You Push and I Pelt

Learning From How The Flowers Felt


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Sex Appeal and Beauty

Sex Appeal and Beauty

Sex Appeal and Beauty

When did beauty and sex appeal become intertwined?

It has been my experience that the two things do not go hand-in-hand, yet they usually are spoken about as if they were. I think about Jean Harlow, Mae West, Mick Jagger, Denis Leary who are all very sexy indeed, but not classically beautiful. Sometimes the disconnect between society’s definition of beauty and what is happening between one’s legs is explained in utter disbelief.  I would have more money for my laundry than I do if I had a nickel for every time I heard one of these phrases when a man couldn’t stop touching me or wanting to fuck me:


“Baby you are damn sexy.”

“It’s not one thing—you’ve got the whole package.”

“It’s your mind darling…Your mind is what turns me on.”

“It’s the connection I feel when I’m with you.”


Being the insecure cunt that I am, I usually ask men for further clarity in a bat-your-eyelashes kind of Sally Field ‘You like me, you really like me’ kind of way.  “What do you like about me specifically though?”  I unabashedly probe.

Inevitably, he sighs before grabbing my ass, tits or voraciously kissing my neck before explaining that my 43-year-old, overweight 5’4” frame is made of flesh he just cannot get enough of.  Then, I am held up in great esteem as the superior choice when compared to a model he shared his bed with the other week, the stripper he watched dance that night, or a young bartender with a perfect body that failed to keep his interest for very long.

“She just had nothing to say,” he explains.

I want to quip, “You cared about what she had to say?”

But, I hold back. Sarcasm and sheepish ego-satiating questions are like oil and water.

At first, I was sure every man was lying to me—assuaging my ego—telling me I was hot enough to fuck without blatantly lying, so that I would let my inhibitions down and he could do what he pleased, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. There have been too many unrelated instances of men telling me the same exact thing for this tactic to be the truth and the truth to be fiction. With these examples, and my understanding of quantitative studies—that is when reproducible results in two or more experiments creates validity—leads me to think the guys were and are telling the truth.  I may not be Cosmopolitan material, but it seems most of my casual encounters result in an erection and a man who is not content with wham, bam thank you Mam.  I usually am called the next day or so. He wants me.  He misses me and wants to see more of me though sometimes he is unable to articulate why.

I think about my attraction to David Bowie as a teenager. By no stretch of the imagination was he the hottest rock start in the 80’s.  He was not the epitome of a beautiful man, and yet the way he moved, his odd lyrics that spoke to my soul and his confidence despite the awkwardness made my fingers and toes tingle. Just thinking about the men I’ve been attracted to–famous and personally–who would never be Calvin Klein’s choice for underwear model still can get my panties in a bunch.  The way my first love bit his bottom lip and ran his sterling silver ringed fingers through his thick dark auburn hair is one of the sexiest images I can muster, but he was not beautiful. The untouchable and deeply sad eyes of a young man I could only look at from afar in college haunts me to this day—sexy, but not beautiful. The lawn mower guy with a thick head of dark brown hair, green eyes and disinterest in me was more sexy than beautiful – though he was both as a young man.

As I get older, the text of a frustrated love interest is sexy to me. “Okay you win-I happen to miss you probably more than you miss me. Call me,” it vibes and reads.   He doesn’t want to like me at all, but he can’t help it, and he admits it. It’s funny and real and that’s sexy. He likes when we read together and talk about math and science.  He even likes my obstinacy and absolute insistence that I do things my way. The last thing he wants to do is let me in, but he does.

I think most men love and hate that I cannot be controlled or held down.  I have a mind of my own and it drives them crazy. They like my passion and how I move. My honesty takes some aback. They try to unravel how I can be vulnerable and pissed off that I am vulnerable at the same time. Is it the mystery they find sexy?

It may be rare when beauty and sex appeal mingle, but when it does it makes for superstar fireworks that we usually only see in movies: Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Grace Kelly, Robert Redford, Mel Gibson, Tom Cruise, Melanie Griffith, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and I’m sure you have your own favorites.  Still, none could hold a candle to David Bowie for me when I was 18. It’s the whole package baby—the whole package. Now that I think about it some more, I might go so far as to say that sex appeal and beauty are like time’s arrow moving in one direction. In that phallic arrow, sex appeal can become beautiful, but beauty alone can never become sex appeal.  There is just no makeover for that one now is there?


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We Can Predict And Design Four Score And Seven Years From Now

What Are Patterns For?

Eighty years ago, nationalism sounded really great. It sounded great to the Americans. It sounded great to the Japanese, and it sounded really great to Germans.

The reality is that our intuition often can be a poor guide for change. Though it is almost certain that small things can produce sudden, big changes, more often than not humans are surprised and confused when sudden change occurs.

They Didn't Expect WWII
Barton Biggs (1932 –2012): one of the world’s first global investment strategists

In his Gettysburg Address, the first thing Abraham Lincoln did to honor the fallen was refer to The Declaration of Independence. He urged Americans to increase their devotion to “the unfinished work” of advancing liberty. Four score years later, the world was embroiled in a war that could have ushered in an era of oppression, fascism and tyranny, the very antithesis of Lincoln’s vision. Now, nearly 80 years after The Gettysburg Address was delivered (see image below for full speech), we are engaged in another pivotal time. It is the era of globalization that shall put humanity to the test. Can we recognize the small changes that are before us now and choose to create a better way?

Gettysburg Address

Tsunami Warning

We are on the precipice of globalization, and it inevitably will tear down the borders that have separated us as a people. The change won’t be easy. If history is any guide, I suspect most people will ignore the small signs that a tsunami is fast approaching. Most will be dragged kicking and screaming into the undertow of the digital age.

Like a deep underwater earthquake, the invention of the Internet and the subsequent rise of social media shifted our foundation at its core. The wave it’s created is closing in on land. The water in which people usually swim has been sucked out.  For the first time ever, those on the shoreline can see the bottom of the sea where they usually swam. Fish helplessly flip-flop around and previously hidden coral structures emerge.  Many scratch their heads at this unnatural looking landscape. Some run towards it for a better look. They have no idea of the unimaginable power heading their way at 500 miles per hour. What they are witnessing is the unveiling of a communal mirror.

My understanding of the human unconscious only scratches the surface. Crowdsourced inventions from a group of amateurs working on the project for the love of it usually are better than what professionals or so-called experts can create.  People with something at stake make better guesses too.  That’s called crowd wisdom. When we come together as a  crowd something powerful and greater than the sum of its parts happens.

The potential for the tsunami has always been there.  As the wall of water heads our way, awareness of the changing landscape grows. Things look different now, but few grasp that the metamorphosis is a radical shift and the landscape will never look the same again. Many will be hurt or will die in the event, for change never comes easy. Social media has just started to democratize business functions, but the C-Level suite is not immune. None of us are.

“In our democracy, 1% of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income … In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1% control 40% … [as a result] the top 1% have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and the best lifestyles, but there is one thing that money doesn’t seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99% live. Throughout history, this is something that the top 1% eventually do learn. Too late.”

Joseph Stiglitz, Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%, Vanity Fair, May 2011

United We Evolve

With the right combination of desire and action, we have new tools to bring society and the world to the next level. We are capable of much better things than what we’ve created in the past. This is not a political issue. We need only to breathe in the gray and polluted air, swim in trashed filled oceans and rivers, live with no clean water, or fear a looming water crisis, turn away from the extinction of animals and the more than six billion people who inhabit this planet to see the truth.  The Earth has never had to support the existence of so many human beings. A child could tell you that something is amiss.

There may be hope for us after all. The inherent trade-off between profitability and destruction does not have to exist. It does now, but only by our own design. The industrial age is over, but in its place is the power of connection, which waits to be unleashed fully. Comprised of individuals, our collective work has the power to become the true democratizing force for our world. Should we choose to make the world a better place, we now are more able than ever before. Our survival no longer will depend upon having to be separated by and defined as people representing companies, states, countries, languages and ideologies. We no longer have to work as cogs in a machine that produces something we cannot obtain and which is foreign to us because we know of only one stage in its manufacture. Today, we are all able to contribute and become fully aware of the entire creation. This is our age—the age of information and connection—which, I hope, will historically be remembered as the time when we woke up and evolved into humankind.

To Conquer Division of Labor

This thing we term “the crowd” is ringing the industrial age’s final death knell. Its faithful servant, division of labor, a myopic mass of ignorance, rests in the coffin next to it. The assembly line has fizzled out and will be a chapter in a history book. The crowd has the power to fundamentally change current economic and political systems that are based upon scarcity. The rise of social networks and information sharing democratizes power and can hasten the birth of a meritocracy. The elite few need only to leave it alone.

Though individuals comprise the whole, together they form the collective unconscious, an entity unto itself. The collective unconscious now has a tool that lets it listen, speak, judge and translate as one, and that tool is all of the social networks. The rise of connectedness and sharing hastened experiments with crowd-wisdom, crowd-funding, crowd-voting, crowd-sourcing and the discovery, now called counter-intuitive, which causes some substantial uneasiness, shows that an undivided human race (the whole) performs better than a fragmented one. The Internet is our unification tool and catalyst for a new and happier age that awaiting our design.

Buddah

From the dawn of civilization, great thinkers have struggled to create an organizational structure to be the proxy of the collective unconscious. The unrelenting drive for individual power eventually eroded all of these structures no matter how well designed they were. It could be argued that America is the best one to date. What prior societies lacked was an ability to join together. The crowd is not going away, but I wonder how well it will cooperate.

Divide and conquer has been used successfully in war, economics, politics and labor since the dawn of civilization. It is based upon the truth that the whole is less powerful and easier to overcome when it is torn apart. At best, complex challenges become easier when divided into smaller, more understandable units. At worst, division allows an elite sovereign to control populations for personal gain. I would be naive to believe world leaders are unaware that unification via Internet opens the door to the power they currently hoard. History teaches us a free Internet will be threatened by those in power seeking to maintain their individual status.

The worldwide web allows individuals from around the globe to choose their subject of interest and get to work on it. In the future, I imagine human beings from abject poverty, with little or no formal education and who don’t speak the same language being able to do the work they love unhindered. We hear about the widening gap between rich and poor in our country, yet pay little heed to the gap between rich and poor on the Earth. The injustice and outrage that disenfranchised workers from western societies feel now is the same injustice that third-world countries have suffered for years. How many Einstein’s had to till a field, or work in the rice paddies to keep from starving. What happened to the Venezuelan Hawking, Nigerian Newton, Chinese Marie Curie, Bosnian Monet, or Ecuadorian Beethoven?  Now, the Internet gives all people a chance to emerge, be brilliant and advance the human race. Wave patriotism good-bye and say hello to a new way of thinking: If you work hard doing something you love to do, you’re likely very good at it and will be able to survive by sharing your gift with the world. It has value. The tradition of scarcity and the concept of money are disappearing because they’ve been illusions all along.

“The dominance of the greenback is the root cause of global financial and economic crisis…The solution to this is to replace the national currency with a global currency.”  Justin Yifu Lin, Former Chief Economist of the World Bank

So, what is our new currency?

The mindset and setup Americans inherited from the industrial age isn’t relevant and doesn’t work anymore. You know what I’m talking about: the daily grind that’s been instilled in us since birth, or perhaps before that. It goes something like this. We wave good-bye to our youth and grow up. We work for a living because we’ve been taught that if you work hard, you’ll be successful. We drive to and from where our work requires us to be. We endure long hours to prove our commitment to the company through its downsizing, outsourcing and trimming of the fat. We get married, have children and buy a house. Now, we fear being a part of the next round of cuts because it will hurt more than just us. We can’t imagine what the reality of not having a job looks like, so we push the thought out of our mind, smile bravely, dress and act the part and live our lives as-if they will happen to us sometime soon.

Good News – Your Job No Longer Exists!

This Just In - You're Not Working

We have breaking news. Nearly all of those who are employed at companies and factories will lose their jobs, if they haven’t already. The unemployed in mid-career will not be hired for full-time work ever again. They shouldn’t think the reason is because someone pegged them as too old, overqualified, under-qualified, over-educated or not educated enough. The jobs no longer exist. It’s that simple.

This is great news. This is your time to break free, devote yourself to liberty and invent a better future. The past doesn’t predict the future though it should inform it. There’s a brave new world that is waiting for all of us to design and it looks more like Star Trek and less like now. It’s taking over quickly–like Tsunami, 500 m.p.h. quickly.  We shouldn’t stand on the beach scratching our heads. We can make the new currency. Our combined knowledge is the new wealth.

To get in on this deal at the ground level, start by asking yourself a few questions:

  1. What have you done to help someone today?
  2. What have you contributed to make the world a better place?
  3. What do you want your legacy to be?

“We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”  -Ronald Reagan

Extra! Extra! Share/Post About It!
                                 Extra! Extra! Share/Post About It!

Together we are more powerful than we possibly imagined.


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When Do Megabytes The Dust? An Update to A 2012 Hub Page Post

Grave Markers For The New Millennium

When our virtual persona outlive us what is the right thing to do with them? Should Facebook pages of the deceased become their grave markers? Will Facebook be haunted with virtual ghosts? Or, should our pages RIP with our other belongings?

We caution children about the content they post, explaining it can take on a life of its own. When we issue these warnings do we consider our own mortality? If asked, most of us would say that what we share online is a reflection of us-the lives we live outside of the virtual realm. Though we would be wise always to operate under the belief that nothing sent, published, tagged or posted will ever be a secret again, as humans, we likely do not always follow such a conservative protocol. It is difficult to always keep the fact that potential employers, love interests, neighbors, friends and enemies, will peek at our virtual selves and judge us on what they see. Although we want our online persona to show our best selves (for the most part) it is beyond our ability to consistently maintain awareness that everything we do online becomes a part of the public domain forever.

Now that Baby Boomers and GenXers have entered the second half of their lives, there are more stories about posthumous Facebook pages because we are finding that online personas have a power and life of their own.

Messages From Beyond

On a blustery Saturday in the winter of 2012, I received a message from my Facebook “friend.” I didn’t know she had died seven days earlier. I clicked on the little quote, but instead of a Happy Holidays wish, it was her sister, also a friend of mine and old college roommate, who was writing to me. Her message was a personal obituary for which I wished I had been warned. A flashing red message box might have prepared me. Pancreatic cancer had claimed her sister, and my Facebook friend. Formal services were held earlier that week.

“I thought you should know,” the message read. “I was going through her things, and saw you played Gardens of Time, but not until after the funeral.”

It was true – we played a few Facebook games together. She and I had reacquainted after more than 20 years apart. I gushed about Facebook reuniting people like us. Her house at the end of Main Street in my artsy, eclectic hometown was the center of all action back in the wild 80s of my youth. As a teen, I baby sat her children. I hung out at her pool nearly every summer day day between 1985 and 1988. She was elected as our driver when we saw Pink Floyd’s Momentary Lapse of Reason concert at the Vet in Philly. After graduation, I went to college, and from there started my adult life. I forgot about high school, my hometown and my friends from there for a while.

In 2012, I asked her “Would we have ever met up again without Facebook?” She said no. We shared brief messages like this before trading requests for items in the games we loved to play. “Please send me a present, so I can build my fountain?” I clicked and sent a request to her about four times a week. One or two days later, the gift was delivered to my inbox. This back and forth went on for a year, during which time she never mentioned the chemotherapy, radiation, nausea, sleepless nights, losing her hair, and the suffering she endured.

On June 26 2014, the news of another friend’s untimely demise shook me. I found out through a cryptic post on Facebook.

“Goodbye Marquis!” It read.

“Huh? Couldn’t be.” I thought as I punched out a rushed comment on my phone, hoping to quickly dismiss my suspicions.

“Sounds weird.” I wrote. “Did the Marquis finally go native to that giant Congo in the sky? Message me privately.” I referred to things only friends and readers of his would know. He had visited Africa and written a book about it, entitled “Going Native.” My high school friend’s message back was quick. It confirmed my worst fears.

“He died. Sad to say he hanged himself. I guess he always was the master of his own destiny, so in a crazy way, it makes sense. Hope you’re well.”

I wasn’t well though. I felt sick. He was only 55 and I hadn’t spoken to him or seen him in years. We weren’t even friends on Facebook, yet I felt as if I had lost someone really close. I felt guilty about not being there for him, strangely enough. He was one of those staples that towns like ours come to rely upon. He defined what was cool about us. He was well educated, irreverent by accident mostly, I think, and a living dichotomy. He was a writer, a junk man, a mower of lawns, a connoisseur of French cooking and wine and a country man who loved antiques, but who had lost everything he loved in this horrible economy.

“Damn. That’s really bad news.” I messaged back.

“Shitty eh? Sorry to have to tell you the hows of it all.”

The messages ended.

When Should Megabytes The Dust?

In 2012, I called a friend for advice.

“What are your thoughts about death and Facebook?” I asked him.

He told me about one of his friends who had died a year ago. “On his birthday and anniversary, this whole social circle pays homage on a Facebook page. They post that they miss him, and they share memories…maybe leave virtual flowers,” he described.

What do you do?” I asked.

“It’s all too strange for me. I don’t go,” he answered. “Too macabre!”

I contemplated Facebook pages as virtual shadows. I turned to my friends the poets for guidance. Has the digital age silenced death’s finality? Will social media give us more comfort as we grieve?

In Macbeth, Shakespeare wrote:

Out, out, brief candle!
 Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
 That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
 And then is heard no more. It is a tale
 Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
 Signifying nothing. — Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5, lines 17-28)

Robert Frost’s last line in”Out Out,” which is inspired by Shakespeare’s Macbeth, reads:

"And they, since they were not the one’s dead, turned to their affairs."

Will it be our friends and kin or the courts who will turn to our affairs once we are dead.  Who will decide for how long our sound, fury and megabytes shall live on Facebook?


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Mayberry Amidst Mayhem

Preface

Southern Californians affectionately call Seal Beach “Mayberry by the Sea,” comparing their town to the fictional setting of the popular 1960s sitcom, The Andy Griffith Show. Andy Griffith’s Mayberry had one traffic light, a sheriff, an inept deputy, the lowest crime rate in North Carolina and one long-distance telephone. Seal Beach California has 23 traffic lights and 31 police officers for 24,000 residents who crowd into fewer than two square miles of residential space. A natural wildlife refuge and the U.S. Navy occupy the other 10 square miles. The Internet speed from the most prevalent carrier crawls along like a turtle on dial-up. A gated retirement community accounts for half of the residential square footage. A 2011 tragedy, the likes of which hadn’t been seen before or since in Seal Beach, sent Mayberry by the Sea’s crime rate soaring. Without this aberration, the crime rate in Seal Beach is regularly about half that of California and the US. Both Andy Griffith’s Mayberry and SoCal’s iteration of it are predominantly white. Seal Beach is 84% Caucasian. Both are old-fashioned. Andy Griffith’s Mayberry was filmed in the 1960s, but hearkened back to a time in America more like the 1930s. The average age of Seal Beach residents is 20 years older than the US average. Both the fictional and real Mayberry towns are acutely aware, almost to the point of paranoia, that out-of-town robbers, scam artists, people with felony warrants and vagrants could ruin their slice of the American dream. Los Angeles County borders North Seal Beach, so there is some justification, but it’s possible that a town’s desire to keep safe amidst mayhem can make it intolerant and inhospitable.

I lived in Seal Beach for the first six months of 2014. Every week for comedic enjoyment, I read the police blotter in the typo-ridden volunteer newspaper, The Sun. Long-time residents have a running bet on which story they will vote most ridiculous at the end of the year. Typical stories are about officers shooing possums from garages, checking in on potentially abusive parents whose toddler’s tantrum had alerted neighbors to the horror of a 7 PM bedtime and counseling the potentially insane—those Bluetooth wearing culprits who talk to themselves in the park.

Resident surfers from the ’60s lament “The place isn’t what it used to be,” but they have no plans to move any time soon. Yes, Seal Beach is safe, but the trade-off is a stuffy sort of oppression. I blame the population density. Privacy is at a minimum and premium. I felt as if there always was a “concerned citizen” peering at me with two fingers wedged between closed blinds and another placed in the rotary dial ready to call 9-1-1.  In all fairness, maybe I will be the same way in 30 years. Perhaps the mantra better safe than sorry is what has protected Mayberry by the Sea from its more crime infested neighbor to the North—Los Angeles’ Long Beach. However, the overbearing police presence destroys the very concept of peacefulness for which the town Mayberry stands.

Here’s one take on how an innocent day for new Seal Beach resident, Murphy Lawson, can take a turn for the worse under the watchful eye of “concerned citizens.”

All of the police reports in this story are real; taken from the June 17th, 2014 edition of The Sun.

Google Earth

Seal Beach Aerial View

For the Dogs

New resident Murphy Lawson was ready for a new start.  He carefully picked his keys up from the table and tiptoed toward the door to make a quick bank run before lunch. A month ago, he had moved his family to Seal Beach, a quaint town as historic as Southern California gets. There were quite a few houses that had been built in the early 1900s. Several had been restored to their former glory and stood tall and proud upon the beachfront. The town had a unique charm usually reserved for places steeped in history. Seal Beach reminded Murphy of the good things from his home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  He liked it here and was eager to make a good impression on his neighbors whom he hadn’t yet met. The street fair that was being held that day seemed a good opportunity to do so, and Murphy wanted to take out a little bit of cash before it started.

His attempts at slipping out of the house unnoticed were unsuccessful. As if on command, the dogs heard the keys jingle and leapt toward the door; wagging, panting and begging to go with him. Murphy reasoned that since the family would be gone for hours, the dogs deserved a ride.  They would be trapped inside for the latter part of the afternoon. He didn’t have the heart to say no. “C’mon guys,” he waved them along toward the car. They jumped in the back seat when Murphy opened the back door as if it was their first time going anywhere. It wasn’t, but their unbridled enthusiasm always put a smile on his face.

In true LA form, Murphy drove the eight blocks to the bank and parked. It was an exceptionally hot day, so he left the engine running and air-conditioning blasting. He hopped out of the car and clicked the key fab to lock it behind him. On cue, the horn honked twice. There was a small wait for the ATM, but his turn came quickly enough. He got up to the machine and before he had the chance to enter his PIN, the unmistakable red and blue lights of a police cruiser lit up the parking lot. Like any respectable east coast native would do, Murphy tried to ignore the commotion behind him.  The murmur of the small line for the ATM grew louder and forced him to take notice at what was happening in the lot. To his surprise two police officers were at his car. They peered inside. The dogs started going nuts; barking and hopping wildly between the front and back seats. One of the officers tried the door handle and the car alarm blared. Now, Murphy was paying more attention.

He turned anxiously back to the ATM half in hopes that he was imagining everything and it would go away if he ignored it long enough. He punched in his PIN. It was wrong. He punched it in again. It was right. The next screen asked him to choose a language preference. “Oh C’mon-you’ve got to be kidding me. Can’t we do this later” He felt the glare of the impatient line in back of him, and punched the Spanish button on the screen by accident. “No!  Goddamn Spanish!” He howled and resisted the temptation to hit the screen. He didn’t speak a word of Spanish.

Murphy had been muttering out loud pretty loudly.  A glance over his shoulder revealed a rather large contingent of unhappy Hispanic bank customers.  Some shook their heads and looked down. Others were more like the gum smacking, paunchy, angry woman next in line. She stood with her arms crossed high upon her large chest and stared at him unblinking through squinted eyes.

“Definitely from the east coast,” he thought “Newark maybe?”  It took forever before the ATM finally spit out his cash and receipt. “Muchas gracias Senor,” the machine sang happily. Murphy snatched his cash, mushed it into his palm along with the receipt and turned to face the angry woman. He shrugged at her as she marched forward to take her turn. In two steps, the beep, beep, beep of the ATM signaled that Murphy had forgotten his card in the machine. He spun back on his heels to grab it back, but the “Humph,” of the angry lady blocked his access. She had claimed the machine as her own and was intent on blocking this Hispanic-hating man from getting his card back. In desperation to get it back, he reached over her and his fingers grazed her shoulders, but he wasn’t fast enough. He felt and saw the plastic card snap back into the ATM.  It had been swallowed up in a flash, eaten alive, claimed by the bank as its own, hasta la vista baby.  Murphy backed off from the woman who had turned around in a fighting stance and he inhaled deeply. “Accept what you cannot change,” he murmured to himself. “Accept your fate…”  He hadn’t really accepted anything, but he had to deal with the police and dog circumstances unraveling before him.

The Spanish diatribe of the ATM machine only was drowned out now by the car alarm. The two officers looked as if they had started to strategize. One gripped the handle of his nightstick while the other nodded—almost too enthusiastically.  Murphy rushed toward them fearing their next move. When he was within ear shot, he shouted “Officers, what’s the problem here?”

They turned almost in slow motion and answered in unison “What?”

Before he could begin to explain, Murphy realized the key fab was still in his hands. He clicked on unlock and the alarm stopped whizzing, beeping, honking and chirping. The once restful block had been awakened with Murphy’s declaration “This is my car! These are my dogs! They have air conditioning!”  Murphy looked at the officers and then at his crazy dogs jumping back and forth in the seats and slobbering over everything. He shrugged his shoulders again and added a smile.  He was sure one of the dogs had peed on the driver’s seat. One always did. “License and registration please,” one of the officers said. Murphy fumbled in his back pocket for his wallet and handed the cop his documents.

The cop’s partner explained that a concerned citizen had called in the emergency when he had left the two dogs in the car with the windows rolled up. “But I was running to the ATM for one second officers.  I don’t understand how someone could have called you so fast.  I literally just got here,” Murphy tried to explain.

His words fell on deaf ears. “Please be aware of the danger here Mr. Lawson.”  The officer examined Murphy’s license in one hand and heaved up his pants with the other.  “Leaving your dogs unattended in a hot car with the windows rolled up is a very dangerous proposition indeed. I’m going to let you off with a warning this time because your dogs seem to be okay, but don’t let us see this happen again.”

“Yes sir,” Murphy replied.  Murphy  just wanted it to end, so he didn’t respond with any of the things he wanted to say. After the officers took off from the scene, Murphy stood in the bank parking lot scratching his head for a while. He started to feel eyes on him and opened the car door. “Ah, perfect.” He thought as the urine-soaked driver’s seat seeped into his khakis.

POLICE BLOTTER #1

June 2014

Some 31 police officers perform a variety of welfare checks in Seal Beach. Leave it to the Digs!

 War Hero

Murphy turned over the morning’s events in his mind. He tried to make sense of it all, but the timing of the call was inexplicable. It took only seconds for him to slam the car door behind him and walk to the ATM. To quiet his nerves and the barking beasts in the back seat, he had decided to drive home the long way, around the park and along the shoreline. He had only gotten a few blocks away from the bank when his cell phone rang. It was his elderly father Steve, a Korean War vet who had lost some of his wit, but none of his angst. He was ranting about those damn “zipper head cars” that were recalled for faulty relay switches, “…or some such horse shit,” he’d always add. His dad announced “I’m coming over now, so you can look at this hunk-a-junk you made me buy and tell me whether it’s okay,” adding “I know those damn zips probably did it on purpose.”  Before Murphy could object to the blatant racism and impromptu visit his dad hung up. Murphy worried about his father. He hadn’t yet visited their new neighborhood and he often got lost while driving, while thinking, and even while talking. To make matters worse, the old man refused to own a cell phone, so there was no way to reach him and Murphy knew his Dad was racing his car toward Seal Beach at this very moment. His father had always loved racing cars and his advanced age hadn’t slowed him down a bit. Murphy murmured a prayer, “Please God let him take it slow. Don’t let him put the pedal to the metal. Dear God let him see the street signs and remember that he’s not avoiding mine fields in Korea.” Murphy was muttering these prayers repeatedly when a thought came to him. He remembered that he actually had a relay switch in the garage somewhere. “Will wonders never cease?” He began to perk up and let his fingers start tapping the steering wheel in rhythm to the music on the radio. If Steve arrived in one piece, Murphy might be able to perform a quick fix. “Maybe I can get Dad in and out in under an hour and save the day.” Murphy, always the optimist, turned up 92.3 Hot Oldies, rolled down the car’s windows, stopped muttering to himself and started whistling. 

POLICE BLOTTER #2

Please God! Let Dad know Korean Tanks Are Not Behind Him

Teenagers!

Meanwhile, Trixie, Murphy’s 16-year-old daughter, met up with Ronny, her newest crush at the Greenbelt, a stretch of grass in the center of town. Ronny had been head over heels with her since he first layed eyes upon her. The Greenbelt was the park that had been built on the site of an old railroad line. Ronny introduced himself to her one day after following her on one of her walks. He had pretended to bump into her.

Today, weeks later, they met up again as boyfriend and girlfriend. In typical nonchalant teen fashion, sprawled out on their favorite park bench with a group of friends. Trixie almost felt accepted, so when she saw her father drive by on Electric Avenue, she held her breath.  When he drove past, Trixie exhaled.  “Thank God!” She was relieved he hadn’t seen her because her parents were so un-cool and very strict. “They’d ruin my chances at popularity before school even starts,” she thought. Admittedly, Trixie didn’t want her parents to see her hanging with this group of kids either. They looked a bit rough around the edges. Low hanging waist lines and skulls on their T-shirts could have given the wrong impression.  Her parents would have easily misconstrued them as gangbangers, even though a closer examination would have reveled surf boards, white teeth and organic juice; all obvious indicators that they were just young teens trying to be cool.

Today a couple of them planned escapes from their parents insistence on going to the street fair. The surfers prepared for the epic surf expected that night. “Dude, it’s the biggest swell in a decade,” one of them said. His lackey followers nodded, each chiming in “Right on.” ‘Yea Dude Right On-Righteous.” In fact the surf was so epic that they had pitched a tent, so they could surf until they dropped without wasting time on needless terrestrial travel. 

As soon as Murphy’s car had turned the corner, Trixie announced, “Gotta jet. Catch up later K?” She figured the chances of getting out of that stupid fair would be much easier if she spoke to her parents separately. Since her Dad was still driving around and running errands, she had a short window to take advantage of. Plus, Ronny’s younger brother, whom they all called Goober had been showing off a BB gun all morning. Ronny had tried to snatch it from him twice but hadn’t been able to. Ronny was more annoyed than he had let on in Trixie’s presence. He had sensed her annoyance early on with Goober and his BB gun. Ronny was so enamored by Trixie that he would have done nearly anything to spend one more moment with her. “C’mon,” he begged. “Don’t go so soon.” He pleaded with her for a while, but she insisted on leaving.

When Trixie had disappeared into one of the alley ways, Ronny didn’t hold back. He blamed Goober for Trixie wanting to go before angrily grabbing the BB gun from Goober’s hands. Two BBs were discharged accidentally. One hit a bottle on the ground and the other nearly shot a seagull flying overhead. The noise sent all of the teens scattering. Trixie heard the shot and picked up her pace toward home.

POLICE BLOTTER #3

Juveniles Scatter Like A Buckshot

Trixie arrived home in what seemed like seconds. She held on to the railing to climb the steps of her porch. At the top she paused to collect her thoughts, catch her breath and consider how to approach her mother. Before she had thought it all through, Trixie just went for it. She stormed into the kitchen confidently, but her pleas to get out of the fair didn’t work. Her mother slammed the spoon she had been mixing cookie dough with down on the table and declared “No way!” Trixie turned to her old standbys. Her mother hated raised voices and yelling of any kind, so Trixie started a fight.  If Murphy and the dogs hadn’t returned the crescendo of the decibel level might have persuaded her mother to let Trixie out of the family obligation, but Trixie was out of time. Murphy arrived and took over for his wife. “You’re going Trix! No ifs, ands, or buts about it. One more word and I’m taking your phone away for a week,” Murphy threatened. He was happy to be the disciplinarian. With that hiccup well in hand, Murphy turned to the job of saving the day’s plans and headed toward the garage to search for the relay switch.

Trixie had lost the battle, but not the war. Defiant and spoiled, she did the unthinkable. She picked up the phone and pretended to be a concerned citizen when she called the police.

POLICE BLOTTER #4

Blotter Raving Husband

My Dad (a-hem) I mean my Husband…

     

“That call was perfect,” she thought as she hung up the phone. The bangs, whizzes and booms coming from the garage would convince police. Then, Trixie slipped out the back toward Ronny’s house where she planned to spend the night. She didn’t want to be at home when the cops showed up and had almost had made a clean getaway when her mother caught sight of her. “Your daughter’s going over to that boy’s house again,” she yelled into the garage. “Please go and get her Murph! She shouldn’t always get her way you know.”

Third Time’s A Charm?

Murphy heard and tried to ignore his daughter’s defiant, distant and what had recently become all too familiar cry: “I’m running away! I hate both of you!” He frantically sped up the search for the relay switch, but, it was of no use. He was forced to grapple with the truth. Spending time with his family at the fair was nothing but a crumbling dream. He was sweating like a pig, smelled funny and looked a little like a mad scientist when the dogs began barking again. Red and blue lights were in his driveway. “Oh no,” he thought. “I hope Dad’s alright!”

Obviously, the call wasn’t about his Dad.

After Murphy had been completely humiliated in front of the crowd of neighbors who had ventured from their houses to watch Murphy get a scolding from the local police, he felt the phone buzz in his pocket. He waited for the neighbors to disperse before pulling it out and reading the text. It was from Ronny: “Trixie locked herself in my parent’s bathroom. Help!”

Murphy’s heart sank. He didn’t want to deal with Trixie’s teenage antics after the day he had just had. He waited until the cruiser was well out of site before getting back into his car. It still smelled like urine from the morning. The wetness seeping back into his pants, which had since dried was a rather cruel reminder that he had been wearing the same pants all day and must have smelled like a sewer in front of the last set of officers. The car radio was still on, but he didn’t have the heart to whistle to Neil Diamond sing “I’m a Believer.” Trying to look on the bright side, he managed a chuckle as he reviewed the bank, his father, who still hadn’t arrived and the scene at home that had just concluded. With that behind him, he thought, he had had his quota of police interactions for the year –for a lifetime! As he made the turn up the hill to Ronny’s house, he relaxed in the knowledge that lightening doesn’t strike twice, let alone three times, in the same spot. Murphy’s optimism was dashed when he saw those old familiar blue and red lights flashing in Ronny’s driveway.

POLICE BLOTTER #5

Trixie’s Tricks

Stay tuned for next week’s episode when Murphy discovers the street fair is a car show, and Trixie has to take her punishment. Now, a word from our sponsors…


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What A Strange Name For A Blog

Lodgedsad fleurs

By Robert Frost

The rain to the wind said,

“You push and I’ll pelt.”

They so smote the garden bed

That the flowers actually knelt,

And lay lodged–though not dead.

I know how the flowers felt.

Revived FleursRevived!

By Julia Fine

Stems refuse a staid wilt.

Blooms choose to revive!

Flowers lift up from brown silt

With a strength that betrays their size

And acute-angled tilt.

Gardens tend to be rebuilt.

What’s It Mean?

I showed a friend my new blog when he tilted his head to one side and asked “What’s the title mean? It’s kind of weird don’t you think?” He carefully chose his words. The question motivated this post, which explains why I named it “You Push and I’ll Pelt.” I thought it wise to write a post about the subject, as potential readers might pose similar questions.

Perusing for inspiration in a book of poems, I randomly turned to “Lodged.”  This little known gem of a poem about flowers that take a beating from wind and rain was almost too apropos.  Perhaps the title will attract other poets, Frost fans or curious readers? Though odd sounding, I instantly fell in love with the words, Push and Pelt. I had found my title.

The words, I think, are a gate keeping mechanism, or as some might even argue, protection for my delicate ego, since the title may not generate a ton of interest. I want curious, well-read, open minded readers. I respond well to constructive feedback, but stupidity is another story. I defend my values like a pit bull, and I’ve seen bloggers chased away from forums by angry, anonymous commenters. Since, I would get wrapped up in that type of fight, I liked that this title might appeal to someone like me—clearly not a marketing decision designed for the masses.

Also, it doesn’t sound like the names of other blogs. Being status quo is so dull. I believe most people aren’t as boring as they’d like to appear. For me, normalcy is a stressful facade, a mask we all wear at some point or another—some better than others. I take the road less traveled because it’s where I feel most at home, and I wear the normal mask when a situation demands it. Society prefers the consistency and reliability that normalcy offers. It’s comfortable for the collective.  However, individuals pay the price in the form of lost creativity, connectedness and intolerance for our glorious differences.

Life Only Gets Harder

My mother laughed at my tears in high school when I threw tantrums about the kids making fun of me.  I wasn’t popular enough, skinny enough, or rich enough for my tastes. I complained about having to wake up at 6:00 AM every morning, and Mom would sing out “Lazy bones, sleeping in the sun. How you ‘spect to get a day’s work done?”  Then, she’d add, “Enjoy these problems now. Life only gets harder.” “How could life get any harder than 10th grade?” I thought, but of course, she was right.

There are times when Hurricane Katrina-like storms are unleashed upon us. When I cried to my father, who was fighting liver cancer, about life being so crappy he smiled and said, “Yeah but what’s the alternative?” It was meant as a joke, but there’s been times when I needed to remember that he smiled when asking the question.

The storm in my life brewed for years, and when it finally hit, its fury stunned me before I dropped to my knees. It twisted and turned me around so badly that I had to retreat. It was then that I seriously thought  about his alternative. In the eye of the storm, I met other survivors. I found that nobody is alone with their struggles. Nothing can prevent us, rich or poor, healthy or sick, from trudging through tough times. “Lodged” reminds me that nothing escapes the shadow of seemingly bigger powers. We’ve got to make the best of it. We’ve no alternative but to get through the storm, pick ourselves up from the silt and rebuild our gardens.  As much as events can push and pelt us down, great moments lift us higher. My sky brightens when I blast “Ode to Joy” in my car and cry, which is inevitably followed by laughter that I’m crying. Clouds dissipate when I spend sweet time with Frost, Burns, Shakespeare, Path, Lowell, Stevenson, Emerson and Wordsworth. The sun peaks out when I stand mesmerized before the dappled light in a Monet series. It gets even brighter when I finish a novel that tears at my heart; Steinbeck is the biggest offender. I once threw “Of Mice and Men” against the wall – HARD. The final sentence made and ruined my whole week in one fantastic instant.  There are real people who’ve inspired me too. The sun would shine down upon us and the temperature rose when my husband would spin me on the dance floor. I always loved the way he moved.  When my girlfriend and I could just sit for hours together without uttering a sound and still know what each other was thinking about. These are the moments that feed my desire to go on, to grow and that give me faith brighter days are beyond the deep valleys filled with tears.

Bring It On

Big snowflakes rarely last, driving rain storms taper quickly, and delicate things like flowers, egos and the human heart come equipped with flexibility enough for the rebound. My blog, “You Push & I Pelt” represents the first step in a personal rebuilding. The title honors what I hold dear: being slightly off-center, having integrity, loving poetry, respecting truth, and honoring the universe that guides me.

Like my add-on poem above, I’ve pulled myself from the silt ready to push and pelt right back. Bring on the next round. This time, I am determined, wiser and more focused. I am tough, but balanced by a more empathetic, experienced heart. My eyes and dreams are cast toward the light, yet I won’t forget how the flowers felt.

I am unabashedly proud of my unique perspective. I don’t care about popularity or meeting others’ standards. It’s time to celebrate my wins, losses, joys and propensity for melancholy. For years,  I wandered lonely as a cloud rarely sharing my writing and never asking for help. From that journey, I’ve learned how flowers bounce back. They can do more than curl up and just survive. I am reaching out to join the thousands who line the garden path tossing their heads in this sprightly dance we call life in the 21st century.

Daffodils (an excerpt)

By William Wordsworth

For oft when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude

And then my heart with pleasure fills

And dances with the daffodils.

Daffodils and Blue Sky