“Molly is like that early morning walker you see and always mean to talk to. When you finally do, you wonder what took you so long.”
Alexandra, GDRPempress BlogHer '11 Voice Of the Year for Humor. Good Day, Regular People. 

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MARA COOPER KNOWS NOT HER POWER

I began my writing career with “flash fiction,” which is defined as very short stories. I self-published a book of flash, Characters in Search of a Novel, which is still and always available on Amazon. Although I went on to write novels (my second, Crossing the Street, is available for preorder on Amazon, published by The Story Plant), I still love to write flash fiction. I can’t seem to stop! I publish these on Medium, a website for writers and readers, and I write there for Literati Magazine. Here is one of my latest, which, of course, I also illustrate!

MARA COOPER KNOWS NOT HER POWER

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I love her. Here are some of the things that I would do for Mara: I would eat sushi for her, even though the idea of raw fish makes my insides churn. I would have lunch for seven consecutive days with my Aunt Gert, and I would smile every time she told the same story about how hard she worked at the brassiere factory (why this would impress Mara is anyone’s guess, but I would do this just to suffer for Mara’s love). I would get a tattoo of Mara’s name in a secret place, so as not to embarrass her. I would kiss her after she eats garlic toast.

I would get her flowers every Friday and deliver them in person to her door. Ok, maybe I would have them delivered, because she might think I was a stalker otherwise. I would not buy her chocolates, because she does Paleo. I would look directly into her eyes and smile at her often, because women like men with confidence. I would never walk behind her, unless, of course, she wanted me to.

I would take her to the theatre to see depressing plays about people in crisis. I would sit through all the movies she likes about time travel. I would read all the Stephen King Dark Tower books, even though I think they are boring, because Mara carries one of them into work every day and reads it during break.

Mara loves soup. I know this, because she orders it in for lunch all the time. She eats it properly, with the spoon held parallel to her lips. I would do this, too. Mara has remarked that soup is all one needs for a perfect meal-soup and candle light. I would eat that hot, watery broth with a few leeks floating in it and declare myself sated. For her.

I would start jogging, because Mara has “running a marathon” on her bucket list. I would get those legging things, so that I would look good trying to keep up with Mara in her Lulumen-Lulomom-Lulubel (whatever they are) togs.

I would be patient but persistent. Not stalky or creepy. Just there for her. I would have a handkerchief ready for sad situations, and a pocket full of change for parking meters.

I would kill anybody who tried to hurt her. I would send her mother flowers on Mother’s Day. I stop smoking. I would grow a goatee. I would try to give up watching football. I would start wearing aftershave, but not Axe. I would learn how to tell jokes.

I would throw myself under a train for her.

I am not sure how to introduce myself. “Hi, I am Clayton. I have worked one cubicle over from you for a year.” That just doesn’t cut it. “Hey, Clayton here, you know — from accounting!” GOD, no. “Hey there! Clayton. I am only doing this job until I get out of law school.” (Better. Note to self: apply to law school). “Hi. I’m Clay.” Shit.

Damnation. Here she comes. I got nada.

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PEEVISH

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Winter evenings and television go hand in hand. We cook dinner side by side (that’s another post, altogether!), eat by candle light in the kitchen, and then go to watch a show. We don’t watch American network television, because we are snobs. We like British television. The reasons are obvious: tea, gorgeous countrysides, thatched roofs, tea, vicars, tea, good manners, lovely accents (which would you rather have, a SEC re tary, or a sec re TREE?), scones, murders committed by the person whom you would never in a million years suspect, tea, and John Nettles?

But I get annoyed even at the British shows. They need to pay more attention to actual people. I hate the scenes in which someone is served a meal that looks delicious. But then the phone rings, and nary a bite is taken before the person holding the fork drops it and rushes off to visit a crime scene or discover that their mate is having an affair.  The director should show at least four bites and some conversation first! Oh, and another thing? Who loses their appetite when someone annoys them? Just because Clive told Aunt Reticule that you are insufferable during Whist, is that any reason at all to suddenly turn away from your plate of roast lamb, mashed potatoes and peas that look absolutely delectable to me sitting in my TV room with a plate of Triscuits and processed American cheese food? It’s infuriating.

Doors. In England, even now, every door to every room is decidedly SHUT after people enter. This must be a holdover from the days when there was no central heating, but my heavens, if I lived in a house full of shut-off rooms, I would begin to feel just a bit claustrophobic.

The Eureka moment. Every police detective (we call them DCI’s) has that moment of clarity when all the pieces of the case fall together. But it is so predictable! DCI Sobritish is sipping his pint, when he suddenly looks at the woman with a red handbag talking on her cell phone and EUREKA! He realizes that the murderer is the woman who sells counterfeit accessories at the stalls on Fridays! Or the cleaning woman swings her mop and sprays suds all over the flagstones, and EUREKA! DCI Madge Toothbritish puts the pieces together that the victim was not murdered at all, but merely slipped on the wet stones! The dead woman was the murderer! Of  a minor cast member of the drama. How could we not have seen this coming? Frankly, I think these Eureka moments are overrated, but I understand we have to keep the plot moving. There must be a more creative way to do this, right?

Water. Whenever there is a crisis, somebody is ordered to give the nervous or traumatized person a glass of water. But have you ever witnessed a thirsty person during an emergency?.“Oh my God is that a dead body in the front yard? Quick, somebody–get me a drink of water!” 

And finally, my most peevish of peeves. Why is it that when a person is in the hospital in a British drama, they inevitably are given grapes by visitors? Is this an unwritten hospital rule? They don’t get grapes on Grey”s Anatomy (ok, I do watch a little American TV). And nobody who gets the grapes ever so much as looks at them, tastes one, or seems at all happy to get them. So why on earth do people continue to bring grapes to sick British characters?

By the way, this is a rhetorical question…

 

 

 

 

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SHALL WE STAY OR SHALL WE GO?

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My husband and I are getting older. Many of our friends are putting their houses on the market and moving to urban condos and lofts. Great views of city lights, and maybe even a terrace.

This all sounds tempting, as I have always harbored an urban fantasy and envisioned myself living in a cozy apartment in Chelsea or someplace equally trendy like the Village in New York. I have insomnia, and so I spend many happy hours in bed in the deep, dark night, picturing the perfect place.

My new York apartment would not be big. It would be just right: two bedrooms, one with a fireplace that works. A living room, also with a fireplace. At least one brick wall. I would put a small, round dining table at the end of the room, next to the bricks. It would look out through French doors to the terrace.

The terrace would be very important. I have to admit that I am so not an outdoor person. I have a lovely deck attached to the back of my Dayton  house, and although every year I have a landscaper decorate it with gorgeous plants and window boxes, I never go out there to sit–mosquitos and flies. And the beating sun. However, I tell myself that my New York terrace would be different, and I would go out there all the time. The terrace would have a lovely brick floor, There would be a high enough wall so that my cats would not escape, but the top of the wall would have decorative, antique wrought-iron trim, so that the view would not be hampered. I would have trees in pots, lush ivy growing up the wall, and a little spot of grass, just in case I decided to get a dog. A striped awning. I would drink coffee out there and deadhead my petunias in the summer. The table and chairs would be aged teak.

Inside, I would have a lot of books, a tiny kitchen with an oval window over the sink,  so  I could look out at the twinkling city lights as I washed my dishes by hand. I would like doing that in my apartment. There would be two bathrooms, both with antique pedestal sinks and black and white tile floors. There would be deep linen cupboards.

Of course, my apartment would have decorative crown moldings and dark, battered oak floorboards. There would be Persian carpets and a Boston Fern that would never drop one leaf, ever. All the chairs and sofas would be comfortable. I would paint the walls a dark, jewel tone–maybe amethyst. I would have shimmering,  taupe silk curtains flowing at the windows and pooling onto the floor.

Yesterday, we took a drive through downtown Dayton to look at some of the beautiful old buildings that have been turned into lofts, along with the new residential condominium developments scattered around the downtown area. All looked so exciting. We discussed putting our house on the market and moving downtown.

After we got over our anxiety attacks, we drove home and swore that we wouldn’t leave this house until we are rolled out of here in wheelchairs.

 

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I OPENED THE WINDOW, AND IN FLUENZA

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This is me. I am wearing a mask, because fifty percent of the people in this ER are either almost dead, look like they are already dead, or they are coughing loudly. The other fifty percent drove them here.

I am with my daughter, who chose the week her husband was on a business trip to get sick. She is pale, wan, and dehydrated, but still manages to take four selfies.

I know we will be here for a long, long time. Long enough to revise my will. The word “triage” is bandied about at the front desk – in case somebody whose fever is under 102 gets any funny ideas about just how sick they are.

The woman next to us announces to no one in particular that “See, THIS is why they have flu shots, for God’s sake.”

Two people fall over. A roving nurse passes out hand sanitizer and little boxes of Kleenex. Too little, too late.

We finally get in. One bag of Lactated Ringers, coming right up. It takes exactly one hour, fifteen Tweets and three Facebook posts to empty that bag of fluids. We have been in the ER for four hours.

It helped. My daughter is feeling somewhat perky. There is a flush of pink coming into her cheeks. She smiles.

I, on the other hand, have just realized that by the time I drop her off at her house, the incubation period for something in the air tonight will have expired.

I am prepared to die.

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FASHION FORWARD

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This is my granddaughter, Birdie. She is the most beautiful thing.

Notice the headgear. I know it ages me, but all I can think of when I look at the myriad bows and flowers her mother joyfully places on her tiny noggin is HEDDA HOPPER. Hedda was known for her flamboyant hats, and it seems to me that all of this Hollywood frippery is coming back, HOORAY! And of course, Birdie is a tiny, Hollywood gal herself.

Here is how I imagine her when she is five. A bit scrawny, with scabs on both knees. A Band-Aid on her forehead from falling off her scooter. Running shoes. A popsicle in one hand, a ripped teddy bear in the other. A rather soiled tee shirt (the park, earlier in the day), and a tutu. She hates ballet, but loves the costumes.

At ten: Soccer shorts, a grass-stained jersey, shin guards, lime green sunglasses, and at least four white plastic barrettes holding down wild, sun-bleached curls. Nail polish, each nail a different color. A backpack with polka dots.

Aged sixteen. She is almost six feet tall, and her legs seem to begin just below her chin. She wears outlandish combinations of clothes that would look odd on other teens, but on her look like a trend just about to break. She never chews gum; it gives her hiccups. Perpetually tan, she keeps a surfboard in her closet and a bathing suit in her purse. She has very short hair, because she is always in the wind, it seems, and long hair is way too labor intensive. She hums to herself most of the time. She just got the leading role in her high school production of that old chestnut, LA LA Land.

Aged twenty. She looks like her mother. Fit. Tousled bronze hair, now brushing her shoulders. She smiles readily, and like her mom, her enthusiasm knows no bounds. She loves to run, and has a hard time sitting still. And behind her left ear, most days? A flower. She has a band, and Birdie is the lead singer. She plays the tambourine.

I hope I will still be around to admire her.

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