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.

Marilyn's Horoscope

“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

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?

Zeus and Leda?

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.

Mr. Coffee

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.

Me and Cherrie

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.