Saturday, December 31, 2011

Resolutions, Revelations. Rallies

      Been hearing all manner of change - that will debut tomorrow.  Hardly a joiner, I most definitely am a mull er.  My musings took me from "Remembering" yesterday to 'and now?' today.  We have scanned, eye to mind, mind touching mind, with all the reverent anticipation of "Looking for Mr. Goodbar", through the frenzied yet purposeful jungle that we call mankind.  If one subscribes to the concept - and I daresay I do - of the 'Whole' of Mankind, then one accepts the thesis (count me in) that mankind is indivisible and the 'mysteries' not yet solved speak not to Nature's disorder but to man's intellectual immaturity.
      Please forgive me the bromides indispensable to pragmatically applying this thesis to my advocacy of the rights to which, I believe, mankind is entitled.  First, you gotta believe that injury to any part of mankind, injures - in part - all of mankind.
      (John Donne drove this home with: "No man is an island.  Each man's death diminishes me for I am involved in mankind.  So, ask not for whom the bell tolls.  It tolls for thee." The boy indeed had a knack.)
      Next, survival in today's world is made tolerable by the enjoyment of living.  This enjoyment is markedly decreased by emotional and psychic disabilities.  Dear Dorothy Parker had a bead on this one in "Coda".
      (There's little in taking or giving,
There's little in water or wine;
This living, this living, this living
Was never a project of mine.
Oh hard is the struggle, and sparse is
The gain of the one at the top.
For art is a form of catharsis,
And love is a permanent flop.
And work is the province of cattle,
And rest's for a clam in a shell,
So I'm thinking of throwing the battle-
Would you kindly direct me to hell?")
      Now these imbalances - and their Siamese twin, physical limitation - rob mankind's life of its pleasures.  The Bard provides but one example.
("Ah, sleep, that knits up the raveled sleeve of care.")
      And at the very heart of mankind's dilemma, bypassing the pulmonary artery - and, therefore, lungs - and hopping right over to the left ventricle (you don't tug on left ventricle's cape, if you get my drift) which launches gallons of weakness through mankind's system per diem, is the loss of what I call the 'sharing experience'.  This because the ability to create and SHARE the creation in communal productivity is a source of great pride.  Losing it leaves a large blank page in our book, "The Pleasure of Living".  You're on your own.  Living isn't pleasing.  It's a crap shoot. 
      (As Groucho Marx opined when his "You Bet Your Life" TV program was challenged on a different network with the very engaging/amusing Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, "Well folks, I guess now you can bet your life or better your life." Re:Marx, nobody could top him when it came to speedy, snappy repartee.)
      It is therefore up to us, dear readers, to ensure mankind's entitlements, overcome this inchoate mentality, facilitate and preserve mankind's pleasure in living.  I know you've all been a-tasking to the nth 'multi' of late, so I have set about fixing the problem.  Mankind's life, I am resolved, shall NOT be robbed of its pleasure!  Debuting on the morrow, I will do the man proud.
      (I refer, of course, to Clint Eastwood/Ronald Reagan's "Go ahead. Make my day.")
      Tutorially speaking, I refer you first to the parentheticals above.  Cherished pearls of wisdom - cast NOT before swine but enshrined, etched, inscribed (any guesses where I'm going with this?) ON PAPYRUS, PARCHMENT, PAPER, then having been marked with 'P', tossed in the oven for you and me.  Obviously, in this scenario, 'oven' is used metaphorically for book/library/collections and the like.  Yes, I READ them.  They were gifts from my friends.  Gifts I could take to bed, a grassy knoll, a sofa by the window, watching the snow fall -quietly, so as not to disturb my READING.
      I'd seen them neatly arranged in book cases with doors made of crafted leaded glass; on shelves over mantels, Moroccan-leather-bound, gilded-edged pages announcing "The Royals are 'IN'"; on the desks of my children in their rooms; the bedside tables of octogenarian nuns; in stores, on subways at launches, the proud author beaming as the lines formed, waiting a turn to have the newly-purchased treasure touched by, actually written in, by its creator.  That, dear reader is the penultimate 'sharing experience', the ultimate delayed so as to be a very private affair to remember - perhaps a soupcon of crackling wood in the fireplace, a fragrant magnolia floating in a Waterford bowl on a nearby Deco ottoman, hints of Beethoven surround-sounding softly, almost a whisper of puppy's breathing, curling up from your feet. 
      And, like the cradle, the curtain will fall.  Bidden or not bidden, the parting will be sweet sorrow.  Sweet because 1) you now become tachycardic, perhaps do some anticipatory panting even, at the very thought of   a brand new 'sharing experience', IE, telling all comers about 'this book I just read," and 2) you know that I'll be sooo happy for you and the chosen-to-be-sharees, that I'll not use ONE MORE HACKNEYED cliche in this post!
      (To be sure, I really did see/admire one such book case when I first visited my husband's home.  Their living room was forty feet long (the baby grand looked like a preemie) and at one end the wall WAS the book case.  He morphed it into an apprentice-piece by lounging over the top shelf - home to every sports trophy he'd ever earned - until the hapless visitor HAD to say, "Gee, Phil, what're all those shiny statues in the book case?"
      And around our home, each dedicated community of books had different bookends.  some were bona fide antiquities; some were from my family or bought by me.  But they have SUCH personality.  Huge solid brass elephants (trunks UP, good luck, you know) support my cookbook collection (remember cooking, Lorane?); carved wood Civil War cannons embrace Phil's sister's collection.  Her ashes were scattered and you'll be as well if you mess with her books; bulbous, contradictory, IRON wing-back chairs support the law books in my study (Contradictory in that you will never find a comfortable chair in a courtroom - save the 'bench' on which his honor perches); Stone, squares, sporting embedded brass ducks support my husband's medical tomes; our son's desk sported leather, 3-D slices of the globe (which always said 'basketballs' to me); one of our daughters used flat, brass squares imprinted with Rodin's "The Thinker" (I suspect, is was the male anatomical precision, not the artistic value that attracted her) and our other little lady had clowns - silent commentary on how she viewed the entire educational 'drill'.
      Whatever shall I do with them?  What will they embrace, adorn?  Whence functionality when 'The Trend' finally becomes 'The Only' means of accruing knowledge, favorite quotes, maps, recipes, fables, bed-time stories? When dawns the day during which what was once known as 'reading material' is generated by robotic, computerized chips or multi-channel analytic towers, information to be characterized, disseminated and osmotically absorbed by the 'end user', AKA humans. 
      The very embodiment (rather, mechanization) of efficiency, its applications have no limits; its productivity matchless as well as eviscerated.  As will be the humans forced to rely upon them.  Is THAT the world we want?  You-show-me-your-new-template-I'll-show-you-mine relationships?  Nay, say I.  Fie on curling up with metallic, meditationally-transmitted data. Dam Data. Any day.  I love dairy products but never wished my parents had been Guernseys.  I thrive on the written word, thought, emotion but would not have traded my folks for a pair of matching, fluorescent transducers.)
      Soooo.  Here's the plan.  Remember those queues, populated with humans, happily, willingly awaiting their turn for hours JUST to 'meet the press', as it were.  Touch the hem.  Perfume the washed feet of the creator.  No holds barred when it comes to that 'shared experience'.  That fulcrum upon which mankind balances its pleasure of living with its wholeness
      Well, we're going to bring those lines back.  Introduce the reader to his writer.  Save the jobs of ALL of the workers who perform ALL of the tasks involved in producing ALL of the books produced by ALL of those publishers.  Once again, the writer will stop by, say "Hi" and leave a smidgen of who-what-where-when-why, then SIGN the book, using the same nimble fingers that caressed the keyboard whilst forming the words that, when strung together, formed sentences that built paragraphs which marched step-lock-style across the paper pages, telling a story, drawing a picture, birthing another "shared experience'. 
      I've 'named the baby'.  Stop by the nursery.  The nurse will wheel it over.  Just ask for "Calling Card".  Cute as it can be. And starting tomorrow, I shall embark on a journey of "Deliverance".  I'll still be based on this page, of course.  But here's hopin' NEXT year, if you buy a book for you or as a gift (same thing, really), when you open the cover you'll see an affixed note to you, from the writer.  And if you do, tell your friends about it.  And please tell me.  Like I said, I'll be here; and like Mae West said,
      ("Come up and see me sometime.")
                                   Later, Lorane. . . .

Thursday, December 29, 2011


      So this kid walks down the stairs.  It's around 3 in the morning.  She was thirsty. Around step number 8, her orange, fuzzy amoebic-shaped slippers freeze.  Rubbing imaginary 'sleep' out of the corners of her eyes, (In later years, well after reality had established residency in her head, she would refer to the location of this discharge as the inner canthus but this is now, it's my story and reality hasn't even knocked.  Hunger, thirst, fantasy - knocked AND moved in.  Reality who?) she allows them to morph into protruding globes as she stares.
      Whaddya know.  It's Mommy. And SANTA. She's no expert, but that sure looks like a very long kiss all wrapped up in a red velvet hug.  She snickers - a hushed snicker.  A self-satisfied snicker.  Santa's "beard and stache", gleamy white, combed and ELASTIC-BANDED to his brown-haired head, is doing a stashe stand, straight and stiff, on his now flattened red velvet hat, actually up-staging the famous white, fuzzy pom-pom. This is good stuff.  Enormous potential. "So, uh, Mom. The kids are goin' skatin' at Wollman's in Central Park Friday ni. ." "Absolutely NOT!" ""Was this year the FIRST uh, ya know, for you and 'Santa?" "You have a mean streak, child. Your father's side. . . You'll have to promise to stay with the group and come RIGHT home after a hamburger and shake at Prexy's." (Prexy's - The Hamburger with a College Education." The logo's a picture of a burger on feet wearing a mortar board with its tassel dangling into the oozing red ketchup on the side. Mom's fave for after ice skate appetites)
      (Wrapping presents this year, I was bathing in the oldies.  The songs we knew when I was coming up. (Up where? Why do people say that? We were singing these songs in a six story walk-UP - although we only had to climb to four.) "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" always made me laugh. Back then, I mean. Because Mom favored Mussolini  when it came to management style.  And Dad had this little thing for "Four Roses" - or ANY rye, for that matter. Bottles hidden everywhere. Mom rarely drank.
      So I knew it would be a 'Bachus Debauch' for Dad if I ever caught Mom in THAT kind of hanky-panky. I'd picture her yanking a half-drained "Four Roses" soldier out of the umbrella stand by the front door. There I'd be, miming "The Kiss" -back to her, the way we used to do. Lots of hand work. Outcome? "At ease, Soldier."  Then business as usual. Mom cooking, cleaning, going to work during the day. Me, going to school (on the shoe leather express) homework and, after we got a TV, watching "Ozzie and Harriet", wondering what it was like to have stairs leading to bedrooms on a second level IN YOUR OWN HOUSE, and, - always - playing out a lively imaginary life in my head.)
      Somehow -  and we'll skirt the details (wouldn't want to run into the Devil. They say that's where he is. In the details.) - she made it from under the stable roof to Camelot.  Deedee-doo, at the tender age of eighteen, she was being driven - reluctantly, tearfully, with trunks filled with trepidation - to Washington, D.C. and 'Destination Georgetown University'. It was 1962, the campus was teeming with co-eds draped in Pendleton, penny loafers, Ladybug blouses, cashmere cardigan belting or 'shawling', soon-to-be-stored madras and espadrilles from Charlettesville (the ONLY thing a Hoya would deem worthy from THAT city) and the ubiquitous sparkling white 'Chiclet'-teeth smile, strolling the Mile Path (best walkway on which to be seen) to the bookstore, Coach-leather breezes softly swaying their silky, blunt-cut bobs. 
      During that four years, she forced herself out of her own head and heart so as to meld with her beautiful Colleagues-in-Camelot-Community. By her senior year, she'd streaked her hair - where Jackie used to have hers done on Wisconsin Avenue, lost thirty-five pounds by keeping up academically, socially, theatrically (devoted member of the university drama club, The Masque and Bauble), clinically - the school of nursing demanded more clinical hours than any collegiate program in the U.S. - as well as babysitting for VERY well-paying clients who entertained the notion, to appease their guilt over having NO intention of raising their own children, that GU nursing students were the creme-De-la-creme re: safety, prestige and capability. Kids seemed to like them, too.
      She had spent breaks at a variety of manses  - Chevy Chase , CT, Potomac Park,  Manhattan, McLean - where she learned basic equestrian maneuvers, 'proper' serving/entertaining rudiments, THE ONLY labels one wore, sports one watched vs played, men one dated and where one requested they go. Summers were all Manhattan. A group of eight secured jobs at New York Hospital where dorm-living was provided, salaries outrageously high, off-time spent owning the city. She'd 'done' The Russian Tea Room, Bogie's, parties on Sutton Place, Bergdorf's, Bendel, and the Plaza for lunch and drinks many times over.  The Village, already a second home, was very 'coming' in the sixties, as was fountain bathing Au naturale.  It was all passion, urgency, causes and all carried off with bona fide ELEGANCE.
      (Perhaps the wrapping paper had sparked that parade of royal glitterati - and the Magi didn't even wrap. they just followed their star. As did I. And I noticed the music had changed. I was listening to The Commitments, "Destination Anywhere" in particular, Niamh Kavanagh, lead vocalist. (Recently, I befriended a lovely, talented Irish author named Niamh.  I'd never heard the name before - or so
      Never saw the 'charm'/'quaintness' in the mafia, the gangs, tattoos, black leather-ware, the pointed shoes ("Puerto Rican Fence Climbers"), garish make-up, teased hair, motorcycles, playful rituals (It seemed we hung and burned Casey Stengel in effigy every year to every one's delight) - the 'Brooklyn Schtick'.  And I married a Hoya whose dream - if he didn't make the cut as the shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates, was to be a part of the Mafia. (Unfortunately, that was behind door 3 in my family) He still delights in my telling the story of getting a ride home from school with my Mom's older brother, Paul, who adored me.  He drove a black Cadillac and I was fascinated with the shiny, wood and chrome dash.  OOPS! The glove compartment opened, a small, heavy, black revolver rocketed right into my lap. I froze. (Never saw a real gun before or since) Uncle Paul waited for a red light., gently leaned over and replaced the gun in its cache and said, "Why don't ya do some readin' or somethin'." I did.
      Back to my wrapping, I noticed I'd bought wonderful book gifts this year. Coming out of my bleak reverie, I realized I was wrapping a baby's-first-alphabet book in which the letters are characters.  Opening it in a desultory fashion, I read (sans context), "Y says, 'Why isn't E even crying?' And O answers, 'Sometimes, she's a silent E.'" I thought, "How sweet." Then I thought - that ole 'looseness of association' - of how when my Dad was helping me with my reading and we came across an 'e' that was not to be expressed, he'd say, after I'd muffed it, "No, Elgee, the 'e' is silent, like the pee in toilet" and have a good laugh at his pun. Where's Uncle Paul's gun when I need it? Huh? I ask you. You pick - pun or gun? See what I mean? Quaint is as quaint does. Pee-in-toilet ain't.)
      Memory Lane strolls CAN be therapeutic.  You evaluate how you've approached this 'human experience'. Have I just let it happen or did I run to embrace it.  Did I ride it in subway-stance - eyes straight ahead or reading; if standing, hold strap, feign reading placard ads; no co-passenger exchanges beyond, "scuse", "yeah" or, if your trench coat is suddenly wet at groin level, hatpin-thrust forward at same level - even if priest or nun-in-drag. Or did I reach out, listen, hold in silence, befriend on the journey like some opulent millionaire, squandering precious coins of personality. I can only hope I made a good run at being laughter's gentle soul, not sulks' hit man. 
      I'll keep following my star - relentless, unafraid, taking the "road less traveled", not because I'm dauntless.  Rather because I know I'm NOT working without a net. This because, as the carving over C.G. Jung's entrance says (in Latin - showoff), "Bidden or not bidden, God is present."  We'll do this again next year. We'll keep track together: Rx: 'remembering' per anum.  Later, Lorane. . . .

Sunday, December 11, 2011


      Well, I guess the ole fuse has been on overload of late.  And speaking of 'late', that's exactly how I've been running.  "Today, Self, YOU WILL WRITE". Right. Today.  BRAIN: Just checked calender and - oops!, it's tomorrow! Self didn't write. Again. Wrong.
      Of course whatever can go wrong, does. Especially when you are rushed, addled, cannot tolerate dog hair, crumbs, etc on white tile kitchen floor thereby wasting chunks of productive time eliminating same. Then there's appointments kept for simple tests only to find out data missing/not sent to doc who needed them; Selecting presents to help Santa & finding out chubs doesn't reimburse for this favor; staying in touch with really important people. And since that is never a 'wrong', no apologies.
Color me Coping
      But I sorely MISS writing.  Miss you, dear readers.  Think of the pluses.  When I write, I heal, I deal (as in cope), I extract myself from the ho-hum rut of overstimulating reality.  And when you read, YOU can take a break from the daily (nano-second-ly) grind - which has nothing to do with a good cup of Jo OR pole dancing - which has nothing to do with elves. You can enter MY world for a bit - and unless you've got the IQ of a box of frozen snow peas, you can exit STAT. There are always choices. To get up; to put paper weight on snooze button; to read; to swear off of this blog.
      If, however, you are a Karma 'type', I think things are re-sol-ving. I really do.  SOME thing happened this week - obviously I was too busy/frazzled to notice - that has things rolling along with far more 'grace under pressure' (and please don't call me Grace); in  more of an "old sport", "light-on-Daisy's-dock" ambiance which means - DRUM ROLL - I AM going to write again. Soon.  Mayhaps tomorrow - after Molly's dance recital. (Grand peep Molly of "Good-Golly-Miss-Molly"-fame.  I'm just sayin', "Let's talk, SOON.

Sooner. L. . . .

Sunday, November 27, 2011


      You know there's an ad on TV these days featuring a character called "Mayhem" which I used to find amusing.  Not so much - since he's moved into our house.  Ever feel like you're wildly spinning your wheels but getting nowhere?  I set specific days on which I'm to accomplish specific chores - NO diversions. Discipline. Just one-foot-after-the-other kind of lock-step organization. Then guess I didn't do enough 'focus work' or maybe just didn't plan ahead.  Because I'm barely approaching specific chore #1 and it's time to start dinner.  Feel like I'm losing my grip.  Too many distractions; too weak; subconsciously piqued because TR is relaxing with a book before dinner-walk-dog-sip-wine-put-talking-heads-sports-on-TV time.
      (And I refuse to be petty - who has time? - but as the restful eventide progresses for TR, the sound, no, cacophonic 60-cycle interference, increases.  TV volume: UP. Open-mouthed chip-crunching: louder. Not intentionally, of course.  But when that "Burrito Bandito" gets a'chompin', you need those visual quotes from the 'silents' or maybe a signing translator because you certainly can't HEAR the thing over the reclining rock-fall going on at the head of the bed. So big deal, you say.  Grab a book, do a crossword, whatever. Rest up before morning grabs you and catapults you into specific chore day # 2.  Better yet. Make a LIST. And I did.)
      I LOVE lists.  Actually, it's checking off a completed item that is pure nirvana.  It's gratifying and, just for emphasis - in case anyone NOT checking is taking a gaze break - I make it garishly dramatic. Use a squeaky fluorescent sharpie, pin an Italian flag - on cork board days - on the accomplished ONE, tap out a drum roll on the tile breakfast room floor.  And I've got two birds with one flourish.  I had success AND disturbed TR's ennui.  The ole one-two; or in his argot, the double play.  Yup.  I know some stuff, too.  In the athletic arena, if you will.  Even if you will not, that was the famous

Tinker to Evers to Chance
                                double play executed in 1910 when these three Chicago Cubs forced a New York Giant to hit into a double play. Symbolic today, like "smooth radio" or "fit as a fiddle" meaning a performance par excellance.  For me, it's just the ole 'chore-checkin'-chill'.  Now I don't have to tell you, dear reader, what you can get done when you know there's a giant, fat carrot waitin' for Mr. Ed when you've DONE it - if you get my drift.
      As productive as list-making, multi-tasking is yet another chore knocking-off enhancer.  And, unlike 'back in the day', we're given all manner of e-assists, like our smart phones and computers.  No more quills or carrier pigeons.  Just today I was working from my list AND multi-tasking simultaneously. Amazing!  
      (Well, there was one itsy snag.  I had finished packing two huge bags of clothes, shoes, etc. for the Veterans of the Vietnam War - a chore begun a month ago but I plugged - and reminded TR that tomorrow - 11/28 - was pick-up day. I was proud to see the effort he put into lugging these very heavy bags down the driveway and placing them on the road next to our mailbox. The boy's nothing if not patriotic.  Then he went off to watch beloved football with his sons, leaving the house blissfully unoccupied AND  quiet. 
      List check: fax doctor re: incomplete bone density report sent to ortho doc.  I scribbled a mini-list of info he'd need - dates especially - and got to the keyboard.  Calender at my side, I flipped back to October.  Appt. w/ him 10/27; bone density 11/08; appt. w/ ortho 11/10.  EYES TO BRAIN: Tomorrow is the 31st! Veterans' pick-up must have been Friday!  Have to call them. Number on the bags. I'll just walk out there and get the number. Another multi-task! Exercise plus airing out Mom's old winter car coat. It IS almost December.
      Back at my post, I called, leaving long, desperate-sounding message about getting pick-up day wrong-but-clothes-out-on-street-getting-cold-donees-need-them-p/s-call-for-special-pick-up. Back to doc's fax.  Typing the timeline, I double-checked the dates.  What ho! OCTOBER 31 was a MONDAY. Tomorrow is 11/28, the scheduled day.  Stop typing.  Dial, leaving a follow up 'silly-me' message instructing the sainted listener to just forget about my previous call.  Everything's jake. No joke, and I hung up SO thankful that TR wasn't going to hear "Would you mind bringing those bags back in?" Finishing the fax and making a copy for the ortho, I wondered what  listener thought of caller.)
      Somehow, putting all of this drivel on paper is therapeutic. There is no QUESTION but that daily life presents far more complicated 'to dos' than in the days of yore. And mine, too.  AND, I just heard from my dear friend KD yesterday - our B-day mother of seven, grandmother of seventeen?  She was a smidge melancholy because although Thanksgiving was wonderful, spent with her eldest and her offspring only, she missed 'the house' as she hung seventeen little stockings in their condo. No 'day at the beach'.  But she did add a chuckle-tag.  She and Will had gone up to Vermont, I think, to see one of their daughters receive the "Teacher of the Year" award.  At THE moment of presentation, Will jauntily whipped out his new i-phone for a 'Cell Phone Moment'.  Aim, click, shoot - a great image of Will's nose.  Where does it say "Turn the thing around, stupid!"?  I ask you.
      My Grandpa used to sing, "Ya gotta give a little, take a little", and my Dad's favorite saw was, "Ya live, ya learn, and ya die stupid."  So, I conclude that, as to priorities, I guess, "Everything old is new again." Think: "Plink!".
Later, Lorane. . . .

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thanksgiving; Thanks Taking

      The pace.  It's the pace at which we must do this 'thing' of living that obviates the very need/desire to live well.  It follows, then, that, if 'living well' is a noble and good goal, we must remove any obstacles to its achievement.  We are, it would seem, due - actually ethically bound - to effect a change of pace.
      During this time of year, while we focus on being thankful for our blessings, our good fortunes, we must also focus on our 'wish lists' and disappointments.  Just as we acknowledge our capabilities, we must accept our limitations.  Only then, can we begin our journey toward 'wholeness' or, for a woman, completeness.  As a woman, wife, mother, citizen, I pray and hope for wholeness, contentment, for those whom I love.  This day, my reflections are wrapped around a very special loved one.  My daughter Robyn, wife of my son and mother of their children, is not at peace.  Indeed, she is in emotional and spiritual pain.  I dedicate this entry to her and the initiation of her journey back to good feelings - contentment, shared pleasures, the knowledge that she NEVER walks alone por in darkness.  Come.  Come with me to Robyn.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


     Not too long ago - what's two weeks? - we celebrated an "un-happy" Halloween.  Of course, we did not do it on October 31.  Rather, due to scheduling constraints, my Halloween missive was posted on October 29.  Ergo, "un", found its way, as I'm certain you have surmised, into the title.  I think the time has come, dear reader, given the honesty and candor that are the hallmarks of our relationship - such as it is - to reveal the literary Hoochie Coochie lurking in the wings whilst Halloween played itself out center stage.
        (In fact - and hindsight, the clarity of which is legend - I NOW realize that the collage of images that left us with that 'happy-ever-after' glow, emanated from the warm, crackling, dancing flames of ALL the 'happies' in our lifetime of Halloween 'play-acting'.  But that's another story - which we'll not hear today.  No.  I'll just refrain, be disciplined; ZIP IT.)
      You see a delightful, creative gal in a writers' group to which I belong - we'll call her Janet, because that's her name - suggested we 'play' a writing Trick or Treat game.  She had us warming up at the barre for weeks until the choreographic rules were set.  PLACES!  We would each enter a challenge/assignment; execute it on 10/31; include concise, instructions and - ENCORE! - offer a "Treat" to the best contenders.  Enthusiasm ran high as did the entrants.  That is, there were an impressive NUMBER of players - in case you were picturing besotted writers jogging aimlessly and amok.
      I fretted over my 'treat' as the competition was stiff - autographed books, free professionally-illustrated book covers, thousands of edited pages of an inchoate manuscript - you know, grown-up stuff.  I finally decided to offer 5" by 7" collages of my favorite Halloween photos over the past 50 or so yrs.  The lucky recipients needed only to visit my blog, leaving a comment on Halloween and be one of the ten pluckiest/most riveting of said comments.
      (Through no fault of mine, I feel a zipper sliding open.  Blame it on faulty technology, overbearing Catholic guilt that haunts the liar, that ole Jungian feminine quest for completion, the weather - whatever.  But here's what happened.  Having assembled 33 photos - circa 1950 through 2011 - I 'plugged' them into my handy collage-maker and received the condemning news that only 26 made the cut - as they say.
      Panic consumed me.  Which 26? Were 'key', prized entries rejected? Was this daemonic "app" just out to get me?  Steeling myself, I squinted - a 'meanie' squint - as the chosen were paraded, in a perfect geometrical, circular reel-of-misfortune, on the monitor.  Selecting a 50% overlap with authority, I clicked "create".  Naturally, the 7 rejects were stellar components of the finished piece.  BUT.  "Foiled!", I shouted as my squinted visual acuity, now enhanced, perceived the absence of star-quality images I'd - in my excited haste - neglected to scan.  Ha.  Guilty Christians 1; App Lions 0.)
      Given the size of the field, visiting all entrants' blogs and accommodating the 'trick' was time-consuming.  Then printing, laminating and packaging my ten recipients brought me to 11/15.  That's what "two weeks" is.  I've been contacting them to extract snail mail addresses lo, these past 12 hours.  To be sure, the grown-up winners, by now, have read their prize books, approved their illustrations and changed their edited manuscripts.  Beware the 'seemingly simple'.
      (So be it.  I simply cannot/will not desecrate my treat by NOT including the entire pictorial story. Unfortunately, I was only able to find a segment of the image, but I give you Bill.  A new next-door neighbor in the 80's, Bill came over to inquire of my husband as to whether the parents wore costumes when escorting their kids Halloween night. Mom always used to say, "The Devil's always busy."  Now my impish, Irish husband always wore hand- painted boxer shorts, a t-shirt; bow tie, a Groucho Marx nose/mustache mask; a trench coat on this special night. He went, if you asked, as a "flasher".  So, to Bill's query, he said, "Why, of course."  Dear Bill, a brilliant lawyer & very kind friend/dad, spent en entire week meticulously building a perfect, multi-colored Rubik Cube which revealed only his head and legs - knees to shoes.  And such a good sport.  Had us over for ice cream sundaes that night.
The flasher, seen left, didn't ALWAYS present with such panache.  There were times when his son was the ONLY guy who would be seen with him - for obvious reasons.  His biker outfit was intended to be a costume.  The above has no justification.  Ironically,  only our (his) dog was left out.Bridie, as you can see, was NOT as willing a participant in looking-the-fool as some other folk. And our own children were often in agreement with her.

At age four, our oldest, Philip, announced he would not speak at the school Halloween party.  Therefore, he was clad in an absurd multi-color fro; clown suit and carried a horn.  "You needn't say a word," I admonished, escorting him to the bus, "Just honk." 
 Our youngest refused to speak at age 3, so she wore green tights and a leotard. Festooned with purple balloons, she went out as a bunch of grapes.  The following year, Mommy had the flu, the flasher was carving pumpkins and once again, Jennie decided she was not going to speak.  The tree to your right was the result.  Their children did not suffer the same afflictions.  Emma, Jen's daughter, was delighted to trot her royal stuff and although "Harpo's" daughter, Molly, was not a merry bumble bee, she loved her role as a toddler jockey and bounced right along to her conquering pirate this year.)


I believe the recipients in our writing performance will not only agree, but, hopefully, conjure up some happy nostalgia of their own.  Perhaps, you will as well.  Later, Lorane. . . .

Monday, October 31, 2011


      You may recall - or not - that on October 29, I asked that you engage in a little 'make believe'.  We all donned our tin-foil-hats, thereby deflecting any alien rays which, if not deflected, might leave us vulnerable to mental aberrations such as mind control and all of its pathologic dangers to our person/thoughts.  So armed, we then read a hauntingly-crafted Halloween tale.  We did this on 10/29 because 10/31 was taken.  What follows is the jammed dance card that caused this untimely switcheroo.
      On Monday, 10/24, I had a doctor's appointment in Norfolk.  At the Medical Center downtown.  Said 'Center', I'd been alerted by 2 post cards, was temporarily across the street as the facility was getting a face lift.  BACKGROUND: I had already tended to the blood work necessary for Dr. #1 (post card #1) and would be doing the same for Dr. #2 (post card #2) for the following Monday.  END OF BACKGROUND.
      As driving to downtown Norfolk's medical center & paying their parking fees rates right up there with driving to Pittsburgh in the snow for 12 hours with a hungry, crying eleven month old child, a friend suggested I use our new Light Rail system - The Tide - leaving my car at the Newtown Rd. station in Virginia Beach and riding in quiet, $0.75 senior bliss on a beam-me-up-Scotty type glistening transport vessel which would speedily/scenically whisk me to the 'center' in 15 minutes whence I would stroll languidly to the pedestrian crossover - gazing down at the pitiably glazed/irked drivers - white knuckles to the wheel - processing inch by inch, sweat beads abounding to sundry, vacuous destinations - then descend, nary a lock a-muss, to amble 0.3 miles - as the pedestrian paces - to my appointment.  (Did I mention the FREE parking @ the Newtown Rd. station?)
      In an imperfect world there'd be at least one glitch.  Mine was that the 'newness' of the travel mode had me 'tiding' a tad late so with Andy at the ready, I called doctor 1's office to report potential tardiness.  And, ooops, lovely lady assured me there was no problem as my appointment was for the FOLLOWING Monday.  Indeed  But not to worry.  The blood work would still be OK.  The NOT OK department was the appointment I was missing with Dr. #2 whilst gliding toward her 'center' in shameful comfort.
      I frantically called to report my mix-up and the receptionist, serving up some icy shoulder with her 'advice', suggested I come in anyway.  I could AT LEAST get their blood work done and meet my new doctor (who had agreed to see me)  Which I did.  Blood pressure up. (REALLY?)  Blood draw by trainee smooth until I returned to examining room and noticed a trail of (still flowing) purple blood the rivulet of which had already Tye-dyed my cords, socks and Bircks, saturated my watch & rings & puddled along with me on my return to the lab across the hall.  No problem.  Dressing changed.  "Keep some pressure on that, honey." followed by "Peroxide? We don't have that here."
      But, having lots of time to kill & Perrier (Dr. #1 is kidney guy so I'd been hydrating for the previous hour for my not-needed-this-week donation), I emptied their canister of cotton balls & a bottle of bubbly & went to work on the wardrobe & jewelry.  My new Dr. @2 was SO sweet - and concerned about the pallor from the back spasms caused by doing the "bend-and-scrub" - so she suggested I rest a bit & slowly, carefully start my homeward voyage.  Oh, and "Your blood work is great!". (Been there so long, they'd had the time to do all 9 orders AND generate a printout).
      Of course the truly UPSIDE was that today, I got to kidney guy in a timely fashion on my new best friend - The Tide - and received a glowing report from him as well.  All of which put me in the best of moods as we motored at break-neck speed to Portsmouth for Trick-or-Treating with the peeps.  Felt SO New Age.  "Appointments went very well.  And I just love that light rail."
      In between the two fateful Mondays, there were lots of other surprises.  And me without my tin-foil-hat.  Tuesday, 10/25, marked the 8th anniversary of Jen and Ross' 'burning trolley' wedding.  And surprise! NONE of the confirmed-delivery-by-Tuesday gifts arrived.  (Actually one arrived, but contained the wrong item)
      So, partly because of THIS let-down, we said "Sure." when they unexpectedly asked if we could extend our baby-sitting afternoon at their house to an overnight at ours.  And, surprise!  Emma - 4 - and Charlie - 18 mos - and their bags - 10 or so, give of take - arrived at 11:00 AM Saturday.  They were SO excited.  We would play ball, ride around in the red Mustang  rag top, music blaring, get to play with rubber duckie in the hot tub before nite-nite, walk our beagle, Bridie - and give her treats (like the 8 year-old milk bone carrier I'd found & had out to empty & wash to give Declan as he's train- ing Max) AND have ravioli & french toast in the morning.
      They had a ball.  And we had them packed & delivered home Sunday in time for Molly and I to go to lunch & then see "The Mighty Macs" while the guys watched football.  I cheated apres the movie and had some WONDERFUL "cheesecake delight" ice cream with Molly. (can't have sugar)  Once back at their house, I promptly passed out on the sofa. (hypoglycemia).  But it was still a fun-packed weekend.  Once home, Phil walked Bridie whilst I went room to room, discovering, disposing and disinfecting the MANY results of her feast of 'aged' treats. 
      The evenin
      Friday afternoon, thought I'd spend some time with Emma.  Mommy was all a-dervish with Halloween decorations PLUS preparing for the Sunday Football gathering which she was hosting.  Steelers (all of the guests) v. Patriots (the Matt-Julie-Mia renegades in Boston).  So Em and I went to see "The Mighty Macs".  She was adorable in her matching garnet headband and slippers (adorned with huge garnet gems).  That the 'slippers' slid off every 20 steps or so - because they are inside 'slippers' - was of no moment.  We popped into Barnes & Noble & got 2 silk rope bookmarks with red hearts at either end and tied them around the slippers ala ballet shoes.  Worked.  Kinda.  But the warm embrace of the theater seat for 2 plus hours worked even better.

     Perhaps you're beginning to understand why the 10/29 switcheroo.  Busy is as busy does.  And I was busy doin' so that 10/31 would have a most memorable ending.  Think it worked out.  I mean, I'm just sayin'.

Lorane. . . .

Saturday, October 29, 2011


The Great Halloween
      As we all know, dear reader, 'fiction' asks us to suspend belief.  This evening's post does just that.  Imagine, if you will, that it is October 31, 2011 - Halloween.  And imagine that the photo to the left is properly aligned and clear.  surely, it is appropriate in that we are in garb especially selected to enjoy a costume Halloween party.  That it was taken before the six-pack was even cracked is but a tribute to our ineptness in the realm of photography.  That we actually wore these items cannot, by way of description, dare employ the use of the word "tribute".  The reasons requiring my composition of a Halloween story prematurely will be explained on October 31.  They, too are not worthy of tribute but DO tune in if only to say Boo this coming Monday.
      On an appropriately cool, dark night, damped with fog, a neighborhood of masked, midget marauders had prepared excitedly to march door-to-door seeking munchies and amusing assortments of fungibles in honor of All Hallows Eve. (They, however, had the date right.)  Unbeknownst to these little revelers, a group of miscreants, armed with retaliatory mischief for the non-compliant, thwart/tort/pillage and loot our costumed innocents to secure provisions for the anticipated long ice-age ahead.
      Their booty was to be stashed in an abandoned gazebo adjacent to the property that sported a marble likeness of King Neptune at the edge of its water-surrounded point.  Its owner/plotter (OP) prized the piece along with his pool and winterized lanais.  OP had a devious plan - indeed a tribute to HIS scientific acumen.  Helium-filled, giant, colorful replicas of the King Neptune statue, the whimsical (and plentiful) mounted mermaids which graced the port city of Norfolk and the equally magical mounted mustangs that dotted the Outer Banks of Dare and Currituck Counties in North Carolina had been assembled and were at the ready.
      When their 'originals had been safely enveloped within, nary a single costumed nubile would dare non-compliance if approached by these threateningly huge 'creatures'.  Just as these artful originals were proudly mounted beautifying their surroundings, so, too had OP 'mounted' the details of his plot to undermine the plot of fortune-acquisition by the Trick-or-Treaters.  Being the very soul of fairness, however, he planned to strip them of only half of their fun.  His 'ghouls' would be fetching just the Treats.
      The 'beauty'of this counter-plot was the beauty of these precious works of art plus the NICENESS of the NCIS detail which was already stealthily poking around the Hampton Roads area.  They would rather destroy Abby's dog collar than demolish, nay, even dent this special statuary.  Now, OP had created a potion that actually breathed life into statues, thus opening the door for OP to assemble his very own army of 'monument minions'.
      With a thirty-five foot tall King Neptune doing his bidding, those little ones would 'hand over the chocolate and nobody gets hurt'.  Talk about cooperation.  As Coach Kathy Rush once said of failure, "Get out the winter clothes."  In THIS instance, that would translate to "It will be a cold day in Hell if we ever let ourselves be so vulnerable that we have NO defense."  Talk Radio hosts like Nancy on "How Do You Roll?" were flooded with calls from hysterical parents without a clue once OP's plot began.  It was "tin-foil-hat" kind of stuff.
      Nobody was wearing their tin foil hat which deflects dangerous rays that can lead to mind control and other mental distortions.  That is why everyone believed they were seeing giant monument minions!
      And at six PM, King Neptune and Company had inflated a reptilian-hued replica of the Monitor using OP's handyman's top-of-the-line compressor, got in, attached an outboard and motored down the Lynkhorn Bay to the Lynnhaven Bay whence they disembarked and disseminated.  The mustangs hoofed along the city streets (land attack); the mermaids plunged in and swam through the maze of the perfectly-routed Tidewaters. (sea launch)  OP, having memorized the routes of the new light rail (The Tide) in place at the time of the caper, bought the most efficient round-trip tickets and secreted them in King Neptune's crown.
      King Nep was to ride The Tide and use his tine to pierce and nab booty as swiftly as his webbed feet would permit, securing it in his stash and carry, re-usable, 'green' net sac, then Tide back to rendezvous at the Gazebo point by nine PM before NCIS - now really rollin' to make good the kids' Halloween.
      Then, OP/Master-mind would get to the business of deflation - sapping the air from the many Cammi-colored, ruses constructed for the occasion.  BUT.  Some pieces of the puzzle were lining up - contoured edges smooth and flush;  traces of a mysterious contaminant were found and analyzed from the mustangs' droppings; spy photographs snapped the owner amid the rogue regiment at the gazebo executing mission orders: stockpile booty in gazebo storage trove.
      The Wrap-Up


      Return All statuary to proper homes
      Return to HQ
      Write, file and submit report

SEALS:  Dismiss:  No such regional rampage.  Prudent resolution in the face of a potential epic engagement. (Military town, after all.)  SEALS then trekked through the icy night to The Tide Newtown Road Station to stand stolid and strong, facing East until the light rail project is completed.

COUNTER-PLOTTERS:  Inspection of bounty
                                              Ingestion of one selection
                                              In bed at nine PM

PARENTS: Get out real winter clothes
                     Grope downstairs for exhausted treat
                     Go back upstairs:
"Honey, WHO lifted the kids' stuff?"
"Dunno.  Gotta catch 'Bones'."


(Slow, eerie noise)  "G-H-O-U-L  N-I-G-H-T. . . ."

Later, Lorane. . . .

Thursday, October 13, 2011


        Don't ya just HATE gettin' sick?  You know - or perhaps you don't - or don't even care - that C. G. Jung, psychiatrist/analyst extraordinaire, wrote that one succumbs to physical illness at times because one's psyche is SO frustrated and hurt, even, about its being ignored by the conscious mind, it fiendishly causes your immune system to cave/dip/blink, if you will, thereby permitting physical illness serious enough to force bed rest.  Certainly not a protracted stay, but an amount of time to THINK, reflect, take stock of one's emotional health. 
        Thus it was that upon being visited by the 'flu' or whatever pathogen usually has its way with 'commoners', I did.  But before getting down to the business of listening to my inner self; to discovering and dealing with what must be the diabolic but dormant disturbances that are threatening my psychic equilibrium - in much the same way that arthritic joint pain threatens total immobility - I first meticulously set up 'psychic shop' in my bed. 
        I donned freshly-boiled PJ's and slid onto similarly-sanitized linens and perched - having first grabbed a yet-to-be-published manuscript written by a new friend, should enlightenment regarding potentially incipient neuroses not pounce post-haste, I reflexively hit the remote permitting an attack by purulent national and international NEWS.
        (I wish we could get into that manuscript - "A Spy at Home" by Joseph Rinaldo, something of a new friend to me but no literary parvenu to his readership.  In fact, our very meeting was somewhat 'threatening' - in a way that 'things that go bump in the night' can threaten total immobility secondary to emotional paralization.)
        On our national scene, NO movement seemed to have been made toward the discovery/recovery of that infant angel-child, Lisa.  This tragic story plods forward, a reminder of our vulnerability - in when in the supposed cocoon of our own home.  On a larger scale nationally, the convoluted circumstances surrounding "Operation Fast and Furious" is still being trotted about but the pace was moving toward canter, carting along its cargo of cold darkness and death as volatile as the barrels of the arsenal of long, metal guns aimed at ITS heart.
        (One day, not long ago, while quickly rifling through the messages on my Facebook site, a visual among them assaulted my erstwhile e-correspondence quietude.  There in the center of the list of missives from friends and fam, lurked a profile photo - strange to me and, more unsettling, taking the final shreds out of any belief I may have remaining in the 'kindness of strangers'.  This was no 'streetcar of desire'.  Rather it generated in me that ole threatening feeling - the way being thrown under a bus threatens cessation of all physical activity.
        Standing in profile was a trench coat-clad man; he was peering into a home through the front entrance door which seemed to have been rendered ajar by his advancing, silent leg; finally his intentions were as dark as the black revolver he held in his raised/poised hand.  The photo was accompaniment to the message-sender's identity - Joseph Rinaldo.  BRAIN:  'We do not know him'.  The 'icing' for me was the white, reversed-out print superimposed on the image: A Spy at Home.)
      Capping off the NEWS-NOT-TO-WATCH while one is abed, attempting to heal - physically AND emotionally, was an ominous olio of international intrigue set to be staged on 'home' ground.  The very same Attorney General Eric Holder, whose reputation for relaxed recollection had been alluded to earlier in connection with the 'Fast and Furious' debacle, called a press conference at around four in the afternoon - that coveted 'after-school/pre-dinner/homework-helping' family time - to announce that 'NOTHING HAPPENED'. BUT.  Were it not for a legion of cracker jack security/justice folks who follow HIS malapropisms and marching orders, the Israeli and Saudi embassies as well as the Ambassador from Saudi would have been 'Ashes-on-Embassy-Row'. 
        And.  The engineer of THIS 'almost' was a car salesman from Texas who enjoys dual American-Iranian citizenship and HE would have 'driven his Chevy-to-this-levee' allegedly at the behest of IRAN.  The shores of the Potomac remained calm in the face of this averted action but our Secretary of State made it crystal clear that she was NOT pleased; this plotting business was NOT nice; Iran will most assuredly be hearing from her/US.  This news was followed by a spate of specious/sporadic speculation which expressed summarily OUR distaste/dislike of ANY such 'Cloak-and-Dagger' non-activity.
        (Feeling electronically violated by this 'Spy at Home' guy, I asked my husband - still reclining at the time - what to do.  "Delete it"  was HIS trigger-response/solution.  But first I checked with a few friends about security problems on the site.  My dear friend, KD immediately inquired RIGHT ON MY WALL, "what kind of security issues on facebook?"  Daunted, I deleted, reported and changed my password for the second time in ten days. 
        Yes, I'd been 'hacked' the previous week so naturally I was getting edgy.  Let's face it, dear reader, I still recall when 'hacking' was a participle - like demonstrating or working.  I seem also to recall a time when it was associated with a taxi.  Imagine, then, my consternation as to what evil motivates the 'hackerazzi' to elevate their intrusive/injurious pastime to the level of a sacrament.  Well.  I wasn't having any more to do with it.  Rather, I visited my secure social sites - one of my PERSONAL favs
        On the third such page of unusual hunting, I found the two common denominators, whom I DID know from another venture, but my wandering orb stumbled upon a third name that had a familiar ring - Joseph Rinaldo!  No photo.  Very LONG, RESPECTED career in Tennessee in the investment industry but - GULP - now WRITING international spy fiction!  OOOPS.  It was the very same 'author' whom I had 'reported' on facebook.  He - in THAT instance - had, I came to find out when he replied to my embarrassed apology - sent me a message at the suggestion of a fellow writer we know in common, asking me to review his new book: A Spy at Home.
Joe was working with an OLD VERSION of the cover when he'd sent what I've come to call 'Scary Man' as his profile picture with the message/request to me.  PRESENTLY, you'd be looking for the cover to the left when his book comes out.  Speaking of which - his book, not its cover - Joe spins a fascinating, extremely well-written yarn of international intrigue from the vantage point of his most kind/likable/albeit competent retired CIA operative.  Indeed, I will crawl right out on that literary limb and tell you that ONLY if Iran's foiled plot of this week is committed to brightly-wrapped hard-cover fiction, will his foray be trumped.)
        Joseph Rinaldo wields a tricky quill.  Watch it.  Be alert.  Even so, you'll be shocked in the end.  But.  Better to be shocked than 'spied on', I say.  And, in that the NEWS kept 'breaking'; my endeavors to hear MY 'inner voice' and thus heal the psyche rendered impossible;  I read - an activity in and of itself therapeutic inside and out.  At the end of THAT day, I felt rested, lost in Joe's imagination, able to shut the door on the 'bad-news-blues'.  I strongly recommend it - reading AND Rinaldo.  If you're going to suffer intrusion, DO bring THIS 'Spy' into your home.  Better by far than 'chicken s____ soup.  Later, Lorane. . . . .

Thursday, October 6, 2011


      It was never optional - having a job - in my youth.  Perhaps, when I began high school, and began needing, then wanting 'things' like dance lessons, an enhanced wardrobe, a slush fund for movies, snacks and such, and it was my dual-working parents were doing their intrepid dandiest to provide the mere basics, I lock-stepped into the vast marketplace provided by New York City and got me one - or two during summers.  My high school - two subways and a bus from our Brooklyn apartment - was convenient, thanks to this same transit system - to 'the city' or Manhattan.  Mid freshman year saw me filing applications in large department stores where the harried staff was less likely to over-scrutinize forms/notice the applicant had indeed NOT achieved that magic, legal hiring age of sixteen.  Consequently, I was hired the second evening I ventured across the East River. 
      Macy's - the main Herald Square, 34th Street store - occupied an entire square block, reaching eleven stories into the hazy heavens.  That year, some plucky sales exec made the seminal suggestion of selling cigarettes by the carton only - at very competitive prices - on the Eighth Floor. The genius of this plan would be realized when sales increased on the entire floor, dedicated exclusively prior to this inclusion of this addictive, oh-so-nicely-priced, plentiful and wide assortment of brown flora, to china, earthenware, flatware - silver and stainless - crystal, glass and "special event" Gifts. And how fortuitous for the young, hungry, needy needing-a-job student.  Doubtful such luck would befall today's student, marching business to business seeking employment.
      (Au contraire, if the media gets even a glance from THIS writer, dear reader, she is met with marching students, to be sure.  They seem to come in two main stripes - those in need of work and those in need of 'walk'.  The latter are 'demonstrating' on Wall Street and the Brooklyn Bridge - above the very same East River crossed by yours truly so many decades ago - seemingly rebelling without a cause. Now conceptually, demonstrations are useful, often effective, historically relevant -sometimes FUN even.  Lest you think that ALL of my ventures into the 'city' were serious, arduous tasking, please sit corrected.
      There was that memorable Sunday in 1960, having told my parents that I was going with some school chums the The Cloisters - an historical, beautifully-maintained monastery where one could hear Gregorian Chant concerts on Sundays - in Upper Manhattan, we somehow found ourselves in Greenwich Village, standing right under that famous arch.  And we were among a throng of like-minded young people, growing quickly to mob-size.  This because, what with Viet Nam brewing, guitars were strumming to greet Joan Baez, coming to lead us in - you guessed, I know - a DEMONSTRATION!  The thrill of it all.  Joan wafted into the crowd; crowd locking elbows in solidarity; and, with flowers in her hair, she's leading us in singing, "If-the-Cops-Get-In-Our-Way-We're-Gonna-Roll-Right-Over-Them,-Roll-Right-Over-Them-Roll-Right-Over-Them.-If-the. . . ."etc. to the tune of, what else, "His  truth goes marching on".  Then, flushed but two hours later, home by six.  And joining my parents in watching the news.  Who knew?  There I was.  Suffice it to say, Mom took a somewhat dim - nay fascistic - view of fibbing and flower children.  But we had a REASON.)
      Macy's was to serve the dual purpose of lending a major assist in the build-up of the college fund as well as providing something of an education as well.  On the evenings I did not work, I took dance classes at a studio recommended by a fellow worker.  The instructor, a very talented but crazed Russian immigrant, gave discounts to Macy employees, showing his approval for our work ethic.  We were diligent and punctual and in that we also worked all day on Saturdays, we were something of a ubiquitous fixture on the Eighth Floor, my friends/co-workers and I.  Therefore, our track records were soon rewarded and mid sophomore year, I was selling china - a commission department to boot.  No more dealing with the grubby little old street person who, EVERY Saturday at noon would amble up to the counter, lean on an elbow, toothlessly request, "Ships o' da desert, shweetie" then howl at his "joke".  He smoked Camels.  I sprayed Lysol.  Only in New York. 
      I now boned up on the history of china and earthenware;  learned to be patient, suffer a different brand of fool.  "No Ma'am.  Johnson & Johnson makes band-aids.  Johnson Bros. make the Blue Willow pattern you're thinking of."  Or spending almost three hours with Nancy Sinatra, helping her select her formal pattern.  In the end, I convinced her to get Richard Ginori - "It's Italian!" - the most expensive Macy's carried.  I got the best commission.   The groom got the worst deal when his bride's boots walked six months after the nuptials.  Didn't work out.
      But we were working.  Now, young people have the same tuition loans to pay back but are losing the means to pay them.  They have MB A's and Smart phones but are vacating their Wall Street offices at the behest of their former employers, whirling through those brass revolving doors for the last time only to hit the streets where they have to first get past unruly crowds of demonstrators before they can begin to pound the pavements, looking for a new job.
      (Fortunately for me, having achieved my goal of going to college, I had elected to study nursing.  During those summers I was back in NYC, the Holy Trinity of the alphabet for THIS abecedarianLexington with a college friend whose parents owned the place but "summered abroad".
      Meanwhile, many of my counterparts were "Marching on Washington", protesting the war.  Sadly, young men - the same age as those 'sitting in', who served in the National Guard, had the unhappy assignment of forcibly removing kids with whom they should have been playing tag football from the formerly beautifully-manicured malls of D.C.  It must be pointed out, these demonstrators ALSO believed in their cause.  They were acolytes of national believers who desperately wanted the killing to stop.)
      Now, all lettered up and graduated, I was still able to work.  I returned to my 'city' and developed my specialty while paying education debts and saving for a wedding pattern. 
      (The element of common denomination, it seems to me, about people who can wear that coveted 'name tag' - "Intelligent, Working Person" is they ran into Mr./Ms. Opportunity.  If that's YOU, 'demonstrate' it.  HIRE 'EM!) 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Shaman - His Agonies, his Ecstasies, his Poetry

      This guy walked into an ER - about forty years ago - intending to make some extra money while working on his surgical residency and after taking care of some rather challenging patients over several of his free weekends, he found himself re-thinking his career choices.  His conclusions, as I know you've guessed, launched a ground-breaking specialization.  Surely it will come as no surprise, then, to you, that the highlights of this experience - his experience - of eventually becoming an Emergency Medicine physician will be shared here.
      Imagine my surprise, however, given the 'glum chum' atmosphere prevailing in this household since he retired, as I watch my fingers labor over the keys this evening, at my election to write about it.  And as is my wont, I am moved to at least try to parenthetically illustrate some of the emotions, motivations, and evolving processes of his specialization with excerpts of poetry.  More specifically, the crafted meanderings of Dorothy Parker which I mention up front lest anyone be confused by 'gender specific' pronouns.  This specialty is populated by men AND women; so too will be the artistic commentary about it.  Starting now.
      (Her mind lives in a quiet room, a narrow room, and tall.
With pretty lamps to quench the gloom and mottoes on the wall.
There all the things are waxen neat and set in decorous lines; And there are posies, round and sweet, and little straightened vines.
Her mind lives tidily, apart
From cold and noise and pain,
And bolts the door against her heart, out wailing in the rain.)
      The first ten or so years Doc worked with a group of family practitioners who, wanting more regular schedules, forfeited their private practices and joined together to work exclusively in the ER.  Naturally, our boy was the 'young upstart', all energetic, sponging up knowledge and experience, the "go to" guy in the group.  And his slower-moving, less excited and far more easily fatigued, colleagues were all too happy to let him 'go for it' - his it, theirs, that of the community - just wound him up and let him be the "Road Runner" of the group.
Young, leisure-suited, Doc Leavy, Jr.
      So it was that his experiential and exposural base grew exponentially.  Always a voracious reader, he would perch on the cutting edge, literally, of emergency procedures, encouraging them to follow suit - a 'following' to which they were most definitely NOT suited.  He was the rising star; theirs was setting peacefully at dusk, having walked the dogs, checked the ripening honeydews or snap peas, drawled a bit but mostly nodded off, 'listening' to the Missus. 
      In 1976, a new hospital was built in Chesapeake and Doc's group won the contract to operate the Emergency Department.  In that this was their second facility, they hired more new docs and our boy was elevated to Chairman of the new facility, a position daunting to his partners but abject Manna to him.  Throwing himself into it full bore, he wrote protocols - for the hospital, for the emerging EMS System of the city, for the ER itself.  The patient population grew as did the  body of knowledge about their presenting pathologies and the treatment thereof.  It's called progress.  Our doc embraced the challenge, learned new techniques and procedures, attended major conferences in this evolving specialty and would return re-charged, ordering new equipment, urging, teaching, spreading  the news that broadened the base knowledge required of the receiving, attending physician in the ER.  The younger, newly-hired docs gobbled it up.  The old school, hard core, resistant founders of the group balked.
      (If I had a shiny gun, I could have a world of fun
Speeding bullets through the brains of the folk who give me pains;  Or had I some poison gas, I could make the moments pass
Bumping off a number of people whom I do not love.
but I have no lethal weapon - Thus does Fate our pleasure step on!  So they still are quick and well
Who should be, by rights, in hell.)
      Enough.  By 1980, Emergency Medicine became a legitimized specialty, IE, The College of Emergency Medicine administered an official Board Specialty Examination nationally.  Doc Leavy and a friend  - soon to be a partner - were the first two Emergency physicians to take and pass the national boards in the state of Virginia.  With that, our boy moved on to the largest group in the area.  Based at a teaching hospital which established a medical school and became a Level I Trauma Center, he forged along, ahead, beyond most of his colleagues and for thirty years treated the most fragile, compromised, life-threatened people in our community at all of the facilities which this vanguard group covered.
      So many recollections of working with him were shared at his send-off salutes.  The night he was head-butted by a crack patient, losing five front teeth.  He got treatment, of course, but returned to FINISH HIS SHIFT!  He'd been spat on, verbally abused, reported (insensitivity - refusing to give a drug-seeker narcotics) and feared while respected by the nurses and EMT's.  Known for his Irish temper - and propensity to throw things - they spoke of learning to duck (or give him the RIGHT thing at the first request) to steel themselves against crying (or leave the room but provide a hardened replacement) of learning more from him than from ANY other source. 
      Because his motivation was pure even in the moments his manner may have been rough - "We are just NOT going to let this patient die or hurt or lose a chance at healing.  That's why we're here - to DO IT RIGHT BECAUSE WE CARE!" This refrain was repeated by doctors, nurses, techs, EMT's, even patients in attendance at his 'farewell fetes'. 
      (Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song, a medley of of extemporanea
      Their job is not pretty.  Which is why they recalled how much they'd laughed with him as well.  This phenomenon is common in any group of people who work together in an atmosphere where at any moment a man, woman, parent, child, priest or thief can slip away.  The miracle doesn't work.  And the 'miracle workers' cry.  But there was the day "Administration" circulated a memo suggesting a more homeopathic approach in the ER and Dr. L.  went out and bought ferns , hanging one in each examining bay;  looked the other way as the nurses became more and more confused as to why a paranoid schizophrenic was getting increasingly paranoid (because Doc's own son, working as a tech in the ER, was whispering eerie little nothings over the PA system that the patient could hear); absolutely refused to get a new car, driving a Chevy Impala convertible that was SO shabby, he once left the keys in, top down & ran in because he was late.  The car was running ALL night in an open lot and no one even tried to take it; refused to quit smoking but could ALWAYS be found, so concerned was he about the weather and therefore his patients' safety en route to their homes, that he sacrificed ANY free time he may have had to go out - in all weather - to the ambulance bay and check the skies.  And pity the nurse who, finding him to say, "Dr. L., Mr. X is going south."  Thinking of 92 year-old Mr. X, he'd snap back, "Then what the Hell are YOU doing out here!"
      But he also had that little way of always sliding on to sit next to a child on the stretcher when asking her questions.  And he could always be found sitting with the family -  shedding a few with them - after having to tell them their loved one didn't make it.  One of his partners calculated that over these years he had seen and treated over one hundred fifty thousand patients.  And so MANY of them would not be here today had he not.  And ole "tuffy" took it like a champ, last night.

      (I think no matter where you stray, That I shall go with you a way. Though you may wander sweeter lands, you will not soon forget my hands.  Not yet the way I held my head, nor all the tremulous things I said.  You still will see me, small and white and smiling, in the secret night. 

BUT NOT FORGOTTEN  - Dorothy Parker Poems)
Later, Lorane. . . .