacho chips a mere 3 feet away from me.

Wrath: It was the wrath of Mother Nature we felt when we stepped out of the airport terminal into a biting snow.  What a slap of reality to hear beeping horns and have to unfold our own napkins onto our laps.  And no more animals made out of towels on my bed…..

Good bye, Jamaica and friends.  We shall be together again.

Jamaica:  I'm Crazy For You!
Jamaican Sunset: Pic courtesy of the Sastafarian