Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mish Mash

I am back on my feet: no cane, no pain, more walking. Feeling more like myself and looking ahead.

Thank you for every comment on my book excerpts. I will keep posting snippets until the darn book is finally in publication.

Here in New England the leaves are falling and the temperature has dropped. I am preparing for winter and thinking of holidays. Here are a few suggestions if/when you are in the market for gifts:

1. My friend Tracie's new CD, The Dream. Hopefully this link will take you to the first song on her CD. At $10, with a gorgeous enclosure, it's so worth it for yourself or for somebody's holiday stocking :^)

2. My friend Joss at www.etsy.com/shop/soulbrushart : Her African inspired cards are sold in sets of 8 and are just fantastic. There are four different sets on her Etsy site, along with her original art at affordable prices.

3. My first book: an adult love story. I'll sign it and send it where and when you'd like. It's available on Amazon but if you prefer to order directly from me, you'll pay a sale price of $ 8 plus shipping. 

4. Fall is a most beautiful time of year here in New England.  JB and I drive the back roads and scenes like this are common.

5. Look what JB and I made for our grandkids! I got the idea from Lo on Facebook (thank you lo) and this weekend they were a huge hit with the under six crowd-- all kinds of candy stuffed into thin gloves I pilfered from my Mother's nursing home :^)

6. I am catching up on so many people and events I've neglected since my surgery. Among this was my 97 year old Godmother's birthday. We took her out for lunch and darling 4 year old Drew wanted to sit beside her. It was all special and I felt great joy.

7. JB took this photo of 14 week old baby Reese. I think this child is an old soul. She is quick to smile and does not cry. My daughter and son-in-law are wonderful parents and it shows.  

8. Drew ready for Halloween...

9. The decoration and upgrades in a new beach house in Provincetown continue. We've installed this light over the dining room table. The table and chairs will soon be painted distressed ivory white and we are adding bead board to the wall around the table. What utter fun to make these changes and be able to pay someone else to do the work! We're on a budget but we have enough to put up a fence, fix the brick steps, add railings, paint a room or two. I am feeling very very very very lucky.

10. How to say this? We have returned Chase to the greyhound adoption agency for his placement with a different family: one that has other greyhounds. JB and I have tried everything we could think of but Chase has not been happy with us. He has been inactive and mostly unresponsive almost 23 hours a day, has howled through the night, has seemed lonely and sad. And taking him to Provincetown has been visibly traumatic for him. We know we are not the right family for his needs. So sad but relieved too. He will be placed in a family with at least one or two or three other greyhounds and where his inactivity and history can be supported without making things worse. 

We are visiting him on Friday.... :^(

That's my news. Thanks for stopping by. If you don't know already, your visits and comments are Hersey kisses to my grateful soul.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Lost Manuscript: part two :^)


My writing teacher, who is also my current editor, has advised me many times not to post any part of my second novel on my blog. "It will influence you when it's not good to be influenced," she says.

I'm not sure about that. Perhaps because 500 double spaced unedited pages have already been written. And perhaps because for me my blog is a safe haven where people I respect can say whatever and I appreciate that.


Here is another excerpt from the found manuscript of the book that's taking its own sweet time. This is the first person story of Casey Mango, a middle aged, intelligent, confused, at least slightly attractive woman with an equal capacity to soar and sink, sometimes simultaneously:

Joyce was an imposing woman: six feet tall with soft chocolate skin and body language that said, ‘proceed at your own risk.’ The only person of color in the office, she was extremely bright and clearly guarded. Her laugh was rare but deep and infectious and I got a kick from the challenge of wearing down her wall of resistance.

“Come on, Joyce! Be my friend!” I’d tease her. 

We met in late August at Brant Rock in Marshfield at a casual restaurant on the beach. My marriage was rocky. It was dusk when we began our shared appetizer of cheese fondue and jet black when we finished our shared chocolate cake. 

“How about we walk on the beach?” Joyce asked me. I remember how the moon bounced off the incoming waves, one string of light after another, silver ribbons. We walked to the shoreline and sat beside each other in the sand, the tide stopping just inches in front of us. At that moment and not until that moment, I knew this was a date.

We saw each other two times the following week and the next time after that, at Joyce’s apartment, sitting on her bed, she tossed her fists in the air.

“I can’t control myself any longer,” she said. I knew what she meant.

 That first time Joyce and I made love I experienced the first real orgasm of my life. I’d had no idea. It was a rush and ecstasy that carried me out of my body and straight into the cosmos. Shortly afterwards I understood that my passion was apparently triggered by women and knew I was in love with Joyce, who was also in love with me. I stayed with my husband for another six months, carrying on a deeply satisfying and often guilt ridden affair with Joyce, until one evening, buckling under the weight of boredom, I asked him for a separation and he reluctantly moved out the next day. 

Joyce and I would continue to shake the planets for the next two years, sometimes two, sometimes three times a day, everyday, until it became clear that I had not removed my husband’s clothes from the bedroom closet and I could not bring myself to ask him for a divorce. Joyce hung in with me through my short lived affair with a young blond California surfer guy; she patiently moved in with Grace and me for several months, and then, just after Jimmy Carter lost the election, she left me for a woman she had met at work.  I never saw it coming and I was in full disbelief for weeks and months and then years. I’d never doubted Joyce, not for a second. 

That’s what happens, I think, when you grow up believing you can bend your will. 

Your comments and feedback are welcomed and appreciated. But don't tell my writing teacher. 


Friday, October 18, 2013

The Lost Manuscript...

I cannot believe that I somehow lost the working manuscript of my second book, including the first hundred pages of the most recent second revision. It just disappeared from my laptop. I had a paper copy of some of those 100 pages but not enough to easily reconstruct, rewrite really, all over again.

It was very unlike me not to have a backup. I know I wasn't careless about saving the manuscript with these recent edits. I looked in every file and every program for it. I wondered if it was meant for me to give up and move on. 

This will be a more difficult book to publish than it is to write. It is often too close to home, and it could/may/will be hurtful to some people I love. I told myself I would not decide what to do until I finished the book. 

Then: two nights ago, while playing Words with Friends on my iPhone, the manuscript popped up. I swear this is true. It just appeared. I immediately sent myself an email copy and guess what? When I opened it, the copy I received was an older version. I can't explain any of it. I will only say that from my iphone I managed to copy-paste pages 60-100 and they were the most important. The next day, on my iPhone, the updated copy was no longer there. 

Anyway, here is a chapter, where sometimes pathetic Casey Mango and her partner Bee vacation in Italy. 


Bee and I and the tour gang are traveling to Pompeii.

Considering that the city was partially destroyed and buried under up to twenty feet feet of ash and pumice when Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79 what we see is remarkably intact: it is the bones of a mud crusted bombed out city with roads and marked lots and some standing buildings. Pompeii was lost for nearly seventeen hundred years before its accidental rediscovery in 1749 and since then, excavation has provided extraordinary details into the life of an ancient city.  

Because the Roman legal system that govenerned Pompeii unified the administration of justice throughout the provinces, the empire was largely free of large-scale power disputes. This alllowed art and architecture to flourish along with commerce and economic prosperity. This is not to say, however, that women and slaves benefitted; not even. From our first step into Pompeii, now one of the most popular tourist attractions of Italy with approximately 2,500,000 visitors every year, the ‘power over’ male aristocracy is apparent. Bee and I are fascinated and then appalled by the cave like entrance to the sex rooms frequented by the city’s wealthy men. Upon entering we see mud calcified walls creating separate spaces for makeshift straw mattresses and with explicit diagrams of various sexual positions etched on many of the interior walls. 

“The merchants and governors visited the sex rooms often, then gorged themselves with food and drink, and then, on their way home to their wives and families, they would stop to relieve their indulgences at one of several vomitoriums.” Our tour guide describes this quite matter of factly. “Then,” she says, “the slaves would clean and maintain the vomitoriums every day. Being a slave was very difficult: their average life expectancy was barely twenty one years.” 

Bee and I are disgusted. When we look at a the petrified body of a young male, now encased in a glass enclosure, his arms in the air in his last moments to protect himself from volcanic lava, we are speechless. We are looking at a young man who had a literal shit life. Covered by nine feet of ash, as his body decomposed, he and others apparently left a perfectly formed hollow in the ash. Historians injected the hollow with plaster, thereby recreating the position of his body, including his terrified facial expression.

“Jesus Christ, Bee, can you imagine being so misused that he would have probably died before he was even an adult?”

Bee looks very serious. “We are so lucky, Casey. Sometimes we don’t know how lucky we are.”

Pompeii is now a calcified city. Although the roads are crusted mud it’s clear they were impressively organized, leading to separate areas of banks, merchants, and elaborate homes for the privileged ruling class. There are few physical structures, of course, but it is not hard to have a sense of how the city operated.

At the time of the eruption, this was a wealthy Roman trading town, famous for its fish sauce and grand villas.  Although there was a day’s warning and many residents had time to flee, many did not. The eruption came fast and furious, lasting nineteen hours. Pliny the Younger, circa A.D. 97 to 109, documented the terror: 

"You could hear women lamenting, children crying, men shouting. There were some so afraid that they prayed for death. Many raised their hands to the gods, and even more believed that there were no gods any longer and that this was one unending night for the world."

Mt. Vesuvius erupted with superheated ash that also rained a fiery death on several Roman cities nearby. But none was hit harder than Pompeii, which was buried in a thick layer of broiling ash in a matter of seconds. The ash killed over a thousand people instantly and buried the town nine feet deep.
Wealthy Pompeians had poured their savings into their houses.  The sophisication defied belief: rooms heated by hot air running through cavity walls and spaces under the floors,  hydraulic pumps providing running water.  From a great reservoir, water flowed invisibly through underground pipelines into drainage systems and into aqueducts supported by arches. 
Now, beneath the layers of the muddy ash  a snapshot of everyday life emerges, complete with bank receipts, graffiti, "for rent" signs, public mosaics depicting extremely graphic sex, and penis decorations on street corners.  Outside one shapely building on a main street in Pompeii, Bee and I see this piece of graffiti: "Hic bene futui," or "Here you'll get a good fuck.”
I motion to Bee to look at our tour mates, Roberta and Ellen, who have also just come across this translation. They are almost doubled over. Ellen winks at me and I know we will have a good laugh at Maria and Eddie’s kitchen later that night. 
If you've made it this far, thank you very much.
Love kj

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Crazy times, crazy world. I will never understand how this human planet can so advance scientifically and technologically and not learn or grow an inch when it comes to resolving conflicts and respecting differences. 

Here at my blog I am having a bit of an identity crisis. I am a counselor and a writer and a teacher. All of that is what I want my blog to be. But I am a daughter and a mother and a partner and a friend too, and surely there's room here too for my personal large and small triumphs and troubles. 

Surely I want to tell more stories and write more poems. 

The last few months have been a whirlwind of surgery and high finance and worries and (thank god) simple joys. My blog and my writing has taken a back seat:

What can I tell you?

Of course the world is turned upside down:

Wars and worries wear thin

Even though the seams.

But the sweater of my years is knitted tight,

Weathered wool that softens and warms 

The prickliest skin.

I’ve worn this sweater at every turn,

Even through the nighttime shakes;

Until then, never did the chill

Overtake me.

But lately until then is too often still now

Although I am better. 

And this I know:

with better comes hope

And hope is the earned warmth

Of days to come.

With love
& together strong,