Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Friday, September 20, 2013

And Now For Something Completely Different

A while back, while participating in a now defunct writing club, I foolishly bragged (but in a totally unobnoxious and completely humble way) that I could write about anything. Another member threw down the gauntlet and said, "Gangster's Moll, GO."

And I did it. I posted it, feeling smug. It got the usual constructive criticism and critique, but overall it was agreed that I met and fulfilled the challenge. I liked the story. So I'm going to do something different today and post a piece of fiction. I don't do that here, because the internet is an unprincipled place. But I'm throwing caution to the wind today. Because this story is not something I would have written if not for the challenge. And because life is challenging the hell out of me right now, this story reminds me that sometimes, good things really can arise from challenges, solicited or unsolicited.

Gangster's Moll
Ain’t it funny how some people get all the breaks? Well I never got none. What’s the opposite of gettin the breaks? Gettin the shaft? Well that’s what I got then. I got shafted real good. I was born poor as dirt and a dame to boot. If you ain’t got no money and you ain’t got no prick, you ain’t got no options. So everythin I done, I done to survive. And I ain’t ashamed. A girl’s gotta eat and girl’s gotta have a roof over her head. I guess a trip to Europe now and then don’t hurt none either.

The first time I saw Sully DeSilva, I was thirteen years old and didn’t know nothin bout nothin. I sure was dazzled when he stepped outta that big black car. He was wearin a suit the color of butter that fit like a dream and black spats so shiny they seemed like they was made of glass. His hair hung thick over his forehead; black as pitch and almost as shiny as them shoes. He tipped his hat at me and winked. I guess my mouth musta been hangin open or somethin cause I sure never seen no guy like that before. I thought he musta been a movie star.

He bought a paper from Blind Benny’s news stand and turned to go back to his car, which was idlin at the curb. He stopped to gimme the once over even though I didn’t have nothin to make no guy stop and look. I didn’t have no titties to speak of and no plump little caboose. I was all knees and elbows back then. But he looked at me like I was somethina eat. I mighta been young and dumb, but I knew what that look meant alright. It made me feel hot and fluttery, like I had a fever. I tried to act like men look at me all the time but I know my cheeks was red as a beet.

“Well now….” he said, “Could my day get any better? A hot breakfast, a crisp new paper, and a vision of loveliness before me.” If my face was red before, I probly went pure scarlet right then. He laughed and chucked me under the chin. “I’ll be seein’ ya duck.”

I sure hoped so. I hoped so a damn lot. In the meantime, I daydreamed bout him plenty. I was always wearin a beautiful shimmerin gown that floated behind me like butterfly wings and strappy shoes that never hurt my feet. I had a golden cigarette holder that I held between gloved fingers, real elegant like. He always wore the butter colored suit and the black spats. I just couldn’t pitcher him in nothin else. Sometimes we danced or went to parties with well to do folks. But sometimes we just talked just cause he liked to hear what I hadda say. Course, at the end there was always some smoochin, but sometimes I got yanked back to my stinkin life before I got that far.

“Quit daydreamin and do them dishes ye lazy brat!” or “I’ll beatcha black and blue if that floor ain’t spotless, ye useless tramp!” “Worthless Slut.” “Stupid floozy.” “Whore.” Shoot, I mighta forgot my own name if it weren’t for roll call at school. But in my daydreams, he said it over and over, like it was poetry. “Essssstelllllaaaaaa”. I just loved it; loved it to bits. But I didn’t mind if he called me “Doll” or “Duck” instead. He coulda called me just about anythin and I woulda loved him for it. I just knew he wouldn’t  never call me no bad names.  
Four years later, I did see him again. I finally had some titties and a real sweet little caboose that I liked to show off in my tight skirts. But I still wasn’t nothin to look at just then, on accounna my face bein all swolled up. My Pap had beat me somethin awful cause I wouldn’t let him put his filthy paws on me. So I lit out for good. I was stayin with my Aunt Rita, who took me in when I showed up at her door and swore to have a piece a his hide if he tried to take me back home. She called him a sonofawhore and a pervert and a dirty rotten peckerhead. She wasn’t no bigger than me, but she looked so fierce that I didn’t doubt for a second she would beat his brains out with her big iron fry pan if she got the chance. I felt safe enough with her.

Anyway, I knew my Aunt Rita wasn’t no proper lady. She went with a rough crowd and did things only coarse women do. Other women stopped and watched and whispered when she walked by. She always had gentlemen callers too. I didn’t pay em no mind. They went into the bedroom and shut the door and what happened then was none a my concern. She took good care a me and that’s all that mattered.

One afternoon there was a knock on the door. It was her latest “beau” come to call. Rita was gettin dolled up, as usual, so I answered the door. When I opened it, there was my daydream man standin in the dingy hallway. My heart likeda drop right into my drawers just then. He smiled, but didn’t recognize me a course. I was a grown up woman now and my face was bashed besides. He introduced himself as Sullivan DeSilva and kissed my hand, which was tremblin somethin terrible. I told him my name and then held my breath while he repeated it. It sounded just like I always imagined. “Essstelllllaaaa.” Ooooh, but did my toes curl when he said that.

He disappeared into the bedroom with Aunt Rita and I tried not to think of what they was doin in there. I picked up his coat and hat and smelt his smell on ‘em. It was good. There was aftershave, tobacco smoke, and somethin else that I somehow knew was his own man smell. I buried my face in the soft cloth (it was cashmere, but I didn’t know that) thinkin I ain’t never felt nothin that fine. I breathed in that smell. That’s when the bedroom door opened and Sully stepped out. He was in his undershirt with his suspenders hangin down. His black hair was all mussed and I could see lipstick on his mouth. I was pure humiliated a course, but there wasn’t no sense pretendin I hadn’t been sniffin his things. He seen me the second he opened the door.

He came over to me and I could see right off he wasn’t mad. He put his hand up and touched my bruised cheek real gentle like.

“Who did that to your pretty face, Duck?” he asked.

“My Pap.” I replied. “That’s why I’m livin here with Rita.”

His eyes got kinda squinty and mean. They were blue. I didn’t have time to notice that the last time we met. All them daydreams, never knowin the color of his eyes. I never thought about it but suddenly I felt sad for them daydreams without blue eyes in ‘em. Ain’t that funny?

“Bastard. What kind of man beats a helpless girl? No kind of goddamn man at all!”

I sorta liked that he was upset about my face. I smiled at him, even though it hurt.

“It’s alright. He ain’t gonna bother me no more. I just gotta get on my feet and find some work and I’ll be just fine. I ain’t helpless.”

“No, you’re not. I can see that. But everyone needs someone, don’t they? Especially a woman like you.”

I didn’t know exactly what he meant by that.

“A woman like me?”

“Oh yes. A woman like you is made to be  loved. You ever had a beau, Duck?”

“You mean like Aunt Rita has beaus? No. I ain’t never done that. Not that it’s bad. Aunt Rita ain’t bad. It just ain’t for me.

“What about if you had just one special beau?”

“Well that would be fine, I guess.”

I was a little confused. I think it musta showed on my face cause he laughed then. He took me by the shoulders and kissed the top of my head like I was a little girl.

“How can a gal look the way you do and still be so innocent?”

“I ain’t innocent! I know what you and Rita does in there. I know you ain’t really her beau neither. But it don’t matter. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. We ain’t got nobody to depend on.”

“That’s just what I mean, Duck. Wouldn’t you like to have someone to depend on?”


“What if I said you could depend on me? What if I said I would take care of you? That we would take care of each other? Do you think you would like that?”

I did. I did think I would like that. A lot. But I was no dummy.

“What do I gotta do? Do I gotta do stuff like what Aunt Rita does with you?”

He was quiet for a moment. Then he smiled.

“Well Duck, there’s give and take in any relationship. It’s just that these kinds of relationships are more clearly defined. Do you know what that means?”

I shook my head. He was a smart fella; real intellectual like. Some of what he said didn’t make no sense at all.

“It means that we lay things out from the get go. You say what you need to be happy and comfortable; I say what I expect in return. We call those the “terms”. We might, at some point, renegotiate those terms if needed. As time goes by, we’ll learn more about each other and our expectations might change. But most importantly, you need to know that you can end the agreement at any time. You’re the boss, Duck.”

That all sounded pretty good. I knew it would mean bein his special girl and not havin any other beaus, which wasn’t no problem for me. He was the only man I ever wanted to be with anyway. And I knew it meant lettin him do things to me. It had made me sick to think of doin them things with my Pap, but when I thought of doin em with Sully, I didn’t feel sick at all. In fact, I felt pretty happy about it; excited too.

“Can I talk to Rita about it before I say yes?”

“Sure you can. Rita’s a sensible gal. I know she’ll advise you well.”

And she did.

“A deal like that don’t come around every day. You take it. You let him treat you like a Queen for as long as he’s willin and you treat him like a King. But listen doll…men ain’t like us. They get tired of lookin at the same old puss day in and day out. So you got to be smart. Whatever cash he gives you, you put away some place safe. Don’t touch it for no reason. That’s your pension plan, doll. And always keep some things on hand that you can hock quick if you need to.”

I promised that I would. It was good advice. Sully didn’t get tired of my puss, but he did have to go away for a very long time. We had a lotta good years before then, though. I found out pretty quick what Sully was, but it didn’t matter. He was good to me. I think he even loved me some. I lived in high style, cause Sully didn’t do low class. I had the best of everythin and all I had to do was look pretty and smell sweet and spread my legs when he asked me to. That wasn’t no hardship. I did everythin he asked me to do and some things he didn’t and I enjoyed every minute of it.

So youse wanted to know why. That’s why. Like I said before; no prick, no options. No good ones anyway. I know Rita didn’t mind helpin me out, but I ain’t no moocher.  So I could start turnin my own tricks, go back home and let my Pap have his way with me or work my fingers to the bone cleanin up after rich folks. Or…I could be Sully’s special girl. Since I loved him as soon as I laid eyes on him, it wasn’t no tough choice. And I never thought of myself as no whore neither.

Sully’s gonna be back one day. And I’ll be here waitin. I ain’t gotten no better offers and wouldn’t take em if I did. That’s why I ain’t no whore. Whores don’t got no loyalty, see? I do. I’ll always be Sully’s special girl. Always.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Religion For Dummies

I first wrote this post in 2006. It is STILL one of the most viewed on my blog, second only to "Real Moms Eat Pussy".  I thought I would repost it, because first of all, I think it's a damned good post. And seems as relevant today as it did then; perhaps even more so.

Religion For Dummies

(Imagine my surprise at finding an actual book by this title)

I am not a Christian. I was raised in a Christian home, and my parents tried very hard to rise above the problems that plagued the small Baptist church we attended for the sake of their faith. But eventually, dispirited and sick at heart over the petty bickering, corruption and favoritism, they simply stopped going. As Baptists living in the land of Catholicism, their alternatives were limited and so, our days of churchgoing quietly ended.

As children, my sisters and I were, as all children are, particularly vulnerable to the prejudices that proliferated there. We watched year after year as the same girl, whose parents could afford to lavish such gifts as a new stove or a second hand van upon the church, garnered the much coveted role of Virgin Mary while we, invariably, were stable animals.

We watched as Sunday after Sunday, Mr. Jones, who could no more carry a tune than grow feathers and take flight, but was obscenely wealthy, sang the Sunday solo in a ridiculously discordant falsetto. My father, who hadn't the means to bestow gilt-edged, leather-bound hymnals upon the congregation but who possessed a rich and mellifluous baritone, sat silent.

We were not at all disconcerted by our abrupt departure from that little church, and strangely, though we received no explanation from our parents, neither were we surprised or puzzled. All three of us understood and in unspoken solidarity, approved. That was the beginning of my disillusionment with and suspicion of religion as a whole, but it wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized that little church was not the only enclave of hypocritical and disingenuous Christianity. When I moved to the Bible belt as a young adult I experienced the realization that deeply held religious beliefs are often nothing more than another means for those who hold themselves in higher esteem than others to justify their intolerance and sense of entitlement.

So now you understand my stance on religion. Though I do not espouse or embrace Christian beliefs, or any religious ideology for that matter, theology is a source of endless fascination for me, both from a historical and sociological standpoint.

That said, I was recently reading about a recent study that said church attendance is at an all time low; only 45% of Americans attended church on a regular basis in 2005, as opposed to 86% in 1905 and a whopping 95% in 1805, though of course, we have to take into account the subjectivity of statistics gathered before the advent of a reliable postal and census system (The Census Bureau did not begin using statistic sampling techniques until the 1940’s). In a recent discussion it was suggested to me that this decline is due to sociological factors which make religious ideals incompatible with modern thinking and increasingly egocentric lifestyles. I think that the reality is much simpler.

People are just smarter these days.

Now, I don’t mean to imply that people of faith are intellectually inferior. But in the religious heyday, people were largely uneducated. As such, they simply accepted the way things were, because it was the way things had always been. They had no knowledge of anything that might seriously challenge their faith, nor any desire to acquire such knowledge.

By the same token, Pastors, Ministers and Priests were community leaders; people of great authority and prestige. People looked up to them and trusted them without question. They believed with the conviction of an unblemished soul, that their religious mentor would not lead them astray. People looked to them for guidance and wisdom on all manner of issues, but in regard to religious matters, it was thought by many that only a man of the cloth had the wisdom and insight needed to understand, interpret, and dissemble the word of God.

So what has changed? The way I see it, there are two key issues.

First, we have the great privilege (or grave misfortune, depending upon your perspective) of living in the information age. Generally speaking, people are literate and well-educated. From the time we are able to speak, we are encouraged to think for ourselves. We are taught to question, we are taught to seek answers. We have the freedom to decide for ourselves, and the confidence to do so. We have access to many widely varying resources and points of view, and the temerity to avail ourselves of them.

There is evidence to the contrary of many previously undisputed beliefs and now even the most poorly educated and/or heretical individual has access to this evidence, which they can use to form their own opinions. Ongoing research has debunked many of the Bible's greatest myths. Indeed, there is evidence that Christianity is as much the result of folklore and fantasy as anything else.

I am not a theologian by any means, but I read. A lot. The information is there for anyone who seeks it out. Some of the books I've read recently are Holy Blood, Holy Grail, The Magdalene Legacy, The Woman with the Alabaster Jar and The Goddess in the Gospels. Now obviously, my choices have a particular focus. This just happens to be my area of interest lately. However, these are but a few of the many tomes dedicated theism or atheism and every ideology in between. Go to the religious history section of your local bookstore and you will find the shelves bursting with them. The abundance of such material is a testament to the burning dissatisfaction and disillusionment that we as a people feel towards a rote doctrine that we once simply accepted.

The other issue is the deconstruction of the religious leader as the picture of perfect humility, morality and servility. Jim Jones poisoned his flock. Jim Baker hustled his. David Koresh, in a shocking display of sacrilege, declared himself the Messiah, and then had sex with numerous women and young girls in the name of himself. Then of course, we have the many Catholic priests who abused, molested and raped their young and trusting parishioners.

We got fed up, and then we gave up when we began to realize that the mantle of religious respectability was nothing more than carte blanche to pander to the most base human instincts. No longer were we willing to relinquish our children or ourselves mind, body and spirit to those professing to have only the salvation of our immortal souls at heart. And really, what relationship can withstand such suspicion and duplicity?

We have become a society that is less inclined toward blind acceptance and more inclined toward suspicion and disbelief. We are now a people that questions. I don't see that as necessarily a bad thing.

But I will tell you this: Some days, I envy those who have the solace of a convicted heart. Those who take comfort where it is to be found, and who believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, that sometimes a thing that cannot be seen, or proven, just is.

A Leap of Faith, they call it. And I am reminded of the quote by John Burroughs…

"Leap, and the net will appear."

So…where does the courage lie? In leaping, or in doubting? If you figure it out, let me know. Because despite my skepticism, I still get goosebumps when I happen to hear a long forgotten hymn from my childhood. And it makes me think that deep down....we all want to believe in something.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Me Blog? About What?

Recently, a friend, who was unfamiliar with blogging, but who followed a link on FB to one of my blog posts, asked me...."How do you come up with all that stuff to write? I don't really have any stories like that."

LIFE is a story, folks, and everybody has one.

We are all a collection of stories. Every experience, every encounter, every thought, every dream, every conversation, every heartache, every loss, every love, every hate, every whim, every wish....

I write about mundane stuff. And sometimes, it's really just mundane stuff. But sometimes, hidden in that perfectly prosaic, is beauty and poetry and poignance. We don't have to lead large, splashy soap opera lives to add value or interest to the world. Small lives of quiet promise and whispered dignity are often the real page turners.

People ask, "But what in the world would someone like me write about?"

There are stories every where. And you never know who is harboring a best seller behind their public façade. That cashier at the local Wal-Mart, the front desk girl at the dentist's office, the man at Starbucks that you see every day at the same time, in the same spot. They all have stories.

Look, listen, SEE and HEAR...and then...

Just write. The story will reveal itself; yours or someone else's.

People are very much like books. Someone just needs to open us up and start turning pages.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

An Atheist's Wish

You all have been reading about my struggles with Faith, Religion, Christianity, and my feelings of exclusion and prejudice living here in the South for nearly eight years now.

I wish I could say I've managed to make some sort of sense of it all in that span of time, but I really haven't. Some of you may know that I decided quite recently to come out of the Atheist closet and start being honest about who I am and what I believe, regardless of the personal costs, which can be pretty substantial in these parts. That's partially because I wasn't very happy being disingenuous and vague about it. It was thoroughly exhausting, frankly. So I decided if I was going to be unhappy anyway, I could at least be unhappy for the right reasons and feel good about the self-imposed misery.

But more importantly I realized that I was fostering an attitude of shame for my boys about our beliefs.

I don't want my children to be ashamed. Of anything. But least of all about something as emotionally and psychologically impactful as spirituality. I really and truly believe that much like sexuality, spiritual beliefs are not a choice. Being ashamed of something over which we have no control is a sad and pointless endeavor.

I was raised in a Christian home. I went to Sunday School, VBS, and church camp every summer. I dutifully learned my Bible verses, I sang and played my flute in church. I went through these motions because I knew it was expected of me and also because I hoped that sooner or later, something would click for me as it obviously had for all the people around me.

I live in a place that is steeped in Christian dogma, where every aspect of life reflects the cultural indoctrination that is so deeply pervasive here. It's like language immersion except with religion. I have read about a jillion books arguing both for and against Christianity. I've read the Bible. Hell, I even read the Left Behind series.

Sometimes I would really LIKE to believe in God, because in ways so numerous that I couldn't possibly list them all for you here without penning my own would just make my life easier.

And yet...I don't and I can't. It wasn't a choice. It just happened.

And I understand that at some point in time, it might just so happen that for my boys, the thing that makes sense for them is Christianity. Christians become Atheist and Atheists become Christians. I think the latter is less common, but it does happen. Sometimes what you know and what you feel are drastically at odds with one another. And strangely enough, the intellect is sometimes entirely powerless over instinct and intuition. People have done crazy, senseless, dangerous, reckless, even illegal things because of a feeling; a visceral, non cognitive influence that drives them in ways they don't understand.

So the thought that someone might abandon Atheism because God just feels right for them, isn't such a hard thing to imagine.

My mission these days has changed a little bit. I'm less about figuring this all out, and more about fostering understanding and acceptance between factions. We have SO much to learn from one another, but we can only do that if we are willing to abandon the preconceived ideas and misconceptions about one another. I'll admit I have my fair share of prejudices about Christians and Christianity. But I'm working on them. I really am. I often feel however, that expecting reciprocation in that regard is pretty unrealistic, because many (not all) Christians think it's their Christian duty to assimilate and indoctrinate, rather than understand and appreciate.

BUT...nonetheless, in the spirit of understanding and harmony, I offer you this. A friend recently directed me to this blog; a Christian friend, interestingly enough. Godless in Dixie. Are you kidding me??? There's actually another Atheist in Dixie, he's OUT, he's writing a blog, speaking....and I didn't know about him? A travesty.

On his site is a video about "Invite An Atheist To Church Day". I love that idea. Because it wasn't about converting him, it was about understanding him. I love how these two guys interact with one another in the full length video. No ridicule, no angry jibes, no judgment; just an open and honest exchange of ideas.

In this clip, he speaks about what Atheists wish Christians knew about them. It was so spot on I nearly stood up and cheered at the end. Pay particular attention to number 5. This one is incredibly disheartening to me. I had a good life, a pretty idyllic childhood and two loving parents. I wasn't abused or beaten, I wasn't molested by my Sunday School teacher, and I experienced no tragic life altering events until my Mother died three years ago, long after I'd rejected Christianity. Did I have experiences with Christianity that left a bad taste in my mouth? Certainly, but that was more about affirmation than realization.

So please watch. Please.
And please, feel free to comment. I get very few comments on these types of posts, and those I do get are usually from likeminded folks. Christians, I encourage you to express yourselves here. Understanding cannot happen without discourse. But please keep it respectful. Disagreement is okay, verbal bludgeoning is not.
Thank you.


Monday, September 02, 2013


I'm sick.

Being sick when you're a grownup isn't remotely like being sick when you're a child. When you're a child, everything is taken care of. When you're an adult, the world still expects things from you. You have to make your own soup and excuses.

I have the soup covered. I made a huge batch of chicken dumpling soup not long ago and since I always end up with way more than a family of four can actually eat, I froze fully 3/4 of it. I had forgotten about it and probably wouldn't have remembered if I hadn't gotten sick. I guess many of our habits and desires are hardwired from childhood.

Being sick when I was kid meant that you got to lounge about in Mom and Dad's bed. I don't really know why that was or why we wanted to. No television or video games or wifi. Just being there was enough. Now and then my Mom would pop in with medicine or soothing potions, but for the most part I was left to my own devices. Sometimes I would just daydream, making up elaborate romantic scenarios starring my heartthrob du jour. I can name them, in chronological order: Shaun Cassidy, Michael Gray (Shazam!), Lee Majors, Matt Dillon (Little Darlings), Greg Evigan (BJ and the Bear), Rick Springfield, Michael Jackson, Simon LeBon.

But mostly I read. For my 9th birthday, I received a full set of Little House on the Prairie books, bound in powder blue to match my room. I read them over and over and over again. Laura, Mary, Carrie, and Ma and Pa were as real to me as living, breathing, flesh and blood people. I felt chilled to the bone as I read about the Long Hard Winter, my very blood boiled in my veins as they all battled Scarlet Fever, and my heart skipped a beat the first time Laura met Almanzo.

As a tween I moved on to Judy Blume novels, The Black Stallion series, Nancy Drew serial mysteries and the Madeline L'Engle Wrinkle In Time series, which seemed utterly wonderful and fantastical to me. But what really melted my butter were tomes pilfered from my parents' bookshelf; Flowers In the Attic, The Thornbirds, Valley of The Dolls, Hotel New Hampshire, The Big Chill, Hollywood Wives, Exit to Eden....

Now, lest you think my parents consumed a steady diet of salacious trash, let me explain...these were the books that they kept behind the respectable, edifying and suitably cerebral books. These were the books I wasn't supposed to know about. But I did. And I helped myself to them without a shred of compunction. My mother wasn't terribly forthcoming when it came to matters of sexuality, so I had to get my information where I could.

So anyway...I whiled away many an afternoon on my parents' double bed, wallowing in their smells and hiding away from my childish cares. The walls were drab and the carpet faded and the furniture mostly secondhand. But it didn't matter. It was a palace to me. Sometimes I feigned illness just so I could retreat to that hallowed sanctuary. I'm sure my Mother knew, but she rarely called me on it. I guess she understood that sometimes a kid just needs to escape from life for a while. And she also knew that escape as a grownup is a far more complicated endeavor, and so...she afforded us the opportunity while it was still a rather simple undertaking.

"Christina is ill today. She won't be in class".

And that was all it took to shut out the world and all it's demands. God. The simplicity.

When I was really ill and truly needed to rest, my Mother would serve me piping hot chicken soup in a mug with buttered toast. She would sit with me while I ate. I can't remember what we talked about. It didn't matter. When I was finished, she insisted that I nap. She would pull the drapes closed and carefully bend the page on my book.

"Sleep. You'll feel better."

And then she would take the tray away and return to wind up the Hummel music box on her dresser. It was a circular wooden base decorated with a raised carved figure of Little Boy Blue . His horn was raised to his lips and a bluebird sat at his feet. Mushrooms grew along the fence atop which he was perched. We weren't supposed to touch it, but we did, and over the years we broke off little bits and bobs and eventually even unseated Little Boy Blue. We didn't know it was quite rare and valuable. We did know it was one of the few pretty things my mother owned. But even that couldn't stop our curious fingers. We loved that music box, and children want to touch what they love.

It survives still, in pieces. It's in my sister's possession now. It was one of the most bargained for items when we were dividing up my mother's belongings. No...THE most bargained for.

Sometimes, to this day, when I can't sleep, I conjure up the strains of  Mancini's Romeo and Juliet in my head.  When my Mother died, I experienced extreme anxiety and recurrent panic attacks. Sometimes the only way to slow my racing heart and stem the tide of rising panic, was to pull the covers over my head and hum....

As an adult it's more than physical discomfort. It's inconvenience and upheaval and shirked responsibility. It's a  mad scramble to catch up when the frailty of physical infirmity finally fades.  
You don't think of being sick as a gift. But it was. And it wasn't just the pampering in that moment. It was a lifetime of love and comfort that my Mother gave me. It comes to me with a whiff of savory soup and the strains of a melancholy melody.
I miss my Mother fiercely every single day, but never more so that when I am sick.
But the soup and the song....they get me through.