Whale and Crow

crow at the wall
I took this picture in Laguna Beach last week. I thought it was an interesting juxtaposition that seemed laden with meaning, and although I wasn’t sure what the meaning was, it felt vaguely ominous to me. I’ve decided to post it with a couple of poems I like, one about being in the belly of a whale, the other on what crows are telling us. Either one applies to the present moment.


Measure the walls. Count the ribs. Notch the long days.
Look up for blue sky through the spout. Make small fires
with the broken hulls of fishing boats. Practice smoke signals.
Call old friends, and listen for echoes of distant voices.
Organize your calendar. Dream of the beach. Look each way
for the dim glow of light. Work on your reports. Review
each of your life’s ten million choices. Endure moments
of self-loathing. Find the evidence of those before you.
Destroy it. Try to be very quiet, and listen for the sound
of gears and moving water. Listen for the sound of your heart.
Be thankful that you are here, swallowed with all hope,
where you can rest and wait. Be nostalgic. Think of all
the things you did and could have done. Remember
treading water in the center of the still night sea, your toes
pointing again and again down, down into the black depths.

(Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale by Dan Albergotti, from The Boatloads, BOA Editions)

CROWS by Judith Barrington

Crows startle the clouds
with grievances never resolved
and warnings blurted into thin air.

Once in a while, the cries of all those who tried to survive
pour from the funnels of their throats.
No wonder we never really listen.

Like most animals, crows tell the truth:
working hard to penetrate our tiny tubular ears,
they cackle on telephone lines while we watch TV.

Once I did listen to a crow, but even when I had heard
his whole story, there was nothing I could do.
Next, I thought, I’d have to listen to squirrels and coyotes.

I like to think I deal with my share of rotten truths
but I couldn’t bear to kneel down in damp grass
and listen to the hedgehog or the mole.

(Crows by Judith Barrington, from Horses and the Human Soul, Story Line Press)

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Until Soon

wedding venueLast week involved a foray south, some of it difficult, but culminating in a visit with dear friends and a wedding in the mountains. It felt odd to see a little girl we once knew suddenly appear before us as a stunningly beautiful bride, one of those moments that render the passage of time so tangible you can almost feel it like a wind whooshing by. But then there were the comforting touchstones of friendships that have endured across decades, reminiscing and philosophizing with laughter in between, and promises to get together sooner than we have.

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Blackbirds on a Green Lawn

esther for blogMy mother is still at the assisted living facility where she has resided for more than a decade, and I’m grateful that she’s been able to remain in a setting that is familiar to her, but there’s something about it that always makes me sad. As I walk up the stairs I brace myself for whatever new problems I may unearth and for a certain smell that greets me as I push open the door. It’s an institutional smell, one of disinfectant, soiled laundry, unappealing meals, some sort of stagnation that makes me crave air. My mother feels it too, and although she doesn’t complain, she’s always eager to go outside.

She seems more bewildered than usual. “What are we waiting for?” she asks. “What’s supposed to be happening? Where am I supposed to be?” She’s wobbly, and I am told she fell down, and there’s a new bruise on her thin white skin, along with a rash, and her feet are so swollen and sore she’s been unable to wear her usual shoes. I don’t know what we are waiting for. I try to be cheerful.

It’s hard for her to get up from a seated position, and it has become difficult to get her in and out of the car, but as soon as we step out of the building, she becomes more animated. With childlike enthusiasm she remarks upon the clouds, the warmth of the sun, the flowers and birds, a cat slinking by. We head over to the drive-thru lane of the McDonald’s on 17th Street, not a choice I’d ever make otherwise, and I hand her a soft-serve vanilla ice cream, and she gratefully licks and slurps. She gulps, in fact. It occurs to me that she is gulping at life, or whatever is left of it, inhaling what pleasures remain, grasping, almost greedy, still here and still wanting. It occurs to me that her old resilient body knows only to keep going. It’s not about making sense. But the senses.

There’s no real conversation anymore, not that there ever was much. I write notes, although lately I wonder how much she is comprehending, and I do know that whatever information she derives in the instant of reading evaporates almost immediately. As part of the ritual of my visits, I pull out a composition notebook that we keep in a bureau drawer near her bed, and I make a journal entry for her, marking the date (which is always a surprise to her) and reviewing what we did in the course of this day. There are more than ten years’ worth of these journals stashed in her room.

But what surprised me the other day was the discovery of an audiotape I made of a conversation I had with her nine years ago. I’ve been working on an oral history project recently and was sorting through old transcripts and tapes when I came upon this one. I did not recall that I’d ever attempted to interview her, and it was startling to hear her voice, loud and clear in a way it no longer is, with its almost comical New York accent. Even then it was difficult to maintain the thread of questions and answers. Her responses are often confused, and she had obviously forgotten many things already. But occasionally she is remarkably lucid on this tape, and I was surprised at how independent she still was at that time, going for walks on her own outdoors, changing her own hearing aid batteries, genuinely engaged in activities.

Most fascinating to me, however, were the stories she shared. There aren’t many, but they are touching, and I find it curious to think about the randomness of what remains. Why did these fragments of her long life linger in memory with such clarity while others blurred or vanished entirely?  For example, she talked a lot about the candy store her parents ran when she was a child in Corona:

We had candies for a penny, and we had candies for a nickel. My favorite candy bar was the Wow. It was a nickel. It was a big bar with marshmallow. I loved it….Besides candy, they sold nuts, salty seeds, Indian nuts, and what do you call the other seeds? Pumpkin seeds. We had big jars and you scooped them out. I think it was like a penny a cup or two cents a cup. Yeah, we had that candy store for a while. I lived in back of the store. We had four rooms in the back and we lived there. We lived upstairs too for awhile. But we moved down. The janitors were the Picklers.

And I had a friend there that used to come. Her name was Mildred Piantanida. She used to come for her Coke. She loved her Coca Cola. And cigarettes. We sold cigarettes, you know. And she would sit and talk with me. Her name was Mildred Piantanida. She passed away a long time ago. She was quite young. She had two sons, two boys, and her husband was Italian. Piantanida. Oh, she was a nice lady. She was my friend. She gave me a lot of business, you know. Yeah, she was older than me. And I moved away. And then I heard when she had passed away. She was sick. I never forget her. She was very nice.

She also talks on this tape about her ill-fated musical aspirations:

I had a piano in Corona in the room in back of the store. We had the store, remember. It was an old upright, a nice piano, and I wasn’t playing it yet. I just had a couple of lessons. And my mother, she chopped it up for firewood. I cried. I says, “Why, Mother?” She said, “We need the wood for fire.” I lived in a cold flat. It was a cold flat in back of the store. She had someone come and chop it up. I wasn’t there. I said, “Why?” She said nobody’s gonna take it. An upright piano. It was a nice piano.  Oh, I felt so bad. But we were poor, you know. And we needed the firewood.

God, that story still hurts when I hear her telling it. I even wonder if the lack of musical ability in my own life was sealed way back then. (But it was a cold flat.)

I asked her if she had any other musical experience, and she said:

I started with the piano a couple of times. And then I started with the violin. One of my cousins owned a music store in Flushing and they gave me the violin. I took a few lessons. An Italian man used to come give me lessons. But I gave it up. It’s too bad I didn’t keep the violin. He was a nice man, an Italian man. He wanted me to be a musician.

I reminded her that she used to be a good singer, and she immediately recounted this story that I’d heard from her when I was a little girl:

Yeah. I went to a studio where they test the voice. My mother took me. We went on the train. We had to go to Brooklyn. We went to the studio and they told me to sing a song. Do you know that I wouldn’t open up my mouth?! I was so shy. So he told my mother. “She’s not ready yet. Take her home.”

It must have been a terrible disappointment for both of them. A lost voice, a lost opportunity. I wondered how her mother reacted:

She wasn’t mad. She was a good mother. May she rest in peace. She was a good mother, my adoptive mother.

So my mother would not be famous, but she seemed proud of a job she held in Manhattan’s Garment District in the 1940s and her fleeting contact with a celebrity there:

I worked for Kolmer Marcus in New York. One day George Raft came in for his coat. I filled out the slip. They sold men’s suits and coats. Expensive. Daddy couldn’t afford a suit there. 

Speaking of Daddy:

You know where I met Daddy? At a dance. With my girlfriend Sylvia. That’s where I met him. I met him at The Manhattan Center. It was a dance hall. He came over and he swept me off my feet.

Then I got married and I moved into the house where he was living. His mother was a sick lady. She had that illness. Multiple sclerosis. I met her, she met me. She took a liking to me. They used to have a lady come in and take care of her. She passed away in the hospital. She was young too. I remember. I didn’t go to the funeral. And then when Daddy came back I said, “Oh, I’m so sorry.” I felt bad. He handled it fine. He was strong. 

There are more meanderings  on the tape, mostly bits and pieces prompted by my specific questions, and I know enough about the facts to note the many mistakes and confusions, but I’m glad I made this effort to record her then.  It could never happen again, even at this standard.

For now, she’s either drifting into the distant past or in the moment, more or less. We drive through a nearby residential neighborhood whose quiet streets are lined with beautiful homes and tall trees, and she slurps her ice cream. This is real, and now, and it makes her  happy. We pull over to a shady place along the curb and sit for a few minutes. She counts eleven big blackbirds on a bright green lawn.


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Don’t Let the Sky Horses Go Unwritten

Maybe this post is for teachers. Or maybe it’s for someone out there who now and then feels the urge to write, even if just a few scribbled words in a journal.  All I want to say about it is this: Take the time, make the time.

What prompted me to think along these lines were some treasures I unearthed while searching bravely for something else among the papers piled in crates in my garage. There was a stack of kids’ “literary journals” going all the way back to Laguna Beach, 1994, when I started an after-school writers’ club for children in the library of El Morro Elementary School.  It seems odd, but I did that, and I wasn’t even a teacher yet, and kids showed up, and they wrote.  They wrote about soccer and cycles of life, about home and homelessness, about forests and fear, seashells and rain, anxiety and laughter. We put together a handsome book of their poems, complete with tiny footprints on the cover, and we called it Small Journeys.  A little girl in the writing club named Erica had an epiphany afterwards: “You can write about what you have seen, what the world is like.”  Small Journeys is filled with what these now grown-up children saw and what their world was like,  and it was a pleasure to sit in the garage and flip through it. I hope Erica kept up her writing.

meridianI also found simple stories in my garage written in fledgling English by the kids from Mexico and El Salvador that I knew in my student teaching days in Laguna Hills, and I still remember how proud they were to present these to their parents. There were delightful booklets of poems and copies of Insight from Vista de las Cruces here in Gaviota, and a dazzling stack of Meridians from nearby Dunn Middle School, one of them subtitled “Glittering with Possibilities” and literally adorned with glitter, a speck of which is still sparkling on my hand at this moment.

The content? Glimpses of moments and meaning in the lives of kids, sometimes frivolous, often deeply moving, things that needed to be said whether they knew it or not. Maybe a few of these kids were taking their first wobbly steps onto a lifelong pathway of expression, and maybe some of them never wrote again if not forced, but all of them at least had these focused opportunities to craft words and even see them in print. And here they are, exquisitely preserved as if in amber.

Sitting in the garage by the bicycles and surfboards, I smiled as I read a first grade girl’s image of sky horses who come out in the night, leaping and playing until morning, and another’s armadillo sittin’ on his porch gettin’ a daily scorch.  I read about fears of falling with no arms to catch you, a backyard that was a boy’s entire world, fog that blocked the path to noon. A middle school girl remembered her  grandfather teaching her how to fish (putting his “rusty calloused hands on top of mine”) and only later understood what he really meant when he told her to throw herself out into the real world and see what she could catch. Another kid remembered his great-grandmother, who smelled of sherry and always told him that raspberries were the best food in the world.

Beloved dogs romp across these pages, dancers dance, campfires flicker, gum sticks on the soles of shoes. One boy wrote about sketching a meticulous portrait in pencil of his school principal, wrinkles and all, as a gift for her. It was the best drawing he ever did, but when he saw her reaction, he crumpled it up and threw it away and learned that even a loving gesture can be misunderstood. Tears are shed here, trees are climbed, and bright Saturday mornings keep on coming, promising anything.

Thank God we took the time. And if you’re a teacher or a parent, please make sure you do, no matter what the big shots are telling you these days. Let kids write freely now and then to voice their feelings and fantasies, to explore an event and discover the learning lodged within it, to experience the sheer pleasure of language. Let them see the page as a space where they can be silly or serious, defiant or heartbroken, connected or alone. They may find a lifelong refuge.

As for me, I don’t know what I’m going to do with all the gorgeous and heart-rending student publications sitting in my garage. I don’t even know what I’m going to do with my own journals, a far scarier prospect.  I just know to the core of me that they needed to happen, and I’m really glad they did.

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Pause. Fast Forward. Pause.

moonriseI’ve been enjoying that bright broad-faced full buck moon rising above the sea with such aplomb, beaming into my window at night, spilling its extravagant light all over us. I’m delighted too by the singing of the canyon wren, sometimes several performances in succession, heart-rending cascades of descending notes, and by the crowd of California quail that forage in the brush near the orchard, their topknots bobbing as they scratch around, their noisy bursts of whirring flight, and the hummingbird at this very moment hovering above the cape honeysuckle. Long hot days, fragrance of sage, progression of golden hues upon the hills…ah, how summer comes to here!

Meanwhile, I’ve started a new project with my friend Lori, and I’ll tell you more about this soon, but for now we’re laying the groundwork, building a website, gathering content. We’re calling it the Living Stories Collective, and our plan is to interview people and create an enduring, online archive of their stories, recording the wisdom and lessons life yields, documenting personal observations and details that might otherwise be forgotten. We want to provide the space and opportunity for individuals to share their memories and be heard. We’ll learn from one another.

This coming weekend, Monte and I are going to the wedding of a friend’s daughter, where we’ll be seeing a few people we haven’t seen in many years. I imagine it’s going to be sweet, but also strange to see the changes the decades have wrought in each of us.  I think it’s fair to say we were an unusually fit and active group back in the day, and even when the kids were little, we used to camp and ride bicycles together, pulling the toddlers along in trailers. In fact, the bride-to-be whose wedding we’re attending was born just a month before my own daughter, and we figured those two little girls would be best friends forever, which didn’t turn out to be the case. The years sped by, and I haven’t seen the bride since she was a child, and on Saturday I will be watching her get married. There’s a disconcerting suddenness to it.  It’s like time lapse photography, a fast forwarding of events, a free fall into the future.

Or maybe it’s just a reminder of mortality, and how fast everything happens. And there’s something morbid about that, but in a weird way it’s also exhilarating. Look at us. We’re all rolling without brakes towards the edge of the cliff, picking up speed. It’s a hell of a ride.

I want to gather some stories along the way.


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Ah, summer.  Yesterday our friends Michael and Lori brought us these gorgeous apricots and peaches, some at their precise moment of readiness. The peaches were particularly luscious: plump and perfumey, firm-fleshed and sweet, the ones to which I will compare all subsequent peaches, and the latter will always be wanting. I found the right poem:

Peaches by Peter Davison

A mouthful of language to swallow:
stretches of beach, sweet clinches,
breaches in walls, pleached branches;
britches hauled over haunches;
hunched leeches, wrenched teachers.
What English can do: ransack
the warmth that chuckles beneath
fuzzed surfaces, smooth velvet
richness, plashy juices.
I beseech you, peach,
clench me into the sweetness
of your reaches.


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I Caught A Morning

july3By 5 a.m. I was fully awake, watching the sky in its journey to dawn. First a bright planetary object rose above the hills…Venus? I wish I knew these things. Next a thin white line of daylight traced the silhouetted shapes of earth I see from our window, and then came a moment when it could no longer be denied: morning had arrived.

Here’s where I did something different. I got out of bed, dressed (sort of, in a not-for-prime-time way), hurried outside, and got on my trusty bicycle. It was just an impulse.

I took that picture of the Sacate Canyon road along the way. In reality, the color of the hills was more subtle, muted, pale…very much like hay. And I want to remember that hay is what the world smelled like. Hay and sweetness. And the sky in its shy whiteness felt gentle and protective. And everything was absolutely still.

The main road, Rancho Real, was deserted. Not a car passed. I paused to look at the ocean. It was gray, white-fringed, puddled intermittently with glassy patches. A cow grazed on the bluff.

I turned up Coyote Canyon and began my climb. At first I’d hoped to see some wildlife, and then I began to hope I didn’t. Imagining myself an unexpected morning meal for a mountain lion, I hummed and talked out loud in a good assertive voice, then felt silly and stopped.  That’s when I heard the canyon wren.  Bits of daylight were snagged in the branches of the oaks, the fields grew gradually more golden, and no one can tell me I wasn’t ten years old again as I coasted back down Sacate toward home.

It was good. I feel like I have a secret. And even in town later (yes, that’s where we’re headed) I’ll know that a part of this day was mine.

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On Dreams

lonelydreamscapeLast night I dreamed that I was teaching again, or rather, expected to teach. I was trying to pull myself together somehow, hiding on the other side of a big grassy field that was already noisy and colorful with children. There were pennants strung above and flapping in the breeze, someone shouting into a megaphone, and a sense of anticipation and excitement that only translated into panic and anxiety for me. I had no lesson plan and no idea what I would say to the kids who would be expectantly awaiting my wisdom. I felt completely unprepared and unqualified, and it was a relief to wake up.

I’ve been having dreams like this, or variations, for as long as I can remember. There are courses to teach for which I have no knowledge, tests to take for which I have not studied, a speeding car I don’t know how to brake. I look down and see I forgot to put on clothes, or I need to find my way home but have no sense of where I am. There are recurring dreams of falling, or of frantically trying to dial a number, unable to get through. There are nightmares about cats clawing and clinging to me, and I’m unable to shake them, and the sad dreams about going back to my childhood home or trying to find and talk to dearly loved people, soon followed by the realization that they are gone.

I’ve been thinking about dreams lately, reading a few thoughts by Carl Jung about how much they reveal. “No amount of skepticism and criticism,” he wrote, “has allowed me to regard dreams as negligible occurrences. Often enough they appear senseless but it is obviously we who lack the sense and ingenuity to read the enigmatic message from the nocturnal realm of the psyche.”

I don’t think any of the dreams I’ve just listed are that difficult to decipher.  What I am particularly interested in after my admittedly superficial perusals of Carl Jung, are big dreams, archetypal dreams, dreams that reflect a greater sense of destiny and awareness of self, maybe more along the lines of the way people in primitive cultures view dreams:

“[Primitive man] attributes an extraordinary importance to [dreams], so that it often seems as though he were unable to distinguish between them and reality. To the civilized man dreams as a rule appear valueless, though there are some people who attach great significance to certain dreams on account of their weird and impressive character. This peculiarity lends plausibility to the view that dreams are inspirations.”

Here’s a dream I had a few years ago that was imbued with the aura of myth and seemed like a big one to me. It involved an encounter with creatures who were half men and half lions, and a facing and overcoming of fear. That was a memorable and unique dream, and it bestowed courage upon me. It seemed as significant as a real world event. I’ve had a few others like that, such as the dream in which I swim. Because of that particular dream, I think I know what actual swimming feels like.

And then there was the victory dream of June 6, 1982, recorded in a dream journal I was keeping then but would have never forgotten anyway, in which I was being chased but for the first time did not freeze in terror. Instead: “I was clear-thinking and able to function, running fast, wearing a blue silk garment that trailed in the wind, my running turning into flying, but I am in control, I can navigate and see and land when I want to.”  I was beginning to change my life at that time, but I don’t know if the dream was prompted by reality or caused the reality, reinforced what was happening or inspired it.  In any case, I was never quite the same afterwards.

A few more words from Carl Jung: “The dream is a little hidden door in the innermost and most secret recesses of the soul, opening into that cosmic night which was psyche long before there was any ego consciousness, and which will remain psyche no matter how far our ego-consciousness extends… All consciousness separates; but in dreams we put on the likeness of that more universal, truer, more eternal man dwelling in the darkness of primordial night. There he is still the whole, and the whole is in him, indistinguishable from nature and bare of all egohood. It is from these all-uniting depths that the dream arises…”

I’m taking note. 

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Office Spaces

Cyn in office
The other day I was listening to a discussion of a book called Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace by Nikil Saval.  It traces the evolution of the modern workplace as economies shifted from agriculture to industry to information-based, leading to the generally formulaic settings we know as offices. The book talks about the history of suspended ceilings and fluorescent lights, typewriters and dictaphones, vertical file cabinets and elevators, and of course, cubicles. “Man is born free,” writes Saval, “but he is everywhere in cubicles.”

Well, maybe not everywhere. Silicon Valley offices like Google were mentioned, with their spaces designed to blur the distinction between work and leisure. There was also acknowledgment of the rise of freelancing and other forms of what Saval calls “precarious employment” in an era of insecurity where traditional career paths are vanishing.  But for the millions of employees for whom work means going to an office, there is something about the setting that is both predictable and, if you really think about it, weird.  The discussion triggered memories for me about the years of my life during which offices were my habitat.

My first office gig was in Chicago. I’ve used the above photo in a previous post, so it may look familiar, but it’s the only picture I have of me in that particular office setting, or any, come to think of it, and that’s no surprise–the interior of an office is not usually where people feel like snapping photo memories. I remember the man who took this, a tall Swede named Mr. Sandberg, who walked in with a camera one ordinary day in 1973, asked me to look up, and surprised me with a print a few weeks later. That office was in a skyscraper on Wacker Drive, and I was the front-desk receptionist, which was a lowly position indeed, but everyone stopped and talked to me: the man who came to deliver the mail, the one who tended the plants, secretaries, researchers, department directors, even the big boss, whose name, ironically, was Mr. Bottom.

In addition to answering phones, greeting and announcing visitors, typing letters on that handsome IBM Selectric (taking care to insert carbon paper for a copy), and putting together scrapbooks, as I seem to be doing in the photo, I brought tea or coffee to my superiors twice a day. Needless to say, all but three of my superiors were men. There was one female director, Miss Winifred Potts, a tall, stern woman with the demeanor of an old-fashioned schoolteacher who was clearly married to her career and appeared to be well into her 60s. There were also two younger women in management positions who, although probably no more than five or ten years older than I was, seemed so smart and sophisticated to me that I felt shy around them. They in turn felt awkward about my bringing them coffee and suggested I skip them in my rounds. But the men were fine with this display of servitude, and a few of them also used it as an opportunity to assess my physical attributes as I passed and wink to their cronies.

imgresOh, I could tell you stories. It’s hard to convey the level of blatant sexism in those days, and although the workplace is still not free of it, I sometimes wonder if young women today fully appreciate how much they have benefited from the feminist movement that was just gaining momentum then.  For the time and place, however, and given my desperate situation, this was not a bad office. I would take the el straight into the Loop, walk a few blocks to the tall glassy building by the river, and ascend via elevator to the 24th floor. Everything was modern and shiny, corridors were carpeted, and the important men had plush offices with closed doors, brass name plates, and impressive views of the city. It was a relatively quiet kind of office, but typewriters clicked, phones rang, there was a murmur of conversation, and by and large, folks seemed purposeful. Since I  basically felt alienated from my entire life, I didn’t feel any more or less alienated here, and I was making $425 a month, which wasn’t terrible. On the other hand, I also knew I was only passing through.

In the course of the circuitous journey that followed, I found myself doing office work again and again, maybe because typing was my most trusty survival skill. There were temp jobs in small, bleak offices all over the place, and I’m struck in retrospect by how similar they were to one another: fluorescent lights, metal file cabinets, cheap swivel chairs, maybe a space heater by the desk. Later, as I advanced in education and qualified for more professional jobs in public or nonprofit agencies, I sometimes had my own office within an office. These were unimpressive spaces in sometimes seedy buildings, but the distinction was clear: I was now someone who told others what to type, and my desk was not in the shared common area.

Before long it was the early 1980s and word-processors were beginning to replace the typewriters, and no one knew what carbon paper was, and maybe there was a xerox copier, and fax machines could instantly transmit a document over distance. But the phones still had those push buttons that lit up when the line was in use, and the overhead lighting was still bad, and whatever the office, someone always brought donuts, and someone else would tell you that sugar was poison, and there was a pot of bad coffee growing cold but still drinkable. There were colleagues who were competitive and colleagues who became friends, the ones who thought they were captains of the Starship Enterprise, and the ones who did as little as they could get away with. As for me, I never had a cubicle, but I felt vaguely trapped, and I always found reasons, usually valid but occasionally trumped-up, to be out of the office, until I finally escaped for good.

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Listening to My Father’s Voice

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy father’s voice is pressed onto a little disc recorded about 70 years ago when he was stationed at Camp Cooke. He had gone into Lompoc to book railroad tickets. “This message will announce my homecoming verbally,” he says. “I will be home around January 5. Until that date, I can hardly wait.” He goes on to make jokes about KP duty, sends his love, and adds, “We’re having a heck of a time trying to get tickets for a steam liner. By ten o’clock we will know whether we have succeeded…” When he discovers he has more time on the record, he sings:


cyn hearing daddyThe actual record requires a phonograph that can be played at 78 rpm, and I didn’t have access to one, but my dear friend and colleague Treebeard did. Several years ago he played it for me on his old-fashioned Victrola,  and there I am, listening for the first time. Now that was a happy moment! Then he made me a CD of it, which I downloaded onto my computer. Now any time I have the whim to hear my dad singing across the decades, all I have to do is hit that play button.

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