Friday, June 18, 2010


My Dad’s Studebaker. That was the first car I remember. We’d moved to the New Jersey suburbs from Staten Island so Mom had to learn to drive. She did pretty well, too. (We had to go on the lessons when they couldn’t find someone to watch us.) The Studebaker was green and not very big. We were a family of five then.

When my youngest brother showed up we got a Chevy station wagon. Two-tone blue and white. It seems to me it was only a little while before our next door neighbors got a much fancier station wagon with a removable third seat in the back instead of the plain space we had. I was old enough by then to understand our wagon had been eclipsed.

About the same time we moved to a bigger house, because we needed another bedroom (because I was a girl and the other three kids were boys) and a second bathroom, if at all possible, Dad came home with a tan Chevy Impala. Sleek. And then, amazingly, he bought a Kharmen Ghia! Mom and Dad needed two cars by then, because even though Dad car-pooled to the city, Mom had a hard time on Dad’s day to drive because there was a lot going on by then. We were a busy family, although not nearly as busy as families of six tend to be now. Jeez Louise!

The gods were smiling on my next-oldest brother and I, because we each had a senior year in high school when we got to drive the Ghia to school. This gave me many cool points that I’d been sorely lacking because I was a ballet dancer and no one at Ramsey High cared about that. Peter was okay even without the Ghia, but it didn’t hurt. There were other family cars after that, but they weren’t important to me because I was in college and then on my own.

It was six years before I had to have a car. I moved from New York City to Albuquerque, you see, and of course, a car was a necessary part of life.

So, my family was addicted to oil, from the get-go I guess. Well, no guessing about it-we were. I’m sorry, pelicans and turtles and everyone else, but that’s how it was. I live on the Florida panhandle. In this town pretty much everyone has a car. When you see adults walking or riding bikes, it’s a sure shot they’ve lost their license for driving drunk. Not a damn thing to do with saving the environment. It’s a mess, isn’t it?

Saturday, June 05, 2010

"Sore must be the storm"

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

Emily Dickinson

The corners of my mouth have turned down, there’s a slow burn in my throat, my shoulders have crept up and I wish I had a giant foot to stamp. All this has been going on since yesterday morning when I saw a photo of a pelican, sitting still, soaked in oil.

I felt better for some time in the late afternoon, when, returning from getting-the-mail-walking-my-dog, I found a Fed Ex box on my front porch. I’m glad I’m still thrilled by the sight of a package sent by someone I like. I hope I feel this way about presents as long as I last. Turns out I got fine gifts. He sent me a paper collage of wonderland, I think, beautifully framed and ready to hang. Taped to it was a Templar Cross, just the right size, on a silver chain. There was a magnifying glass in a black leather case, too, because thousands of bits of paper, most of them tiny, are in the picture.

I had a happy hour or so, then, as I do way too often, I checked my home page on the Net. One of the news feeds about the Gulf of Mexico, and its death, began with another picture. In it a pelican was trying to fly with ragged, heavy wings. The poor bird looked terrified. There was a link for more pictures by the photographer, Charlie Riedel.

How dare they? Or we? Do I have to hate myself, too, for a part in this monstrous insult? I can tell you with certainty, that never in my life have I wanted to move safely stashed oil from one place to another, more useful, place. I had a thin understanding that people were doing this thing, but I suppose I trusted that they knew what they were about. Horrible as the Alaskan spill was, a drunk captained that tanker. Exxon had a huge Human Resources lapse with that one.

So. My paper collage, its exquisite goodness, the cross, and the glass helped to soften the hard lumps in my throat and chest, but frustrated anger is brutal and its been holding on to me tightly. I don’t feel up to dealing with these physical symptoms of rage today. I have things to do, but I can't get going. Yoga would help, and I’m sure yoga practice won’t hurt the planet. Well, I do it with a DVD and that takes electricity, energy, all that. What doesn't?

I’ll stay home today. At least I won’t drive.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The Friendly Waitress

On my two-top young lovers gaze
at each other and talk, plan, share
her linguini, his prime rib. He butters
her bread and she murmurs, purrs.
Businessmen on per diems
pay for crass stares at my legs,
chest, hips with twenty percent tips.

Our king, the chef, rules his steamy
realm with steely eyes, paces his rum.
Later he’ll grow moist, maudlin, desperate.
The sous chef flirts, quips, chops and slices.
From behind the pastries, the old Greek
grumbles at the girls who pick up
meringues, tarts, and layer cakes.
The dishwashers talk broken-English
trash as they scrape plates-
not the paper-pale junkie.
His silence is frantic.

I hoist my tray with six covered dishes.
Never mind my bad back, no time.
At the big table a toddler’s made
an applesauce mess. His cool,
spotless mother requires my help.
Two more years and I’ll be a nurse.
With a gracious smile, I’ll dispense
pain pills a half-hour late