Category Archives: chaos

In Defense of Spirited Abandon and Cosmic Trust

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I live in an area close to Washington, D.C., however I spent my early youth, of which I recall a great deal, in Buffalo, NY.

We have received a fair amount of snow here, in the DC-burbs this winter. Nothing like 2010, however, and absolutely nothing like what the northeast has endured this winter as well.

I learned about a weather phenomenon, “the ice line” a few months ago. It’s aptly named. It’s what causes a shit ton of emotional and vehicular chaos in these parts whenever the air and surface temps drop below freezing but the substance falling from the clouds ain’t so sure it’s not in Florida. The result is ice. Sometimes it is ice covered by snow.

The issue is the unfortunate confluence of inexperienced drivers on ice and a southern state transportation department which has begrudgingly had to adapt to climate change.

Surely it snowed and was icy when George Washington was president, or before Vespucci found this continent. People, fauna, bears… They coped. They didn’t freak out, wring their dry hands and wonder about school closings, road conditions, Twitter updates and Brian Williams.

They just dealt. They looked outside their huts or caves, they said (in whatever language they uttered) “ok, different from yesterday. The elk skin will be most appropriate for the day along with those muskrat boots… and hand me my pashmina while you’re at it…”

Sometimes (most always) we know what we need to do. Most times, in an increasingly complicated (ĂĽber-connected) world, it just means we retreat, we go inside to our inner wisdom, and decide for ourselves. Put down the familiar bottle of chaos we subconsciously looooove to stir up and cool our jets. We simply let go, leave it all up to the Fates, God, the Universe, whatever it is which gets us through dinner, and deal, knowing 1) it’s out of our control and 2) it’s nothing to freak out about.

I’m suggesting we do that now. Just breathe, assess and deal; go with our thimble-sized needs and address them accordingly.

One breath at a time.

Thank you.

Friday #Fiction 2.1 — Dr. Dres and Door Jambs

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Luther held his hand out for the keys patiently waiting for his mother to calm down, assess the moment and come to her senses. She insisted on driving from their city house to Nantucket and after the ride he’d endured on the way from the Logan Airport, there was no way; he’d rather walk, despite the nagging pains in his legs.

Editorial note: this is seventh in a series about the relationship between Claire and Luther. Please start here: www.mollyfielddotcom.wordpress.com/2013/04/12/friday-fiction-2-0-beyond-the-edge

“You can’t just come here for a weekend, mister, and tell me what to do. Everyone is trying to control me. We will get there when we get there. And we certainly won’t get there any sooner if I don’t have my Matisse scarf you bought me from the MoMA. And my sunglasses, where are my sunglasses? Have you seen them? Did you check the stove? The iron. Check the iron. Make sure it’s unplugged. Don’t look at me like that, Luther,” his mother said in a lather over nothing, shoveling through papers on her desk, picking them up and reading them, laughing, tossing them and looking through some more.

“Mother, the keys?”

“Why can’t you just relax?! I am trying to get everything done here and no one helps me.”

“Mother. The house looks fine; the timers are all set. I just want to open the windows on the car. It’s sitting in the sun and we have a long ride ahead of us if we don’t get going now. Google Maps is already showing back ups on the Sagamore, so we need to sort of… y’know get mov–”

“I don’t care about any traffic! I don’t care about the god damned Sagamore bridge. I want my sunglasses and my scarf. Here! Here are the keys! Open the windows, move the car, put it in the shade, drive it out of here, go to the Island, I don’t care. I can’t find my book, either. The one about Belushi… do you remember watching SNL with me when you were in high school? “The Samurai Delicatessen”?”

Luther’s mother Moira hurled the keys at him; they careened through the butler’s pantry and knocked his sunglasses off his face. They skidded across the floor and rested against the door jamb leading into the dining room.

Calmly, Luther took in a deep breath, like he was drawing on a water pipe, and bent over to retrieve his sunglasses. “Thank you for the keys. I had my hand out in case you didn’t notice. I don’t appreciate –”

“What I don’t appreciate, LUTHER, is your insistence that we get going. RIGHT NOW. We have time. If you weren’t such a nag, such a pain in the ass, I wouldn’t have had to throw the keys at you. Find the dog; he’s here somewhere. Your precious father wants him on the Island with us. Have you seen my letter from the attorneys?”

“Mother, I just walked in the door with you. Ten minutes ago. And no, I don’t remember watching “Samurai Delicatessen” with you; that was before my time. I’ll be right back; I’m going to go call Skipper. I have no idea what you’re talking about with the lawyer letters. I can’t ….”

“What can you do?” she hissed.

Luther left the kitchen of the cavernous Victorian brownstone house in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. He didn’t bother with the car, he didn’t take the keys with him. He slumped through the dining room and into the front hall where one of Skipper’s beds lay empty. Skipper, like any other sentient being in that household knew that when Moira started up, the best thing to do was to hide.

He called for Skipper as he walked around the house. It had been about a year since his last visit; piles of clutter were assembling in odd places in the house. The closet where leashes, gloves and winter items were stored was becoming modestly overtaken with magazines, old mail, and catalogs. Luther moved a few paper bags worth of mail out of the way and took out two leashes: the leather one for walks and the grosgrain one for swimming. As fantastic a dog as Skipper was, he often got distracted and disoriented when in the water and sometimes it was hard to get him to come back.

Skipper must have heard the rustling of the leashes; his nails clicking along the ceramic floor heralded his approach. His shiny black hair and glistening mauve nose instantly had a soothing effect on Luther.

“Heyyyy bud-dy, hiya Skipps! Were you hiding? Werrrre yooooou hiiiiding when mommmy went nuts agaaaaaaainnnn? Hmmmmm? Buuuuuddddyyyyy…” Luther kneaded his hands in Skipper’s ample neck fur and scruffy chest cavity. “Oof. You need a bath, buddy. You wanna go car soon?”

As soon as Skipper heard the phrase, “You wanna [anything],” he started to prance and bounce off the tiles, his nails clicking and his tail wagging and contorting his body into the shape of a C with every paw tap on the floor.

Their reunion was brief. Luther’s cell phone vibrated in his pocket. It was Claire calling from work. With both curiosity and dread he considered his phone. It was after three in the afternoon; a call at this time of the day on a Friday could mean a crisis at work. Or it could mean a casual conversation with his office mate. He decided to take his chances and answer the call.

With one hand stroking Skipper’s supple and warm neck and the other swiping the phone to activate the call, he cleared his voice and said, “Yyyesssss? Luther the invincible here. What can I do you for, Clarice?”

“Oh, hey. Luther. What’s up?”

“Uhhh, nothing. You called me…. were you hoping for the voicemail?”

“MMno. No. I wasn’t,” she said. “Hi.”

“Sooooo… are you missing me? Do you need me to talk dirty to you? Are you all alone this weekend, Clarice? Can you hear the lambs?” Luther’s insistence on calling her “Clarice” at times, in reference to the Jodie Foster character in “Silence of the Lambs” agitated her; to Luther it was a compliment because he thought Jodie was hot and the mystery of her sexuality was even more of a turn-on for him; another bonus to him was that the Clarice Starling character was strong, smart and courageous.

“Don’t call me that, Luther. Look, I’m just calling because I noticed your Dr. Dres are here and I wanted you to know. I am happy to overnight them to you if you would like them. I know how you need them to aggressively promote your disinterest in those around you,” she said, her voice lilting and sad at the same time. She was standing in his cubicle, holding his headphones over an open FedEx box. “All I need is the shipping address and I can have them to you by morning.”

“Using company funds for personal gain?? Clarice, the Bureau would never stand for this. Thanks for the offer, Peaches, but I’m good. I have my ear buds. As soon as I got on the plane I put them on; there was this girl from a college volleyball team and she started talking and talking to me… it was at that moment that I wish I had my Dres, but, naw, I’m good here. I could use something else here though, if you wanted to overnight that…. ”

Claire smiled, and squinted her eyes but said nothing.

“You there? Clarice? Hello?”

“I’m here. So you put on your headphones in front of that girl? How rude of you. She was probably just your type. Athletic, obtuse and narcissi–”

“Hay! I resent that. No, she’s not my type, besides she’s gone. And she had hers on before I even could find mine; sadly. I’m like 50 years old to her as far as she’s concerned. I eventually found mine in my breast pocket. Listen, this is starting to go in a not fun direction. is there anything else you want? I’ve got to put out a Moira fire and Skipper here needs to tinkle and stretch his legs. Me too.”

“Moira fire? You’re on a cell phone, you can talk while you walk the dog…”

“Yes, I can do that, but I don’t want to expose you to my mother’s … mood … at the moment. Do you want to come to the bathroom with me?”

“No! Eww. No… I don’t. Listen, I just wanted you to know I submitted my creative for the Congratulations and Revenge mocks and pilots. Your not being here was … helpful. Have a good weekend. Bye, Luther.”

Before Luther could reply with a snarky comeback, the phone call ended. He glanced at the phone, shrugged his shoulders and said to Skipper, “Dames. This one’s a tough nut to crack.” The pair walked out the front door into the sunshine. Luther turned on his music and listened to “Drive By” by Train. An irrepressible smile came across his face when he heard

This is not a drive by,
Just a shy guy looking for a two ply
Hefty bag to hold my love
When you move me, everything is groovy,

Luther used that smile to get him through the ride over the backed-up Sagamore as the backs of his thighs stuck to the leather seats in the family land yacht.

He was driving, his hands were on the steering wheel, and his eyes were on the road. Skipper was in the back seat panting with excitement for he could smell the water and that water meant freedom and Luther and swimming. Moira didn’t argue with Luther about driving to the house; she was uncharacteristically docile and agreeable when he returned from his walk with the dog. She was asleep in the passenger seat, her head leaning against her yellow microbead travel pillow and her mouth wide open in the fading early summer sunlight and music from “Porgy and Bess” was softly playing in the background.

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(c) 2013 :: Molly Field

I wrote this in my car on my iPad (which I initially feared and hated when I got it for Christmas) on a trip to NYC for the weekend with the Things in the backseat and all manner of music from Pandora pouring from the speakers. If it stinks, that’s why. 🙂 I initially thought I wasn’t going to post at all, but I want to maintain my commitment to the my fiction friends.

Prompt: This week’s prompt (from the charming Clearly Kristal): If life gives you lemons, don’t settle for simply making lemonade – make a glorious scene at a lemonade stand.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

Your character was given lemons, now paint their amazing lemonade stand. Tell us the story of their darkness, their light. Write the story.

Please check out these other Friday Fiction Friends!

http://www.clearlykristal.com/?p=3862
http://www.worldsworstmoms.com/friday-fiction-part-19-overdone/?wprptest2=2

Tuesday Morning Press 25 — On Randomness

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Yesterday was awful for our country; the massive EF-4 tornado that ripped through Moore, Oklahoma, devastated, killed, flattened, destroyed and shattered lives, businesses, livelihoods, schools, churches and everything we hold most dear: emotional security.

At times like these, people want to blame someone, something: a policy, a procedure, a handbook, a code. They can’t.

This isn’t a hurricane we’re talking about; it’s a tornado. Tornadoes evaporate just as quickly and unreliably as they manifest.

Lots of questions that really have no answer abound: why were kids in school? Why weren’t people in basements? Why weren’t people sheltered?

The answer is simple and rational: you can’t prepare for a tornado. You. Just. Can’t.

You can wait in your basement, you can go to your safe room, but the point is: you don’t know where it will actually ever strike, nor do you know its intensity when it does strike.

During Hurricane Isabel, back in 2003 (I think), my neighbors had a large tree, about 60′ in height. We were mostly dealing with winds and rain. All of a sudden, I saw that tree not sway anymore, but twist from 40′ down and torque and fly into my yard and land on my kids’ playset. That wasn’t a hurricane wind shear, it was a microburst. I live in northern Virginia. Tornadoes don’t happen here very often. We get blistering heat, hurricanes, autumnal winds that will chap your face, and other acts of Mother Nature.

So to the people want to blame something. A government, Al Qaeda (just kidding), a policy… stop.

Sit with the discomfort of your inability to make sense of this.

There is no sense to be made.

We survive or we die.

This is life. It is precious. As random as things are and they TRULY are, you must embrace the fact that you have no control. The ONE THING WE CAN COUNT ON IS THIS: we will all die, at one time or another, usually without our consent or warning. There will likely be no need for a safe room or a tornado shelter; there will likely be no government policy that should have been in place to have prevented our death.

Life is precious, death is certain. Enjoy every moment you can, stop blaming policies or people or governments or weather systems… there is nothing that could have prevented anyone from perishing yesterday. Nothing.

Those massive tornadoes are often called the “Finger of God” and I can tell you this: it’s an apt description.

To anyone who wants to ask, “where was God when this happened?” I counter with: “Where was God when you were born? When you made it through a crisis, an addiction, a horror? Or cancer?” God was there. Just as He is when someone dies or suffers. Believe in Him or not, call it “Fate” or “Destiny” or the “Universe.” Call it whatever you want, but don’t make the mistake of trying to make sense of it. Don’t even think about talking about the environment right now. Don’t make me add you to the list of people who just need to shut the @(*& up right now. It’s not about you and your posturing.

If you pray, do. “Ora” as we say in Latin, pray. Worrying won’t help; it hinders. Donate funds to the American Red Cross:

This has been a major disaster, and the Red Cross will be there for the people in this state and this community. People who wish to make a donation can support American Red Cross Disaster Relief, which helps provide food, shelter and emotional support to those affected by disasters like the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma and Texas as well as disasters big and small throughout the United States by visiting redcross.org, dialing 1-800-REDCROSS or texting REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

My thoughts of compassion and sadness dart from the school to the homes to the pets to the kids to the businesses to the school… there is no rest from sadness of the story. There are many good points though — the stories we hear now, about the cleaning up and finding of survivors. We call them heroes, but they might shun that label; they are doing what any of us would. Despite all this sadness and destruction, it is the human spirit that leaves me awestruck and humbled.

As for your life as you have it: enjoy what you can, help those in need, be present and stop blaming. There is no one to blame.

Thank you.

This is How I Roll: Some Parents Need to Grow Up

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Look, I’m not going to sugar coat this: I’m grossed out by people who think it’s funny to have kids and then bitch about them, or habitually talk about needing booze, or a line, or a joint or a valium or whatever to get through the day.

It’s all over the Internet. Apparently it’s what sells. “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”- Henry Mencken. I prefer to not engage with the “foolish consistencies [which] are the hobgoblins of little minds.” -Emerson. I guess I will never hit it big. That’s OK, drunk people can’t read very well.

What those people need is a few moments alone and several deep breaths. That’s all. Oh, and likely therapy, which they are probably avoiding.

Ask anyone who knows me or who has interacted with me, and they will tell you, I’ve got a sense of humor, I am resilient, I can roll with punches. But just not this one. Not about parents who get their drink/joint/whatever on to cope with their holes, fears, inadequacy issues, mommy issues, daddy issues, shitty childhoods or whatever that are being activated by triggers that parenthood presents. I’m not talking anxiety, we all have that. I’m talking deep, real, soul-wrenching stuff. Oh, and regarding those who habitually make jokes about it? Grow up.

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So, here’s the deal: I grew up with crap like that happening to me. I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “You drive me to drink” as a kid. It’s sick as hell. Those days, and my decisions to talk about them are prickly. It’s partly my story to tell, in terms of how it affected me, but I can tell you this: if you need a drink, or think it’s funny to crack wise about being a mom or a dad who needs *needs* NEEDS something to “get through your day” I have a proposal for you: get fixed.

No, not with a shrink, that’s later, but tie your tubes, clip the lines, get your act together before you victimize your kids with your so-called, “I was just kidding” banter and jokes and Facebook groups and blog titles, and all that stuff. Because what you do to your kids, in the end, when they’re like me: 45 and wondering where the hell you were all their life, it’s not gonna be so funny then. You will be “Granny needs a drink” then. And that’s even sicker.

This is real. Kids are not saints, they are micro versions of me and you, and they have memories, and they have feelings and they have access to the Internet. If you find yourself turned off by their behavior, I have a suggestion: look around and look in the mirror. They learn from us, peers, teachers, siblings, but mostly from us, their parents, who appear godlike in their eyes. They believe everything we say, they don’t understand sarcasm until they’re about 15, despite our insistence that they get it beforehand. We are their go-to resource, unless we are half in the bag, spending the night at the office, on a little yellow pill, or pulling a toke.

But I’m just joking. Right? Because we all are. We’re all just trying to loosen up, have a little fun, don’t be such a stiff, Mol…

This isn’t our second shot at being in the cool group in high school or being popular with the pretty people. If you (like just about everyone) have some weird torch you’re holding for the glory days of your youth and you’re pinning your hopes on your kid to Make It this time… Wake up and smell the music. It’s pathetic. Get your act together and behave.

Maybe if you’re lucky, when you’re old and decrepit they will just feel sorry for you. Maybe if when they’re in a state where you will need them, when they have to take care of you, they will do the right, honorable and human thing: respect you and help you age and eventually die well. Or maybe they’ll get drunk and make jokes about it. You know, because it’s all in good fun, right?, crapping on the concept of being there for people who need our help. Or maybe they won’t resent the hell out of you for putting yourself first all. the. time. Or maybe they will do their best, numbly go through the motions, but be unable to give back what wasn’t given to them.

As a parent, I’m all for cutting loose and having fun, but not as a brand, not as an identity, and certainly not as a thematic function for who I am. Life’s hard enough sober and single. Marriage adds a whole new dimension. And then kids?! Innocent people who are legitimately needy and completely dependent on us for everything until they aren’t anymore?! Holy cow… I can’t imagine life drunk and with kids. And I certainly can’t imagine it being clever or glib or witty to make jokes about needing a mind-numbing substance to get through the day.

I can’t stand that stuff, it makes my blood boil. I have moments, trust me, of when I wish I could run away, or of when I wish I could be more resilient, more aloof, but no… This is life. When you get it on and make a baby, it’s not only all about you anymore. It’s about doing your best, everyday showing up mentally and physically and doing two very simple things on paper, but hard as hell to practice at times: love them with all your might and protect them. Love and protect. That’s all.

Therapy is cheap compared to how our glibness affects our children.

I’m dealing with my own set of challenges: I’m the PB&J in my family sandwich. My parents are getting reeeeally old and my kids are almost all teenagers. I will need every ounce of presence and sanity to navigate these waters. I could do the easy thing, do what my parents did: get drunk and avoid my responsibilities, but that’s not who I am.

If I’ve pissed you off, it’s okay. We aren’t right for each other. Just being real.

Thank you.