SHARING THE WORLD, 2015 – WEEK 13

Share Your World – 2015 Week #13

What was your favorite subject in school?

Um, would you believe English? Followed by art and history? Probably no big surprise there.

books and the duke

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away” (George Carlin). When have you had such a moment?

At my age, this is an unfair question. I can’t remember anything I haven’t written in my Google calendar.

I remember …

The first time I saw Jerusalem appear at the top of the mountain, from the taxi I was taking from the airport to my first little apartment in Gilo.

Infinite Grand Canyon

Seeing the Grand Canyon and thinking, wow, that’s really … wow. Really.

What’s your choice: jigsaw, crossword, or numeric puzzles?

Crossword. Of course.

If you found an obviously abandoned car with $50,000 in the back seat, what would you do?

I’d assume the drug lord who left the money there would be back for it. If I take it, he will track me to the ends of the earth, then kill me and everyone I love.

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I’ve watched too many episodes of Law & Order, Castle, CSI, NCIS, and The Black List. I don’t believe anyone just “forgets” $50,000. If it’s there, someone put it there and probably not a nice someone.

I’ll just tiptoe away before I get into real trouble. Okay, maybe I’ll take a few hundred. They’ll never miss it.

DON’T HOLD ME TO IT

Tagline — Our blogs have taglines. What would your tagline be?


And this is as reckless as we ever got. Reckless enough!

I’ve probably had a lot of taglines over the years. Life isn’t one thing. It’s a long book with a lot of chapters. No one is the same person at 68 as they were at 28 or 45 or 50. So, just for the record, I’ll go with: {Are you ready?} … {pause} … {Wait for it} …

IT SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME.

Don’t hold me to it. I have given this prompt the attention it deserves. Eighty-six words.

A HALF HOUR RADIO SHOW

See on Scoop.itBooks, Writing, and Reviews

This site hosts the original broadcasts of the cult radio comedy show “A Half Hour Radio Show,” syndicated around the US in the early 1990’s.

Marilyn Armstrong‘s insight:

When I was in college, I worked at the radio station. The people I met there included two husbands and almost all the people I call friends today. Sometimes, I was part of this show. I wrote some stuff, did voices on and bits. Hung around, heckled, made suggestions, joined in when another body was needed.

It was the biggest hit our little college station ever had. We were young, silly, and frequently stoned. Since then, the show’s producer, Tom Curley,  has put it through, many iterations, refined and rewrote it. After all these years, it’s still funny. You don’t waste funny.

Welcome to my fondest remembered past, the audio time capsule of my youth. From when the world and I were young …

The Show Must Go On

See on captclerk.podbean.com

BIG GUY AND THE CARDINAL

Garry was working weekends that decade, so whatever stuff happened on Sunday was part of his beat. This particular Sunday, the old catholic cathedral near our condo in Roxbury, was going to host Cardinal Bishop Bernard Law. It was a big deal for the neighborhood’s shrinking Catholic population.

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For a Prince of the Church to say Mass anywhere is an event, even if you aren’t Catholic. We lived one block from that lovely old cathedral. The neighborhood was buzzing.

It was a grand dame amongst local churches.You could see her former grandeur, though she was currently in desperate need of restoration and repairs to just about everything.

Roxbury was an almost entirely Black neighborhood. It had previously been a Jewish neighborhood which was red-lined by greedy real estate brigands. We had been among the first two or three middle class mixed-race couples to move back to Roxbury. We hoped we’d be the start of positive move for the neighborhood, including how it would be reported by media and perceived by Bostonians. We had chosen it less out of altruism and more because it was a great location. Convenient to everything with lots of green space, lovely neighbors, and compared to almost any other place in Boston, affordable.

It was not crime central. You could leave your car unlocked on the street and no one would touch it. I know because my neighbor tried desperately to have his cars stolen, going so far as to leave the keys in the ignition for weeks. Not a chance. People watched out for each other in Roxbury. I never had better neighbors, or felt safer.

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The morning on which Cardinal Law was due to visit, Garry called.

“I was telling Bernie (Cardinal Law) that you used to live in Israel and are really interested in religion and stuff.”

“Uh huh.”

“So he’ll be dropping by for a visit.”

“When?”

“I think he’s on the front steps. Yup, there he is. Gotta run. Love you. Have a great day.”

BING BONG said the doorbell.

I looked at me. At least I was dressed. The house was almost acceptable. Thanks for all the warning, Gar, I thought. Showtime!

And in swept His Grace, His Eminence, wearing his red skull-cap and clothed in a long, black wool cloak. Impressive.

Big Guy stretched. Our Somali cat — the best cat in the world and certainly the smartest, sweetest and gentlest — was our meeter and greeter.

Big Guy

Big Guy

I offered the Cardinal the best seat in the house, the blue velvet wing chair by the bay window. Big Guy promptly joined him. We chatted for almost an hour. Israel, the church, whether there was any hope St. Mary’s would get funds to repair and upgrade before it was too late.

The neighborhood. A bit of church politics. Although Bernard Cardinal Law was ultimately blamed for the long-standing and terribly wrong policy of the Church in hiding the misdeeds of child-molesting clerics, this was years before that story came to light.

The man I met was wonderfully intelligent, friendly, witty, and a pleasure to spend time around. Which was probably why Garry was so fond of him and considered him a friend.

When it was time for the Cardinal to depart, he stood up. Big Guy left his cozy spot on the warm lap of the region’s reigning Catholic cleric. And that was when I saw the Cardinal was coated in cat hair.

Oh! Exactly what does one say in this odd circumstance?

“Wait a minute, your Eminence. Let me get the pet hair sticky roller and see if I can get some of that hair off your long black cape?” I was pretty sure the cloak needed more oomph than a lint roller. It was going to need some cleaning power beyond my limited resources.

So I shut up. Wincing with foreknowledge, we parted company. As he and his retinue swept out my door, I pondered how life’s journey takes strange side roads, unexpected twists, and turns. This was one.

“Meow?” questioned Big Guy. Clearly he liked the Cardinal and it had been mutual. I believe Big Guy came away from the experience with some special, secret understanding of Truth. I, on the other hand, felt obliged to call my husband and warn him that Cardinal Law was dressed in more than he realized.

“Oops,” said Garry, master of understatement.

“Yup,” said I, equally downplaying the difficulties that would arise from the incident. I had wrangled with Big Guy’s fur. I knew how bad it would be.

Some weeks later, when Garry, in the course of work, again encountered the good Cardinal, he called my husband to the side for a private word. The other reporters were stunned! What scoop was Garry Armstrong getting? Rumors ran rampant. Armstrong was getting the goods and they were out in the cold. Mumble, mumble, grouse, complain, grr.

“Armstrong,” murmured the Cardinal.

“Yes sir?”

“You owe me. That was one gigantic dry cleaning bill!”

“Yes sir, Your Eminence,” Garry agreed. “Been there myself.”

“I bet you have!” said Bernard Cardinal Law. And the two men shook hands.

When the other reporters gathered round and wanted to know what private, inside information Garry had, he just smiled.

“I’ll never tell,” he said. “Never.”

But now … YOU know. The truth has finally come out.

IT’S THE JOURNEY

No project goes as planned. No vacation is perfect. Some part of every meal will not be ready when the rest of the dishes are served. Guests come early, late, leave too soon, or not soon enough. Complications, delays, bumps in the road are the companions to everything.

So many things almost happen. When I was newly back from Israel, I took a three-day weekend from my very new job to visit friends in San Diego. I bought a new weekend carry-on bag (I love luggage). Got tickets to San Diego — not easy because most cross-country flights out of Boston go to Oakland, SF, or LA — none of which are close to San Diego.

On local roads ...

I got to La Guardia airport, but the plane didn’t. I had a connecting flight in Salt Lake City. Four hours later, the plane was MIA. I demanded my money back

The perky young thing at the ticket counter explained, “These are non-refundable tickets. See? It says so right here. We can get you on a flight to Los Angeles tomorrow afternoon. How’s that?”

I was not feeling perky. More like an Arnold Schwarzenegger character about to do serious damage to an airport.

“I took a three-day weekend from work. I won’t get those hours back. I’m not interested in Los Angeles. It’s more than 3 hours drive from San Diego and I don’t have a car. By the time I got there — if I got there — I’d have to turn right around. I’ve had to spend money on taxis, lost my holiday time. All I got is a long afternoon in a waiting room. I want a plane to San Diego. Direct, nonstop because I already missed my connecting flight — or my money back. Now.”

I got the money. Took a taxi home. Spent the weekend feeling sorry for myself. Never made it San Diego and eventually lost touch with those friends.

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Our fondest illusion is control, that we’re the designers of our destiny. It’s the greatest promise we get as kids, and the biggest lie of all, that if we do “life” right, we can get what we want.

We know — because our teachers and our parents and everyone told us — that good work gets rewarded. Kindness will be returned. If we eat right, keep fit, exercise, avoid drugs, cigarettes and alcohol, we’ll be healthy forever. The bad things won’t happen to us. We will live happily ever after.

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From little stuff that goes wrong — flights cancelled, vacations rained out — to failed marriages and jobs lost, we get stripped of illusions. Injustice comes in an infinite variety of shapes and sizes, from tiny indignities to incomprehensible calamities. No one is immune.

Sooner or later, it becomes clear. We are passengers on the bus of life. We aren’t driving. We don’t even know what road we’re on, and have no idea of the destination. After a lifetime of trying to drive, I get it. The bus is going where it’s going. It is what it is.

It’s not where you end up. It’s a journey. I might as well enjoy it.


But No Cigar – Daily Prompt

NON SEQUITUR AND TRIUMPH

After a long string of relatively aimless, free-range days, yesterday came with a mission. I needed sunglasses and was determined to end the day with a new pair.

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I lost my prescription sunglasses during the wild and crazy weeks of October 2014 during which we were on the road most of the time. I don’t know precisely when they vanished or where. If I knew that, I could find them. I would not need new ones.

Did they fall out of my bag? Had I — as I am wont to do — shoved them in the side panel of the car door and they fell out along the way? Perhaps at a gas station or a diner? It has happened before, but always I noticed and retrieved them.

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I’ve been ultra protective of those glasses. I have worn the same frame for close to 15 years. Flattering. Comfortable. Elegant. I felt like a movie star when I wore them and I was sure I looked 25 years younger. And glamorous.

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Losing them was a minor tragedy. I have been in denial, sure they were hiding from me, but would appear magically somewhere I never thought to look.

But the days came and went … and as the sun gets brighter, I knew I had lost them for good. Like losing a friend with whom you share many memories. They’d been with me at Disney World. Ridden the Cyclone and Apollo’s Chariot at Busch Gardens. Climbed hills in New Hampshire and Maine, and helped me take pictures up and down the east coast.

I swam with them in the azure waters off Haiti. They protected my eyes while I gazed, awe-struck, at the Grand Canyon. Now, they were gone. Mourning time was finished. I needed sunglasses.

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I couldn’t go back to Walmart because I’ve been banned … not by Walmart, but by the crook who runs the Vision department for having the temerity to report his crookery to Medicare for double … maybe triple … billing. Whistle blowers always take a hit, but this was not such a big hit.

I had to buy my glasses at Lenscrafters instead of Walmart. Some might consider it an upgrade.

Yesterday I discovered the gorgeous new Ray-Bans I ordered 12 days ago would never appear. My prescription was incompatible with the frames. Only slightly daunted, we hauled ourselves back the Lenscrafters in Auburn. Where I ordered new frames and lenses. I would only buy a frame for which the lenses could be made “in-house” because my patience for waiting while the glasses when out to a lab was all used up. I was feeling downright cranky about it.

I explained that I would end the day with sunglasses. No option B.

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Determination won the day and I have a lovely pair of Ralph Lauren frames. The lenses are not the pure gray I expected but have a hint of rose in them. I can tell by the sky, which looks so much bluer than it does with my eyes alone. Although I’m still grieving for those I lost, I will learn to love the ones I’m near.

In the course of this longest day in months, we found ourselves needing to fill a 4 hour intermission while Lenscrafters tinted and ground my lenses. Garry and I are not mall rats, but we had a list of errands, many of them long deferred — as in have been waiting to get done for years.

First, though, we took a long walk to the other end of the mall to by a couple of Annie’s Pretzels … the absolutely best pretzels anywhere.

As I limped along, I though about Pat at CHRONICLES OF AN ANGLO SWISS. Pat has been taking daily walks, trying to regain her lost mobility. It has been working for her and she looks terrific whereas I look like a proper marshmallow. Thus I pushed myself from one end of the mall to the other and I though of her as I trudged along.

We are very close in age, similar in other ways too. If she can do it, I can do it. I kept walking. Remarkably, I began to feel better by the end of the walk. Maybe it is time for my long-delayed rehabilitation.

We ate our pretzels in the big massage chairs in the middle of the mall. Then we hiked back to the watch kiosk and Garry had new batteries put in his two favorite watches, neither of which has worked in a couple of years. Ticktock. Garry’s watches are telling time. Another check in the win column.

Three more hours to fill. In our senior version of mall hopping, we drove to Millbury where we hit PetSmart for dog food (bravely buying a different flavor — let no one say we are not adventurous) and biscuits to feed the ever-hungry pack.

One more stop.Target.

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It’s spring. The dust and the dirt of winter somehow seems dustier and dirtier than it did in February. I need to clean. And it’s long overdue for buying new mops, dusters, and various cleansers. Two and a half hours left to go. We went home to drop off all the stuff. Garry was bushed. Me too, but I had a bug in my brain. I wanted those sunglasses, damn it.

I called Lenscrafters. Ready!! Garry reluctantly hauled himself to his feet and off we went. Again.

I have sunglasses!

Our to-do list is completed. Exhausted but triumphant, we had survived our longest day. I’m ready for you, world. I’m safe from sun and prepared for the upcoming (or so rumor has it) warm weather with plenty of sunshine!

(Afterwards, the ballerina called her husband on a cell phone and told him to meet her at the two-story McDonald’s in the middle of Shanghai to celebrate ...)


Daily Prompt: Third from the Top 

MY STORY, BY JAMES LEE BURKE

I’ve sort of already written my autobiography. I called it The 12-Foot Teepee. A few people read it, but a fresh approach would surely give it new life.

Or maybe a less fresh approach. Definitely a different approach. Less sentimental. Darkly descriptive. Faulkneresque with shadowy, flawed characters trying to get past their guilt and regret for bad choices, damaged relationships, and murky pasts.

How about James Lee Burke?

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I love your books, Mr. Burke. Not just Dave Robicheaux, either. I love all of them, the flawed, crazy, haunted, alcoholic, bunch.

Will you please write my story? Pretty please? You’ve got the right style. You can describe my abusive childhood while adding a sufficient amount of wry humor to highlight the ironies of my adulthood. You do flawed people brilliantly and God knows, I’ve got enough flaws for a series.

Bizarre characters and plenty of them. The legion of the weird have marched through my life. They hung around for decades and they aren’t all gone yet. I seem to emit some kind of magnetism which signals to the misfits, miscreants, loners, and strangers in a strange land to come to me. I call them “friends.” Or I did. Many are gone.

in the electric mist with confederate deadMine could be the story which could be the movie you want to make. I know how hard you’ve struggled to get one of your wonderful books properly translated for the screen. So far, no dice.

I hope you don’t take it personally. Hollywood murders most books. It’s totally not you. It’s Hollywood being Hollywood.

Stephen King is a great author who keeps trying, but ends up hating “the movies” do to his material. The only recent author who manged to escape that fate was John Irving. He wrote the script for Cider House Rules himself. Got an Oscar for it. Have you considered that?

Script-writing isn’t easy … even when it’s your work. Maybe especially when it’s your work. But I’m digressing.

Maybe there’s hope for you, if you have the right property. Me. Stop laughing. I’m semi-serious here.

If you add your brooding, sardonic, Southern style to my outwardly ordinary upraising, meld it with the ugly reality of those years, and add a dollop of the bizarre life I’ve lived as an adult … In your unique style, how could it miss?

Good for you, good for me. It’s possible I’ll be dead by the time the book hits the virtual shelves and ultimately the silver screen, but it doesn’t matter. I’ll be the ghostly character, like the soldiers from In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead. Maybe I’ll hang around to see the reviews.


Ghostwriter – The Daily Post