PROMPT’S FOR THE PROMPTLESS: A VISUAL JOHARI WINDOW

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The Johari Window is a method of representing information (regarding feelings, experiences, motivations, intentions, attitudes, etc) – from 4 specific perspectives. It is a technique to help you understand how you are perceived by others, and how you see yourself. The perspectives include:

  • Open area: The things you know about yourself, that others also know about you. This is the area into which anyone of good will is welcome. Yes, even you over there in the corner.
  • Blind area: The things you don’t know about yourself, but others know. Around here, we call it denial. Everyone can see it but you. It is powerful. If I wanted to see those elephants, I could. I choose not to and strongly recommend you avoid even mentioning those pachyderms lumbering about, knocking over the tea trays.
  • Hidden area: The things you know about yourself that others do not know. I keep my secrets. If you entrust me with a secret, it is a secret forever, even after you die. If I choose to not reveal my own secrets, woe be he or she who tries to breach that locked door.
  • Unknown self: The things no one knows about you. If I don’t know and you don’t know, isn’t it obvious I can’t tell you? Sheesh.

This is a very tall order. With a Scorpio moon warning me to keep my secrets, let no one into those dark corners … and my Pisces sun saying “Does it matter? Just go with the flow!” while my Leo Ascendent itches for the attention, the winner — as usual — is Saturn sitting conjunct my ascendant.

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“Caution, caution,” he warns. He weighs heavily on the cusp of that first house, nailing everything into place. He always has the last, cold, rigid, judgmental word.

Thus of the four areas in that big box, the only one I can really share is “Open” or “Known to Self.” I can show and tell myself. Show, mostly.  So, what’s  to see in my Johari boxes? I sound like an ad for a credit card “What’s in your wallet?” What does my map look like? It’s a photographer’s Johari box! of course … the lay of my land, so to speak.

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PROMPTS FOR THE PROMPTLESS – LIFE IS A LIST

And as we head off on vacation, there are so many things to remember …

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FOR THE PROMPTLESS – LAPSUS LINGUAE AND BIG MISTER MALAPROP

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Once upon a time when me and the whole world were a good deal younger, my father had a business partner. I don’t remember his name, but he was a big, bluff Russian who used to come over the house, visit, and make gallons of cabbage soup. He must have thought there were a lot more of us than there were because my mother couldn’t figure out how to store so much soup, even though we had a full size standing deep freezer in the basement and a huge fridge in the kitchen. He and my father would go into the kitchen and produce these gallons of soup. We all had to eat it for weeks until we were sure we were turning into little cabbages.

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Bob (or whatever his name was) was accident prone and an enthusiastic teller of stories, most of them about his own misadventures.

“So I was at the beach, at Coney Island” he says, almost shouting because he never said anything except very loud. “Very sunny. Blue sky. A nice day to take my mother to the beach, let her relax in the sun by the water. She is just settling down with her chair. And she asks me if I’ll set up the umbrella for her. I mean, she didn’t have to ask. I always do it, but she always asks anyway, like if she doesn’t ask I won’t do it. I took her to Coney Island, what did she think, I’m going to leave her to cook in the sun?”

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We all nodded dutifully. Because he was my father’s partner and we were kids, so what else was there to do?

“It’s a big umbrella. With stripes. Red and yellow. I got it myself, on sale. Umbrellas are expensive and this was a good sturdy one and I paid bupkas for it. If you ever need an umbrella …” and he paused to remember what he was going to say. “Anyway, this was one of the good ones, with a heavy pole so it would stay put.”

We nodded some more. Our job. To nod. Look very interested.

“I opened the umbrella and had to find the right place to put it because, you know, if it’s in the wrong place, the shade isn’t going to be where you want it. So I walked around a bit until I found just the right place. Then I took the pole and a jammed it into the sand as hard as I could and it went pretty deep. Seemed good and solid.”

We were still nodding. I must have been — maybe 10? — and had been taught to be polite, no matter what, to grown-ups. We did not call adults by their first name. I think my teeth would have cracked if I had tried or my tongue would have stuck to the roof of my mouth.

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“What with everything looking okay and my mother settling down in her chair with a book, she looked happy. So I figured it would be a good time to get something to eat and I told her I would go get us some hot dogs — and something to drink. She said that was good, tell them to leave the mustard off because — she’s always reminding me but I know, I know — she doesn’t like mustard.

I walked all the way over to Nathan’s — that’s a pretty long walk, all the way to the end of the boardwalk — because they have the best hot dogs” at which I was nodding with real enthusiasm because Nathan’s really does have the best hot dogs, “And I love those beef fries. I got five, two for her — with no mustard — and the other three for me because I was hungry,” and he paused to pat his large belly, “And I started walking back. I could see where to go because of the umbrella’s stripes. I could see it all the way from the boardwalk.”

Nod, nod, nod.Nathans at Coney Island

“The weather suddenly was changing … some clouds were coming in from the ocean. It was getting a windy — a bit — and this was happening all of a sudden while I had gone to get the dogs. Funny how the weather changes so fast along the water, you know? So now, I’m almost there. Up comes  a big puff of wind and that umbrella pulls right up out of the sand and flies at me and whacks me over the head. Boom. I thought my whole head was going to come off.

I dropped all the food and fell right over. Like a rock I fell and just lay there. My whole brain was like scrambled eggs. They had to come and take me to the hospital. I was completely compost for TWO DAYS! Two days! Completely compost!”

Be careful of flying umbrellas at the beach. They will turn you into compost. That’s not good, especially when your hands are full of hotdogs.

LEDA DOES THE SWAN

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The happy couple.

Back in my bright college days, I was for the first 2 years, a music major. When my fellow wannabe musicians hung out on the quad on warm sunny days, we would plan projects that were going to make us famous. Symphonies were planned. Great achievements as conductors and composers were spun as glorious dreams, although I don’t know that my class actually produced anyone who really hit the big time. Medium time seems to be as good as we got.

But my dream, my great project, was a full musical comedy based on the story of Leda and the Swan. I thought Broadway because in those days, there were no computer generated graphics to make the impossible real on-screen. Now, I think perhaps Hollywood would be the correct venue for this masterpiece.

In the Greek myth of Leda and the Swan, Zeus, in the form of a swan, seduces, or rapes Leda. Which is never made entirely clear, but I vote for seduction since I have a lot of trouble visualizing getting raped by a swan. Even as Zeus, swans are not agile except in the water and their lack of hands and arms would seem to make rape difficult.

Regardless, Leda becomes pregnant by Zeus as swan. She bears Helen and Polydeuces, both children of Zeus in his swan modality. Simultaneously (I’d like to know how she manages this) she gives birth to Castor and Clytemnestra, children of her human husband Tyndareus, King of Sparta.

In the myth, Leda is able to convince her parents and husband her extra pregnancy was not the result of a lover. No, no! Honest to gods, really, no kidding, it was Zeus who did it. Not merely was it Zeus –not some guy — but he was in the form of a swan!

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Hey, Zeus? Is that you?

My favorite scene would be the first act closer. In a highly emotional musical extravaganza, Leda pours out her distress in a heart-rending lyric soprano rich with passion. She explains — to hubby, mom and dad —  it really truly was Zeus.

Leda: Even in the form of a swan, I knew it was Zeus. And you all know how much I love birds and feathers, right? I mean … what girl could resist such a gorgeous bird who is, after all, top God in the Pantheon? No kidding. I wouldn’t lie to you.

Tyndareus, King of Sparta: I want to believe you, but I’m having a few problems with this.

Leda: Trust me, dear. It was Zeus. He was disguised as a swan. You know how clever he can be.

Later, we all get to see the central event, Leda’s experience. In a carefully choreographed dream sequence, Leda relives the heady romance of the seduction. I’m assuming it was seduction rather than rape. I mean, how big was that swan anyhow? And, uh, some of the technical aspects of the experience make for interesting mental meanderings. How, exactly, did … well … Never mind. This is a G-rated site. Suffice to say it would make a heck of a scene. Now that CGI has come of age, with some well done special effects? Wow. This could have the audience on its feet!

There’s more. Depending on which version of the story you read, Leda either give birth to babies … or lays eggs. Lays eggs? Really?

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Zeus and Leda?

Eggs open up a whole new world of possibilities. If she lays eggs, does she have to sit on them until they hatch? As Queen of Sparta, can she order her court attendants to sit on the eggs while she performs her royal duties?

Does she build a nest? In the palace? Do the hatchlings feel a compelling urge to dive into lakes and ponds? Are they born knowing how to swim? Or more to the point, paddle? Do they have webbed feet? How do they feel about feathers?

I no long feel up to writing a musical comedy, but I freely offer this amazing concept to anyone who feels inclined to flush it out. I think it might just launch more than one career. You think?

PROMPTS FOR THE PROMPTLESS: LOVE NOTES TO JOE

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Love oh love oh careless love … Okay, how about careful love? Is that better? A love full of caring is a good kind of love.

I love my husband. My son and his family. My granddaughter. Our friends and our furry kids who have the good taste to adore us in return. I love the flowers in the spring, fresh snow covering the ground (but not if I have to shovel it!). The smell of grass right after cutting. The pure sensuality of hot water over my body (though for some reason, it’s hard for me to take that first step to get wet) … and how my hair smells just after washing.

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Above all of that, all of my people, my creatures. Beyond sensuality, companionship, music, books and all other things that give me joy ..

I love coffee.

coffeeThe smell of it as it brews. Mmm. The heat from it as I wrap my hands around the cup. Ah! That first taste, that delicious embracing taste. It’s the taste of morning, a sip of glory. I am sure that God made the world in six days (or six billion years, whatever … six something anyhow) … but on the seventh whatever … He, She, They or It made coffee. And then rested, feet up, in a state of utter and complete bliss.

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How do I love thee, my cup o’ joe? Through all of my ill-health … through surgeries, cancer, recoveries and pending heart surgery, my first question following diagnosis is always “But I can still have coffee, right?” Because even should they say no, that coffee would kill me, I would drink it anyway. Life without coffee is not worth living.

There are some things too precious to give up.

I love coffee. Really. Love. Coffee.

FORTHEPROMPTLESS: I WANT IT ALL!

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I am so confused!

Futo maki? Tempura? I could have the sushi dinner … although the mango chicken is looking pretty scrumptious right now. What are you having?

Stupid me, why am I asking? You’re having the sashimi deluxe. That’s what you always have. Not that’s not a criticism. It’s an observation. Why are you laughing? Well I’m glad you find me amusing. It hasn’t been half an hour … has it? Really? Well, it’s a very large menu. Yes, I know I’ve seen it many times before. That doesn’t help.

I do too have a sense of humor. It’s just I like almost everything on the menu. I want it all. I think I’m drooling.

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Maybe I should have a dinner. I could get a bit of everything. Well, not everything, but a bunch of things. Except I can’t eat that much … it would be a waste.

Of course. Thank you for reminding me. Anything I don’t eat, you will take care of for me. What a nice husband you are! I can always count on you.

So what would you like me to order? If you’re going to eat it, it might as well be something you enjoy. Shrimp? Yeah, I could do that. They make a wicked tempura. Shrimp and veggies or just shrimp? What do you think? I could get futo maki as an appetizer. I would share it with you, right? So nothing would get wasted …

Stop laughing at me. I’m going to spill my tea.

FORTHEPROMPTLESS: HONNE – A good friend is forever.

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Cherrie and I have been friends since our children were toddlers. Now we’re senior citizens with adult grandchildren. Our husbands are pals too. I am there for her, she for me.

Cherrie dreamed about me when she was a child and recognized me when we met. Believe it or don’t. It’s true.

We are friends, sisters and each others’ biggest fans. We recognized each other when finally we did meet. Over the years, though we’ve been separated for years at a time by thousands of miles, we’ve always found each other. In more than 40 years, we’ve never fought. Our disagreements end in laughter. Laughter cements our relationship.

I came back from Israel, having been away 9 years. I was never in contact with Cherrie during those years and didn’t know where in the world she was. After I got back, I stayed temporarily in my ex-husband’s guest room. I met a guy who published a jazz newsletter; he asked me to write an astrology column for him. I agreed.

Ed distributed his “Jazz Ragg” by leaving piles of them in lobbies of business buildings.

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Me and Cherrie, a tripod and a timer

Cherrie worked in one of those buildings. She saw a pile of newsletters. Normally, she would have just walked past, but for some reason, she stopped. She saw an astrology column by “Marilyn.” She skimmed it. She said “That has GOT to be my Marilyn. What are the odds?

She had been my editor. She knew my writing. She found my ex-husband’s phone number … and me. That was 1987.

Today we are as close as friends could be. When something is troubling me, I call her. When she is upset, worried bothered, she calls. We see each other as often as life allows, which isn’t nearly often enough and never as long a period as we want it to be. Which would be always.

Love is not only romance. What we share, as friends, is love, as true a love as any romance could be. Mixed in with the love are healthy doses of mutual respect, joy in one another’s company and a passion for giving to each other.

Best is that we call each other to celebrate the happy things, good stuff. Because her husband bought her an adjustable bed for her birthday. Finally, she can to sleep without pain. Yay! When one of our kids is doing better, when a grandchild succeeds. When we are making plans because we try to include one another, though it doesn’t always work out. And often, we call just because. Because I need to hear her laugh. She needs to hear my voice.

People use the term friend very loosely nowadays. They apply it to people they barely know, have just met. Friendship is not a minor relationship. A good friend is forever, no vows required.

Cherrie is my rock, my person. She knows me as well as I know myself. She holds a piece of my soul and keeps it safe.

 

Prompts for the Promptless: 502 Shining Lights

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In the midst of one of the more difficult weeks of my life, with all of the Sturm und drang, agonizing and fear, two strangely marvelous and marvelously strange events occurred.

First, because kindness and generosity are always a marvel, a gift never to be underestimated or ignored, my kind readers have rallied around — along with my oldest and best-loved friends — to make me remember that there is always a reason to go on with life.

To accentuate the amazingness, rediscovering how people you’ve met through an electronic, completely magical medium, can show they care, are real people, even though they are too far to come and personally offer a hug … I tipped over the big 500 number and stand at 502 WordPress followers.

That’s amazing. Hard to believe it’s real. More than 500 people like my pictures and my writing — and me — enough to subscribe to this little blog. It’s awesome, marvelous, and strangely wonderful!

I hope the months to come won’t take me away from this remarkable connection to so many people I have come to cherish as a virtual family. I know there will be a break at some point, at least for a while — but I hope it won’t be for too long … and won’t happen for a while yet.

There’s a third thing. It may not sound so marvelous but it means more than I have words to say. A simple thing … a bouquet of flowers from my husband. Bright and shining on top of the cold woodstove on the fireplace mantel. Reminding me that I am, despite how crazy, broken and difficult I am, I am nonetheless loved.

Thank you. All of you. From the bottom of my imperfect heart.

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FORTHEPROMPTLESS – KUMMERSPECK: Me and the Fat Lady

I originally wrote this six years ago. I’ve rewritten it many times since. Some day, I’ll get it right. It does seem appropriate for this topic. The deeper meaning, such as it is, is obvious: all us are haunted by someone or something, an evil shadow of what we were and never want to be again.

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Twelve years ago, I lost 160 pounds, an entire full-grown person. I have gained some during the past two years as a side effect of anti-hormone therapy following breast cancer, but I’m still more than 100 pounds less than I was before the story began.

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Every since the initial weight loss, there has been a Fat Lady following me. She is me, or more accurately, she is the me I used to be. She is invisible to everyone else, but I can see and hear her clearly. She waddles after me wherever I go. She talks to me, nags me, teases me. She sits with me at meals, whispering in my ear. She’s my co-pilot while I drive. Worst of all, she goes shopping with me.

While I try to decide whether or not to buy the size that looks great and fits just right … or play it safe and get the bigger size … she is there taunting me. This is probably why I have a half closet of clothing that’s too big. Always is the terrible whispering voice of the Fat Lady saying: “Yes, but what if you gain weight … what if you need bigger sizes? What will you do with this little stuff?”

The Fat Lady never shuts up. “You know, your feet might swell. You’ll never fit into those narrow little shoes.” Panic. What if my feet really DO swell? It hasn’t happened in more than 10 years, but still I expect it any day.

What if this is all some kind of weird dream? If suddenly I wake to discover I’m big? Every time I try on a garment, that Fat Lady is there, doing commentary.

Ah! The terror and triumph of shopping; the sheer exhilaration of sliding comfortably into skinny jeans … until the Fat Lady says. “You’ll never get into those pants.”.

“I am wearing them,” you point out.

“So,” she says, “what about tomorrow, eh? You could gain more weight. They might not fit tomorrow. Then what’ll you do? All you have is LITTLE clothing.”

“I’m going to stay little,” you reply, trying to hold firm.

“SURE you are,” she says. “Just like all those other times before …”

There’s no getting away from her. I have to run to the bathroom scale to confirm that I am not, in fact, fat. I stand in front of the mirror and stare at this body looking for signs of creeping obesity. I press my hands hard against my belly.

My belly is flat. Although I’m not longer all bone, I’m normal. Not bad at all for a gal of my age with a lot of miles on her. Perky breasts, too, since the nasty ones with the cancer were replaced with firm, youthful silicon implants.

I can feel the Fat Lady breathing in my ear. “See that flab?” she mocks. “That’s your old fat self. It’s just waiting for you.”

“It’s loose skin from all the surgeries.”

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“Hah,” she says. “We both know better, don’t we.”

I have a theory about fat. It’s connected with the concept in physics that matter and energy is interchangeable and that the actual amount of matter and energy in the universe never changes. It just converts back and forth from energy to matter and around and around.

I lost 160 pounds.

That fat went somewhere. It’s in the ether waiting.

My lost fat transformed into a Fat Energy Field. Not only my fat, but all the fat anyone ever lost is hanging in the atmosphere, huge, amorphous, invisible … waiting for some unsuspecting person to cross its path. Then … WHAPPO ZAPPO. The Fat Energy Field transforms back into Fat Matter. Hips become huge, bellies grow pendulous and thighs and buttocks fill with blubber.

How many times have you … or someone you know said “I don’t know what happened. All of a sudden, I just put on 40 pounds. I don’t understand. I didn’t eat more than usual. It just happened.”

That poor soul intersected with a Fat Energy Field. It could be his or her very OWN Fat Energy Field, if he or she recently lost weight, or it could be mine or someone else’s.
So after all is said and done, it really isn’t your fault when you gain weight. You were engulfed in a Fat Energy Field.

All of which brings me back to my shadow, the Fat Lady. She is me, but she isn’t either. She is my shadow, a demon-self sent to discourage and frighten me. Somewhere, deep in my psyche, I know her. Me as my Fat Lady was comfortable and safe in those folds of fat. I sent her away but she wants to come home so she won’t have to remain amorphous, without a true body.

The Fat Lady wants my body back.

I spend a lot of time looking in mirrors. Vanity? No. I look in mirrors for reassurance. I have to keep checking to make sure that I am the “now” me, not the “old” version. I check that mirrored image for signs of bloat, for hints I will be who I was and who I do not wish to be ever again.

There was a movie called “Charly” that starred Cliff Robertson and Claire Bloom, based on a short story called “Flowers for Algernon” written by Daniel Keyes.

Released in 1968, it told the story of Charly, a retarded adult transformed by a miracle of medicine into a brilliant scientist  but ultimately, the miracle fails and he returns to his former state of retarded man-child. He knows, before it happens, that it will happen.

How terrifying must that be? How terrified am I? (Note: These days I have lots of stuff to be scared of and regaining lost weight has dropped from my number 1 fear to around number 4 … but it’s still way up there on the worry chart.)

I feel his fear, the gnawing anxiety that he would have felt knowing he would lose all that he had gained. I live with that fright. I am scared to eat, even when I’m hungry. I’m afraid to buy clothing that really fits because I may not fit into it tomorrow morning or even later today.

Life in a new body is a daily adrenaline rush of mixed joy and panic, an endless roller coaster ride that CYCLONE-ahauls me up then drops me in a screaming rush then whips me around a curve only to drag me up again.

Fortunately, I love roller coasters, the bigger, faster and scarier, the better. If you are going to completely alter your physical self, you need to like living on the edge because you are on it for life. That roller coaster becomes life.

Life is to be lived and excitement, change, and danger make life interesting. We take risks because we want our lives to be edgy. We deny it, claim all we want peace, but we don’t really seek peace. We are ambivalent, wanting safety yet craving excitement.

They say that you stay young by constantly learning. I think you stay young by continuing to take risks. It may not always be smart, but sometimes, smart isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be.

FORTHEPROMPTLESS – AMPHIGORY: The Walrus and the Carpenter

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FORTHEPROMPTLESS: AMPHIGORY – Macavity: The Mystery Cat, T.S. Eliot

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L’appel du vide: The Biggest OOPS

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Maybe it’s stretching a point … maybe not. On a physical level, I have never had any kind of urge to walk through the fire or off the cliff. But that’s on the physical plane. My suicidal urges have been less tactile, more psychological, social, personal.

About my second marriage, the one I don’t talk about. I married a man blatantly wrong for me. As inappropriate, abusive, unintelligent and uneducated as anyone could be. That’s what happens when you marry on the rebound. In a foreign country. When you don’t speak the language and you’re lonely. Like the edge of the cliff or the fire, I knew with certainty before the wedding I shouldn’t do it. Bad idea. Big mistake. Why, then, did I?

Hormones? Hubris? Maybe because it was so wrong and such a terrible idea? Did I need to test the depth of the water or the heat of the fire? How long the fall down the mountain? Whatever it was, it cost me.

My mother met him shortly after the deed was done. She looked at me, sadly. “You’ve really done it now.” Cryptic though her words were, I knew what she meant. Knowing didn’t help. I had indeed done it. L’appel du vide describes it as well as anything. It took eleven long years to undo what had been so quickly accomplished. It was a learning experience. Not in a good way. Catastrophic stupidity on my part.

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There are many ways to achieve self-annihilation. A long walk off a short pier is less painful and more efficient. I recommend to anyone inclined to doing something highly self-destructive — take the short route, not the long and winding road.

Retrocausality: All You Zombies, Robert Heinlein

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Time travel makes my brain go “eek.” This is not a criticism. It’s a compliment. Not many things make my brain do back flips and somersaults. Time travel is an impossible concept I cannot understand because it is inherently incomprehensible. Therefore, I love it.

One story by Robert Heinlein which I read long decades ago in a compilation of his classic short stories remains on the top of the heap of such tales. It took me a while to find it. It is called “All You Zombies.”

In this strange endless and infinite loop, a baby girl is mysteriously dropped off at an orphanage in Cleveland in 1945. “Jane” grows up lonely and dejected, not knowing who her parents are, until one day in 1963 she is strangely attracted to a drifter. She has a brief passionate relationship with him and becomes pregnant.

The stranger disappears. During a weird and complicated birthing, Jane’s doctors discover she actually has two complete sets of sex organs. With her life on the line, the doctors change her from female to male. Jane is now a man.

And then …. a mysterious stranger kidnaps her baby. Jane is a man and childless. Depressed, lost, he becomes a drunk and a drifter and eventually, meets a young woman in a bar, who he makes pregnant during a brief affair. It gets even more complicated with the involvement of the Time Corps and a bartender all moving forward and backward in time. Find it, read it, and get your own brain in a twist!

Suffice to say that all the characters are one. The story is a paradox, completely impossible yet so logical you can neither reject nor accept it. And, my brain goes “Eek!!” Jane is everyone and everyone is Jane. She is her complete family: tree, trunk, branches, roots. I found this amazing diagram of the story. I do not know where it originated and I would love to credit whoever drew it in the first place.

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The logic combined with the impossibility of the sequence where the same person is mother, father and child forever living in an infinite loop — the snake eating its tail — is delicious and mind-blowing.

You can get it for your Kindle from Amazon for $1.25 right now, click here. OR … probably you can find it as part of an anthology of Heinlein short stories, but I don’t know exactly which anthology. I’m sure you can find it somewhere, though. It’s a classic and if you read it, you will not forget it. I promise.

I have read many hundreds of time travel books and stories over more than 50 years of loving science fiction. But this one, this  particular story, has stuck fast in my brain as probably the most perfect paradox as the past, present and future all roll in on themselves.

For The Promptless – DIY: So, you made that yourself?

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This will have to be a quickie since I have to finish my coffee — which I didn’t make myself, it being a task my kind husband has taken over — and get to a doctor by 9 am and it’s already 7:30. I really should stop reading until 3 in the morning. It’s ruining my early morning cheery face.

Back when the world and  I were young, I thought I should make my own clothing. My mother had made all my clothing when I was a child. She continued to make almost all her own stuff. Now that I was an adult with a full-time job and a toddler, she would occasionally — if I begged and pleaded — make something for me. Things I wanted but couldn’t find in the store, or afford even if I found them.

I yearned to go back to the days when she made my clothing. I hadn’t begun to appreciate the gorgeous outfits she created, how beautifully they fitted and how special they were. Then all I had wanted was to look like everyone else. Kids are dumb that way. I was as dumb as everyone. Maybe dumber.

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I figured “how hard can it be?” I got a second-hand sewing machine, bought a few patterns, even took a class in sewing. Acquired some fabric, zippers, buttons, threads and all the little widgety doodads that sewing requires — there were a lot more than I imagined possible — and made myself some spiffy new outfits. I was thrilled at how much clothing I could make for a pittance … especially compared to buying it at Macy’s.

People stared at my clothing. Admiration, I thought. They must be impressed. I was right.

Long pause. “You made that yourself, did you?”

“How did you know?”

“Just a lucky guess.”

It turns out that you have to set both sleeves the same way so one isn’t puffy while the other flat. Then there’s pattern matching. Oh, and buttons. They are supposed to line up. Zippers are not supposed to stick out and be all bunchy and also, they are supposed to close so that both parts of the closure are level when zipped. Details, details. And about those hems? One length all around. And those pesky collars. I hated collars. Even is the word in making clothing. Both sides should be pretty much the same, unless you are oddly shaped or are making a costume for a party and want to look weird.

I took a second course in tailoring, but that didn’t go nearly as well as sewing had. You had to use padding and stuff that makes fabric stiffer to hold its shape and I was never patient enough to get it right.

I quietly gave up making my own clothing and returned to holding my little plastic card and yelling “CHARGE!” as I went into the mall. The sewing machine grew dusty. It is still gathering dust in my dining room lo these many long years later. It’s all closed now. But not wasted. It’s a lovely spare table on which to display dolls. I collect dolls. And no, I do not make their clothing.

I do many things myself. I get up and out of bed by myself. Every day, nearly, except once in a while when I need a little help. I wash dishes. I write, edit, take pictures, process photos. I pass out treats to dogs, lend money to my granddaughter. Manage the family’s so-to-speak finances.

singer sewer 2

Take more pictures. Water plants. Maintain this blog.

That’s pretty good, isn’t it? All by myself I mean?

Oh, and I fix the computers, install software and if you need anyone to explain how to use it? I’m your gal. Does anyone need an older, but barely used sewing machine?