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Los Angeles, California
I am 47 and thriving in Southern California. One day at a time.
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Friday, August 9, 2013

honorable - did i forget to - mention?

Scroll down to read my piece that received an "honorable mention". A collection of blogs from last year - edited and presented experimentally. I am in the "Creative Non-Fiction" category.

Share my excitement!

[The format is a little funky...]

We are pleased to announce the New Millennium Awards for Poetry in our 35th competition.
The deadline in our current contest is Midnight, June 17. This deadline may be extended once only. See details below or enter online at www.newmillenniumwritings.com or www.writingawards.com
Susan Maeder of Mendocino, CA, has won The New Millennium Prize for Poetry, for "Out of Blue," a wrenching imagining of Joan of Arc's first tastes of war. Maeder's attempt to release Joan from her martial context is a triumph, and we are proud to publish this "new take on an old legend."
As previously reported,
H. Boris Timberg of Hatboro, PA, won The New Millennium Prize for Nonfiction, for “Ladders.” This powerful story, with its gritty realism alongside portrayals of sweet family moments, never shrinks from the heartaches and challenges that accompany our closest relationships. We are honored to publish it. This was one of our most competitive contests, and those winning Honorable Mentions, listed below, should be proud. 

Dan Gemmer of Millersburg, PA, won The New Millennium Prize for Short-Short Fiction, for “Sorter,” his story of a medic station in war time. This powerful story, with its bold and vibrant imagery and compelling sense of place, reveals a dark aspect of our nation's presence around the world, tempered with a tone of compassion and empathy.
Watch for our Fiction and Poetry winners to be named in the next two weeks. All winning entries and selected finalists will appear in the 2014 issue of New Millennium Writings, due out next February, and also at www.newmillenniumwritings.com.
Honorable Mentions for Poetry
JoAnn Balingit, Newark, DE
Michelle Bonczek, Syracuse, NY
George Clark, Valparaiso, IN
Janet Foster, San Diego, CA
Linda Nemec Foster, Grand Rapids, MI
Benjamin Goldberg, Waldorf, MD
Janlori Goldman, Accord, NY
Emily Hipchen, Carrollton, GA
James Hudson, Augusta, GA
Marilyn Johnston, Bloomfield, CT
Mary Emma Koles, Arlington, VA
Eileen Malone, Daly City, CA
Barbara Mossberg, Pasadena, CA
Lisa Mullenneaux, NY, NY
Veronica Patterson, Loveland, CO
Elizabeth Porter, Tucson, AZ
Susanna Rich, Blairstown, NJ
David Sloan, Brunswick, ME
Shelby Thomas, Rockport, ME
Nura Yingling, Charlottesville, VA
Honorable Mentions for Nonfiction
Jacob Appel, NYC, NY
Erin Byrne, Auburn, WA
Stephanie Cassatly, Jupiter, FL
Leonora Desar, NYC, NY
Jocelyn Edelstein, Portland, OR
Janet Falvey, Green Cove Springs, FL
Carla Feinstein, Portland, OR
Harrison Fletcher, Richmond, VA
Amy Friedman, Los Angeles, CA
Mary Howes, Dover, MA
Phillip Hurst, Lanai City, HI
Henriette Ivanans, Sunland, CA
Gabrielle Kopelman, NYC, NY
Marina Petrova, NYC, NY
Frank Pettinelli, Cary, NC
Elizabeth Porter, Tucson, AZ
Charyti Reiter, Cambridge, MA
Keith Skinner, Berkeley, CA
Pierrette Stukes, West Jefferson, NC
Cindy Zelman, Stoughton, MA
Honorable Mentions for Short Short Fiction
Margo Barnes, Tucson, AZ
Shannon Beamon, Moyock, NC
Elizabeth Brown, Tucson, AZ
Gayla Chaney, Temple, TX
Jamal Ebrahim, Chateauguay, QC
Laura Edwards, Saxonburg, PA
Heath Fisher, Kansas City, MO
Benjamin Goldberg, Waldorf, MD
Andrea Ivan, Greenfield Park, QC
Lisa Lebduska, Salem, CT
James Lynn, Kent, WA
Ola Madhour, Fribourg, Switzerland
Leslie Munnelly, Nantucket, MA
Katrin Redfern, Brooklyn, NY
Kathryn Shaver, Louisville, KY
Zachary Slings, Blauvelt, NY
Claude Smith, Madison, WI
Alexandra Stang, Pittsburgh, PA
Michelle Walker, Graham, NC
Scott Winkler, Casco, WI
Our current contest deadline is midnight June. 17.
Visit www.newmillenniumwritings.com for user-friendly guidelines and much more,
 or jump straight to www.writingawards.com and employ our simple submissions process.
No restrictions as to style, content or number of submissions. Enter as often as you like.
Winners announced beginning in September.
All contestants will receive our high-quality 2014 anthology.
Winners of NMW Awards are showcased along with celebrated writers, past and present, such as Pamela Uschuk, J. D. Salinger, Julia Glass, Shel Silverstein, Khaled Hosseini, William Pitt Root, George Garrett, Ken Kesey, John Updike, Lee Smith, Cormac McCarthy, Lucille Clifton, Nikki Giovanni, William Burroughs, Shelby Foote, Paul West, Norman Mailer, Sharyn McCrumb, Allen Wier, William Kennedy and many others. 

To join NMW's online conversation, go to Facebook and “like” New Millennium Writings.

Here's my award-winning piece! ;-) 


february 12th, 2012

all apologies

they've been playing a lot of nirvana on terrestrial radio lately.

which is great, because i need all the nirvana i can get.

it was over 20 years ago that nirvana was unleashed on the world in all its rock-righteous, unbathed glory, but they still sound as volume-cranking, adrenaline-swelling, fury-injecting fresh as ever.

yesterday, i began the hauntingly resonant chore of catching up on back taxes.

[last will and testament of 1978: 3 years of back taxes.]

but daddy’s little girl is here to finish ours.

and as i thumbed through endless papers, ragged like a gambler’s deck of cards, i listened to the receipts tell a copyrighted, bound and printed story that had never been issued.

first edition. published 2010. a year in the life of an addict.

in true golden state style, this girl was the healthiest, well-balanced addict; hitting up all 5 food groups as hard as she hit the bottle.

"cherry tomatoes, salmon,  1 L vodka..."
"avocado, tempeh, 1 L vodka..."
"cantaloupe, cottage cheese, 1 L vodka..."

but it wasn't those white light receipts that paper cut my heart. just a solitary piece of paper with two words:

"water. tums."

and the image of a man, with tired eyes and a mortgaged future, pulling into a parking lot; desperate for relief, desperate for release.

[if a paper's worth a thousand words.]

remorse, slather me thick, cake hard and heavy; sandbagged soul.

[i didn't know.]

hose me down, power wash me; filthy, four-legged, fuck-up.


squinting into the florescent backlight, she flinches at the pharmacy's mistake. 120 fioricet, not 60. ecstatic horror. she's drunk dialing her lover, deep fried in a guttural orgasm; pan seared in rapturous, rock star fantasies.

but for a few hours, i didn't have to be me.

follow the paper trail. who’d want my life?

oprah likes to starfuck this phrase to exhaustion, "my friend, maya angelou says, "when you know better, you do better.”".

[i didn't know.]

i don't care. you don't have to believe it's a disease. i know it is. relentlessly pinballing; silver slivers of sanity streaking away.

we're sick and we're selfish.

[now i know.]

"all in all is all we are…".

sorry, oprah. i prefer nirvana.

["and i swear that i don't have a gun…".]

kurt and i. we're all apologies.

march 29th,2012

d.d. and me

"is that for everyone?"

two circular confections stood, topped with numbers marking years so high in sobriety, that this 5 month-old newborn’ll be entrenched in medicare, or at least languishing,
with camille-esque intention, well into her third or fourth transplant.

it was her tone.

i could feel her desperation before i saw it.

her breath on my shoulder; moist with misery, landed hopeful like the morning mist.

there she stood. her eyes, pinballing wilder than her matted, two-toned, head-and-shoulders shock. the razored definition of, "the only the requirement for membership is the desire to stop drinking".

and into those benzo-ed baby-blues, i glimpsed october and stuck out my hand,

"hi. i'm henriette."

"hi. i'm d.d."

she didn't see the gentle irony in passing over coffee at an aa meeting, deeming it corrosive. no, she needed a "lemon lift", reaching for the tea with adolescent awkwardness; hormonal havoc. d.d was a study in unstep 1. with white, stained sweats stiff with stink; her posture loaded low, she commanded deep unrespect of the room. but, with a clacking domino of the heads and an embarrassing tsunami of "ssshhhh!"s, they drowned her boisterous boom.

[“you got me in trouble, henriette”, she wagged. i sighed.]

but, it was post-meeting that this june bug relinquished her black lacquered sheen, and splayed her soft, fleshy underbelly wide.

in her chemical haze, her words ricocheted faster than the pinball wizard in his prime. we were on the east coast with her asshole ex-husband and 9 year-old son. we were in india. we were in turkey. we were in south central. we were on skid row defecating in the middle of the street.

and deep into the sex, lies and rape, my heart slit wide; dripping sticky ache and pain. and like a filthy, buzzing fly, i was trapped onto the paper trail of evidence leading to conviction.

but for two choices, i am her.

but for one of mine.

but for one of his.

and so i did the only thing i could.

i gave her my phone number. and said to call me 24/7.

because the difference with d.d was one thing.

she had shown up.

our shackled hands steered her a handful of blocks to glendale hospital, then this phoneless? homeless? helpless? addict climbed out of our car, clasping two clear hospital bags of belongings and blistered my heart. with a profusion of thanks she headed towards the e.r., doubtless to stake another panic attack and claim its rewards. but, as i sighed into my seat, my husband finished my thought and handed me a bill.

"d. ddddddddd........", i screamed.

"did i forget something?".

and we came together like long lost friends.

"no. here." i breathed, holding out the $20.

"that's too much.", she breathed back.

"just try not to use with all of it…", realizing how ridiculous it sounded as it slipped my lips. "just try to eat something.".

"but, i'm fat", she quipped, sounding equally ridiculous.

and then her eyes glistened. not with pill-popped, popcorned insanity. not with lip-licking anticipation of her next high. but with gratitude. and love.

at least, i'm going to believe that.

april 14th, 2012

6 months

"at the golddigger - sorry"

if timing is everything, then irony's her bitch.

when's k's text came in from the infamous vegas nightclub, i was soaking peacefully in a tub, and just as serenely drinking in a tale of a saleswoman diluting her parents' liquor stash, from the big book’s , "crossing the river of denial".

[yup. even i'm raising a brow over this one.]

a far cry from the equally cinematic image of last october. girl gone wild-eyed. where hovering hazily below a watery line gone frighteningly still, was no cause for alarm. for her reason to surface, was always, to swallow more pills.

so when i thought about that night at the "golddigger", i flinched.

in bridget jones speak, this "married", rocketed on narco-holic fumes, soaring like a fully-charged "singleton". fueled by uniformed flirtations, rock-starry-eyed fantasies and unrequited experimentation, she flew higher and higher, crashing flat on the tarmac; drawn and gold-quartered.

so what do you do when you wake up 6 months sober? alone?

you let your dog wag her bum so hard she scares herself.

you let your sober sorority swaddle you in praise, pointers and pain.

you let yourself get mauled by a thai woman.

and you think. i can do this. i want this. i want to be healthy and free.

but you miss that first cold, crisp sip on an achy, baking day. beads of sweat, you swallow, dry. then wet and sharp. ah. then you're wine wine rafting on a river of chardonnay; buzzing, churning. hands-free flight. until the river bed dries up and what lies beneath is mouthwash and rubbing alcohol.

and you miss that barbituate buzz. when ms. migraine crashes the party, there's no-one like fiorinol. the perfect friend. she shows ms. migraine to the door, holding vigil all night long. and the next day. and the next. helping find words your thick, drunk tongue can pass off; helping stuff your undergarments in anticipation of the night's release.

and you really miss your daddy. the twinkled-toed, rugbied md. he loved pele, stamps and the beatles. and what you know about daddy is that he wrote "alcoholism" in his address book under "a", and never called. and he rotted into a shuffling, robed zombie who ended up where i was 6 months ago. in the hospital. then.

38 and dead.

[oh, wait. you don't believe this is a disease.]

but, i do.

because 6 months ago, i took 121 pills in 2 and a half days.

coming out of my thai massage, the owner gifted, "you look beautiful. you never change."

and i thought,

"oh, honey, you have no idea.”…

june 12th, 2012

separation anxiety

[ah, beware ye of little dysfunction.]

the addict and the codependent.

the prince, a not-so-charming-control-freak, and the princess-has-pea-ed-the-bed.

you sit there smugly behind the computer screen, anonymous, arms folded in self-righteous, knotted victory; finger taut, ready to delete; snap shut, shudder away my pain. ah. but, we were the chosen ones. news printed for all of toronto's morning glory; morning java. we were the mostlikelytorocket stars. and tonight i sleep in a stranger's bed. alone. trust me. it can happen to you.

the prodigal son's family feathers around him. and the hen feathers alone.

we are separated.

the transplanted, golden state couple. comely canucks en route-86'd.

now i chase pavements in mindless, maggie-less glendale.

suffering morning panic attacks, unflagellated by the serenity prayer, i back my mid-size rental out a rear driveway, an inch to spare on either side. sweetly soaked in deodorant-spray sweat, the technicolor town assaults circus bright, midway loud. it hammers heavily the obvious, nail-tearing truth.

four years, an auto-pilot passenger.

time to own the wheel.


the guy looks great on paper.

the hero who slayed quick the disease, delivering the ailing princess his bloodied kidney, glistening thick atop his sterling silver sword.

but here's the thing.

sometimes, an extended arm; an open palm works better than a razor sharp object being pointed directly at your face. from a horse.

and as for that piece of paper. there are two sides. and two stories.

his side. my side.

the story is 20 years old. and addiction is but one of a thousand of threads that must be untangled.

two hearts have been declared broken and the crazy glue's been doled out with strict instructions.

you fix YOU. and you fix YOU.

[and don't get any on your hands.]

i had a thought the other day.

i used to beg him, for hours and hours for my pills.

but i never once begged him for my kidney.

and here's another.

it was his choice to be there.

i swing wildly on this pendulum of recovery, back and forth between wild-child hysteria
and leaping to connect the dots from a to z. and there are moments like saturday night, when i just wanted to drink. period. but when i allow the gyrating, the jerking, to cease, i am momentarily cemented in gray; in blissful zenhen.

these moments are pulled tightly around my shoulders, thoughts like silken threads i can knit together with my furrowed brow; hot, syrupy sips that clear my thin and trembling voice.

i am hen.

but there's only one person in the world i want to share these revelations with.
and it's scream8timesaday, heartstrippingly, bendoverthesteeringwheelsobbingly surreal.


so for now, i do it on my own.

and so does he.



july 5th, 2012

yankee doodle danvian

i used to beat up little girls.

it was my first drug of choice.

how sexy is that?

yes, the little red haired girl would randomly prey on floral, frocked princesses; boldly, coldly pronouncing them targets for her simmering tidal rage.

"i'm going to fight you."

pummeling the stunned innocents with magnificent fury; unleashing the caged riot of parental anarchy burning her heart; her home to the ground.

unfortunately, generation z, bullying is not new to me.

this is my alcoholism.

[start me up.]

some progress rapidfirequick, and others, like a fine wino, progress into ocd, list-making obsession. then codeine addiction. and then obsess over the perfect fiorinol/chardonnay cocktail. and then they dissolve, delightfully into the sugar rush of the self-centered lollipop. obsessively, compulsively, fatally.

one lick, and you can't stop.

you are not weak.

you are not morally deficient.

you just can't slam on the brakes.

because you are smart.

you can whisper yourself out of a 51/50 at cedars-sinai. with breath so still you don't even know if you're alive. and you walk a quiet line between life and death, unmoving; uncaring. and the only sounds tethering you to terra firma are the ambien and xanax prescriptions rattling you away into discharge.

[90 mph.]

you are really smart.

you with your beady, greedy little eyes. with your scaly, skin-shedding ways. and that flickering fork of a tongue. with your poisonous prong, your cedars' social worker is obliterated, her cute, clueless attempts to sign off on your alcoholism are backhanded; swatted away like a pesky insect. next. with relentless arrogance, you convince the chief psychiatrist to amend that ridiculous drug and alcohol abstinence agreement.

["honestly, henriette, we've just never had anyone challenge this". next.]

[120 mph.]

and you glide [un]happily back under your rock, swilling beer and crushing xanax into your cracked molars while photographing your morphing kankles in various stages of
edema for your blog.

you are listed for a kidney.

you are dialysed.

you are transplanted.


but you are really fucking smart.

you can talk your way into an oxycodone prescription at the pain center. months after your donor abandoned his script of tylenol 3s into the ceramic ocean. you talk your way onto so many prescription pads, with your slick, pick up and "deliver me" system, escobar took notes from you.

"but it's for the "pain" in my scarsideeffectsheadheartyourfaultgodsfaulteveryoneelsesbutminefault..."

[160 mph.]

and you are wheeling.

out of control.

donutting in the parking lot. manically laughing, tears pooling into your lap.

fingers clenched so tight; so dry they would snap off, stick by stick were you able to unpeel your frozen fist and navigate this black ice.

but in a whiteout, you can't see a thing.

"how did i get here?!" should be a game show.

and we could all win prizes.

kinda like a reality show version of orwell's room 101. if you survive, you get a parting gift.

once in a while, this unemployeddisabledseparatedalcoholic will be sitting in a meeting and suddenly, i've been tossed into a box of tarantulas. they are everywhere. hissing, nipping, crawling. i open my eyes to glittering dark beads, peering. odorous pus, oozing. limbs strapping, entrapping me. coarse, angry fur rubbing me raw; bloody.

if i beat them off with a stick, i'll only get bit.

so the only way out is to jesus myself; four on the floor.

and i shift it into 1st and surrender.

i had this epiphanous moment the other day.

a woman shared about her childhood. about the chaos she grew up in. how she never knew how to feel. how she was always putting on an act.

["jazz hands".]

she actually did the fosse move.

and i thought back to my grade 3 project.

"what do you want to be when you grow up?"

and i wondered if i'd ever really wanted to be an actress. or if i had just scribbled down an answer to a question? a god in the image that this 8 year-old girl worshipped every friday night. actress-singer-dancer, marie osmond.

["i'm a little bit country..."]

dear god.

because now that i'm eightandahalf months sober, the breath of relief i sigh when realizing i never have to act again, fills me with air so clean i vibrate. icy shock, defibrillation.


the little red haired girl played two roles for too long. 

overprotective daughter. ferociously battling, baring teeth; all, for her embattled father; unknown peer.

and resentful child. "where's mummy?". longing for a mother who was responsibly absent. architect by default, building brick by agonizing brick, a house built for 4, in the end, fit only for 3.

sure. i have minutes when i want to flip back my fortysomething, silverstreaked, thin-wisped strands, run my fingers through my topomax-induced breakage, adjust my $5, l.a. county fair D and G knockoff sunglasses, load up, put pedal to the metal and plow through my feelings and into a 7-11 or some other franchise. and anyone who tells me they've got this thing called alcoholism licked, never mind "life", is a total douche.

[ahem. THIS is not serenity.]

so after throwing another charge on the card, my train left separation station and slowed in its tracks, dread in my tread, as i neared this week's rental.

C 45, C 46, C 47...

[say it isn't so.]

what i know from cars is nothing. but what i know from the 80's is everything.

there she stood, nay, screamed from her slot. beckoning to me from the annals of 1981. coated in the neon electric blue that swathed the eyelid of every lead singer of every r&b video ever to rotate on mtv. the seats, like slipping into madonna's "lucky star" fishnet top: cheap black polyester, with charlie-red sheen and bright red stitching. when i check for po-po, there's some kind of dolphin fin sculpture/wind deflection device on the back and the multiple, totally tubular, headlights/tail lights light up reminiscent of the bling of my barbie's 'vette.

[i have yet to pinpoint a demographic for this car.]

where, oh, where is my beige corolla? the bland beauty i revved to delicately navigate the los angeles labyrinth. dodging bullet trains, planes and automobiles, i hunched, skimming under the radar; skimming only the foam of driving delights...

[hmmm...the dodge "avenger"...]

so maybe my sponsor was on to something when she snorted, "you're supposed to learn something from this...!".

and maybe you're rolling you're eyes at the aa speak...

but there's no denying god has a sense of humor.

so maybe i do too...

[shut up and drive.]

august 15th, 2012

ladybug sings the blues

i had an uninvited guest last night.

during a very unsober 3 am moment.

rigid and wide-eyed, frantically backhanding my nostrils as they dripped with ferocious, farm animal intensity; snorting and snotting, huffing and puffing, blanket-mouth stuffing.

[10 months doesn't guarantee you shit.]

but there, through the mist of my tears; unxanaxed panic attack, like the literal parting of the red sea...

red wings, with delicately painted black dots.

she appeared boldly, in a flash of cherry-red through a sad, squinty blur.

blink once. twice.

she was tenacious. weaving through the spokes of my gargantuan white noise machine; the fan's soothing symphonic now whirring in discord with my heartfelt histrionics, our cacophony awakening glendale's undead.

but nothing. not the howling winds of fan; of hen would keep this steadfast mofo away.

up and down. up and down. up and down.

unburdened by her beautiful, lacquered layer, steadfast she wiggled those black, shiny legs, sheltering her soft underbelly; her toughest meat. her heart.

i was mesmerized.

["fuck you!"]

anger, fear and judgment pelts down on me like acid rain, stinging my skin, leaving comforting welts. beautiful bruises. this is the skin i remember. this is where i belong.

sick. diseased. useless.

unlike storms that break and clear sky, i collect on the ground, in filthy, muddied pools.
tremors trip my fall. i sweat. i shake. and shake some more.

in the inch deep water, i choke mud. it's cold, freezing. i shiver deep and long. fever.

i turn my head to the side and gasp.

there is no air. no fair.

["you were a fucking terrible wife!"]

i was.

i was.

[maybe it's not an excuse, but it's an explanation.]

in canada, if you find a ladybug overwintering in your garage it brings good luck.

it has been the longest winter.

with such black, navy blue nights, the stars frosted the sky silver when they went to sleep; blinding cold light.

with such icy, thin air, your insides scraped raw on the quickest of inhales; you barely breathed for almost five years.

with such black hearts; black iced, can a spring warm enough ever be sprung?

and then i saw her.

my plucky little friend.

crawling around next to the sleepily spilled coffee grounds.

then i remembered.
"ladybug, ladybug, fly away home,
your house is on fire,
and your children are gone..."

my fears paralyze, choke; i hang with regret.

but after all the mud has been thrown, you are muddied; bloodied and no-one can see.

i cannot roll around in the mud anymore.

it may be good for my skin,

but it's just not good for my soul.

and we all have one.

[especially ms. ladybug.]

august 29th, 2012

champagne supernova

it was our theme song.

the zeitgeist that fueled our candy red tercel with sweet dreams for the future, heralding us all the way down route 66. 

"slowly walking down the hall, faster than a cannonball..."

[that and $1.15 a gallon for gas.]

like oasis, we lived and breathed infectious energy back in '95, until we choked. it's not that the city doesn't live up to its moniker. it's just angels vanish in the smog, when you live and breathe it too long.

so i arrived for my weekly visitation with my fur daughter. 

wagging tail. check. bum sniff. check. "where-have-you-been?" squeal. check.

but, it was checkmate for my not-so-sexy-looking, not-yet-ex.

"are you ok?".

"my back really hurts.".

a man who may very well have a fractured disc (mri pending), stood before me, all dressed up with no place to pipe.

for the last 12 years, k. has been playing pipes at a birthday party for "peaches". this is
not a code word. i don't think k. even knows her name. but i don't think "peaches" will be online surfing, accidentally stumbling upon my blog. "peaches" is 94. her daughter, l., hit on k. at a cemetery after he played a funeral, introduced herself, explained how much her "mother" adores the bagpipes, and k. being k., has played at "peaches" birthday party ever since.

but k. being k., who, for all intents and purposes, bit down on a stick for a week after having a kidney ripped from his guts, had not taken a pain pill. and looked it.

"do you want me to drive you?".

i'm not sure what was more surprising. me agreeing to drive him to simi valley, thereby sacrificing my floor exercise routine with maggie, or k. agreeing that he needed help. either way, it was a milestone moment in the ivanans-mcintyre household.

yum. the irony was delicious. i would have licked my fingers, but i was too busy adjusting my chauffeur cap and gloves.

there we were. the mirror image of the way we were. in the role of barbra, i drove, with a crystal clear view of kevin's past; defogged. petal to the metal, this legal eagle flew, under the speed limit now. no bugs to smear my vista, no drugs to steal my soul. i glanced over at k. in the role of robert, bob to his friends, and in my mind's eye i gently pushed back a lock of hair as he slept. i leaned over to turn on the radio, 

"someday you will find me, caught beneath the landslide..."

his silence directly proportional to his pain level, i was soon privy to buzzy musings about l.'s devotion to her mother, her hard-knock-life and the party that usually included subway sandwiches, faithful friends and care workers, all topped by a champagne cake.


you know, these are things you just don't think about until you get sober. 

and soon enough all i was thinking about was staying sober.

l. was definitely one of the reasons why, if someone had asked me a year ago at a party, "can i get you something to drink?", i would have rapidly, and most assuredly responded, "yes, PLEASE. a big FAT vodka soda with extra lime."

but this was a party that didn't even serve alcohol. god. no wonder they had a champagne cake.

l. was a lovely hostess. a gracious hostess. and i guess l. was trying to make up for the fact that "peaches" doesn't talk at all. 

l. was very concerned that her minor leg operation become the topic of conversation. the physio she was enduring! the horrible ignorance of doctors! all before the front door clicked shut. never mind the double-transplanted woman standing before her whom, "she'd heard so much about, and was finally meeting!". meanwhile, the double-transplanted woman felt her protective, albeit separated, wifely fur-coat hackle sharply, vibrate in high c.; screaming for the quiet soldier beside her. her man in uniform; suited up, doped up, quietly grinning and bearing-backing his load as only k. can. 

but, it takes one to know one, right?

this kindergarden certified chatty-cathy, ("henriette shows great intelligence, but is a little chatterbox.") thawed to l.'s siberian insecurities; initially isolating, but upon exploration, a vast, uncharted resource. l. was lovely, if not subtle, delegating marching orders to every member of the party, while constantly reminding us there were more a-listers on call.

but, at long last, the pipes called.

"your husband! he's so talented! you must be so proud!"

they clamored around the little red haired girl, while k., with mastered flexibility, snapped photos with his right hand, cradled his pipes under his left shoulder, and balanced the entire act with the smooth, comedic timing of a highly-rated neilsen sitcom. and with the deft deflection of the token quirky/overweight/gay/politically incorrect character, she quipped, "what was the third thing you did at k.'s wedding?", completely blanking as to the trifecta of talents he had perfected at his sister's wedding.

"sing!", k. called over his shoulder, on his way back out to strike up.

"oh, yes! k. sang, took pictures and played the pipes at his sister's wedding!", she proclaimed, hands clasped in front of her chest.

[i will not insert a joke about low self-esteem. i will not insert a joke about low self-esteem. i will not...]

and just to button up that "veryspecialblossom" episode, l. hovered over us, breezily
reminiscing as to the time and place she met k.. oh, then her sharp denoument, the moment she realized he had a wife.

"...then you pulled a business card out of your wallet, and i saw this stunning woman on it, and when you said she was your wife, i thought, geez, what a beautiful, perfect couple..."

and it just hung there. 

the truth. the truth that only we knew. and we smothered it quick with a blanket of soft chuckles, sidelong glances and awkward kicks towards a dying fire.

and through it all sat "peaches". through the party, the piping, the pursuit of perfection.

she reminded me of a mall santa with her chubby, jolly presence, so pretty in pink, silently soaking up each moment; distractingly dense with peace and joy.

and she reminded me of bedstemor. sunny, simple, smiling bedstemor, who was "just" a homemaker, and "just" a mom, but when she smiled, everyone felt it in their cheekbones. 

their ability to unearth joy from grim rot.

["how to eat fried worms", indeed.]

bedstemor with a cancer-riddled spine; morphine-coated throat, straining only for my self-preservation, self-respect.

and "peaches", a decade without breath for words or walk. but, for not one second does she need them.
there we sat. side by side. slices of cake passed overhead. my polite decline either unheard or ignored. and so it landed. and i stared. my favorite. the slice with grainy, neon-pink flower. innocuous rose. symbolic sin. just one bite. one sip. one pill. maybe not today, tomorrow, but suddenly, shockingly, you are begging, crying, dumpster-diving; shoving anyone who stands in the way into the current that is taking you down.

it was a simple gesture. surgically precise and quick. in and out. 

i blinked. and blinked again.

in the silent seconds k. had ravaged his fluffy slice, i had daydreamed about the room,
frozen stare; smile. and in a curt, covert action, worthy of insertion into an opening sequence of a daniel-craig-bond-flick, k. had sliced my piece in half, manoeuvred it onto his plate, and wolfed a reasonable portion thereof, before squishing the remainder to look like he was appropriately stuffed and sated with sugary sweetness.

it was the door slam heard around the world.

or for those not up on their ibsen, my world got a little bit brighter.

[my champagne supernova.]

whenever that song shocks onto the waves, we bolt into the past, and k. invariably comments, in a way that only a wife, ex-or-not, can find endearing, how the song reminds him of the time when we moved to l.a. 

[initially a fantastic explosion, that ejects most of its mass.] 

after the smoke and mirrors are packed away, what lies beneath is the truth.

and sometimes the truth is a half-eaten piece of cake; words don't matter.

champagne stops flowing and supernovas burn out.

"but you and i will never die, the world's still spinning 'round, we don't know why..."

love never dies.

[happy birthday, "peaches".]

oct 4th, 2012

you don’t bring me flowers anymore

can a kettle be romantic?

it was my grand prize, the holy grail of gifts offered to me upon the disheveled sheets of a hotel bed in san bernardino, california.

silver, shiny, surprising.

[happy birthday.]

we are the couple with a patented armband. it slips over our sleeves, radiating satellite
signals of emotion; throbbing 'round with world to the beat of our open hearts.

yeah, i couldn't hide it.

"you bought me a kettle?", i drooped, dismayed.

"but, you like tea.", confucius say.


here's the irony. i am your least romantic friend. i do not think your child's crayon scribbles are adorable, weddings with bubbles/doves/rice or any variation thereof is cheesy, and february the 14th, that flimsy, fabricated franchise, is for suckers.

ah, but it's the bud that gets me every time.


heady blossoms of succulent, sensual sweetness; my nostrils toking on memories, my heart vaulting through time.


for this certified city child; downtown dweller, with a bedroom view of the world's tallest free-standing structure as it elevatored up into the sky, nature was but a panoramic picture of [high] park, not cognitive crunchings underfoot. only in a small and slow land across the ocean, did natural infatuation flower.

in bedstefar's rose garden i crushed to most traditional bloom, the rose, and have been blushing ever since. idyllic summers, bliss. windy beaches, black licorice and cycling trails of escape. child-wide innocence, pre-aids, pre-internet. squashed siblings united on the home front, n. and i'd bullet down the hallway; our apartment's gaza strip, dodging parental anarchy that never ceased fire. danish summers were a respite from our father's battle, the war he never surrendered. this 70's show was a true merchant/ivory film come to life, minus the corsets i was never able to fill anyway.

over the years, my floral favorite split-screened with the lilac. fruity, flirty flower. one whiff of its syrupy scent and i am drifting, twitching back into pubescent angst; melting overwintered, toronto days when gray slush still hulked curbside, but throaty breaths hinted at winter's retreat; spring's burgeoning blitz. crawling out of your skin; snowsuit, onto melting glaciers of yearn.

he lies tractioned head to toe, smarting submissive. he describes his pain level to the physiotherapist as a 6 out of 10. her heart twitches. she, sense memoried. so well versed in the rhythm of the pain scale, a "9" would roll off her tongue as trippingly as iambic pentameter to the elizabethan actor, landing a delicious, drugged reward for her high score.

now chauffeur to her loaded lad, her heart twitches again at the bulge in his pants’ pocket.

his painkillers.

[rattle, rattle, rattle....]

with an echoing ruckus smothering marley's entrance, as dickens' ghost clanged up from hell's holding cell, every drag of his leg rattles a delicious, distracting din. every hobble prattles his pills pavlovian, inflaming her cold coals of sobriety. while marley's torment spread equator fat, her purgatory's packaged in a pill, just a slight of hand away.

["it would be so easy..."]

but, then. paradise lost.

now, dead-weight dragging new baggage he wishes the airline lost, his pockets rattle 'n roll with oxycodone; norco-singing, endlessly repeating the seductive moans and groans of last summer's sin-soaked chart topper.

["so, call me, maybe..."]

so, if caring for the hooked-up, laid-up man taking 6 painful minutes to sit up in bed is poetic justice, then sign me up for the slam.

i've got a beret, pages of rehabus vomitus, and an audience of one held captive by bed.

[isn't it romantic?]

i dreamed a dream. years of hints, as subtle as celebratory plate crashing at a greek wedding. loud, longing admiration for every bundle prettying up the house. soft, squirrely sighs as i'd arrange and rearrange. and a pencil-pointed declaration of how. much. i. love. flowers.

but, eventually, like an exhaustive evening of uninspired erotic exertions, i ceased huffing and puffing and chose to walk over the finish line.

and gave up.

so you could have blown me over with a baby's breath, when suddenly presented with a fistful of sweetheart roses; deep pink, tear-stained mauve. fresh from bedstefar's fabled garden, the rosy bunch buzzed with silence, leaving me weak at the bees' knees.

i blushed.

and my first thought was,

"but, i stole pills from you."

you are the thorn in his side that can never be expelled; wily weed.


romance is not a well-tended garden; sterilized manicure. not trudging a pedestrian landscape of brick paths, automatic sprinkles and feng shui fountains.

romance is the steadfast slog of a man, through the surging swells of sickness. surviving mattress-turning nights, black-eyed peeves and a timer set every two hours to chart your intoxicated depth of breath.

romance is the cushion of his arms as you pillow the rare wetness upon his classic-cut cheeks. damp-pressed, your gray, failing form is cradled like the child you have become. and he holds your head still against narcotic waves lolling it feral; free.

romance is dodging words like darts; sharp, scarring. fleet of foot he'd sidestep your wild swings, as you belligerently battled his punching bag to a pulp with your poisoned spit.

a rope of words that can never be untangled, just noosed tight until there's silence.

our romance is now revenge against a monster; spearing passionate surrender.

and peace.

in our home, there is a truce. more than a truce.

[cease eternal tarry, starless nights.]

it is dawn.

the kettle's on the stove.

she's flowering, prettied with pink.

and romance is in the air.

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