The Uphill Slide

There is always something.


That’s Asinine!

“That’s asinine,” I texted. It was. Nonsense. But the rule-setters thought it was sensible. “Asinine.” The word of my day. Flair with a wisp of crudeness. Insulting. Joking. Use your head!

Asinine. The story Jacob’s accuser told of that first incident. A small house with two bedrooms and an irregularly small opening to the bathroom. That room part of another story. The bedrooms and bathroom pulled together by a hall, almost touching each other. Rolling into the living room that is just a few feet away from those doorways. You could stand in the hall way spinning and touching the openings.

Dead sober witnesses sleeping and not sleeping only a few feet away from the open master bedroom. Part of the room visible from angles of the living room. Rooms where sounds carry from one room to the other. A master bedroom where sounds travel up and down through the register. The sort of place where you turn the water on in the bathroom sink to cover sounds on the toilet carrying outside. I can picture the scenario in my mind. The police can’t. They walked through the living room to the basement. They didn’t visit the bedrooms or bathroom. The ADA can’t. He was never there and only saw the defense photos.

I turned on NCIS Season 1 Episode 1. Of course it’s a murder crime scene. “Kate” (Sasha Alexander) has taken photos. “Tony” (Michael Weatherly) grabs a magazine with a scantily clad girl and asks what her bust size is. Can you tell from that photo? A photo has limits. And if you’re like me, you are dimensionally challenged. Even the straight line. How far is 500 yards? Point out where that is from where I’m standing.

A picture is not worth a thousand words. Maybe for the photographer. And if the photographer is truly gifted, maybe viewers could write or speak a thousand words about it. Not these photos. They needed a truly gifted story-teller to bring the photo to life for 12 people deciding credibility.

Needed: road trip, diorama or a better advocate who can speak a 1000 words on one photo. The person to make people question. To point out asininity.


Don’t Get Cocky

Facebook never fails to feed fodder.

A community wants to give Narcan to every citizen to use as needed. Will you take it? Will you use it? Are you willing to save a life? The answers? Yes’s. Lots of no’s. Judgmental and fearful. Dangerous to touch someone using heroin with Fentanyl. Sued for improper use. Sued by the suicidal addict. The addict is throw-away. Wants to be an addict. The unappreciative addict. Better to carry the Epi pen or insulin to administer. People needing that drug will be appreciative. They deserve to live.

If I develop lung cancer or other cancers, should you treat me? I may have contributed to my disease by smoking or eating unhealthy or not slathering sunblock on my skin. So many bad habits. I knew it was wrong. I just didn’t care at that moment. Sometimes I just don’t have the willpower. I’m weak. I eat the candy bar and the restaurant meal that delivers all my daily calories in one sitting. I don’t push-off from the couch to exercise. I make excuses. I’m weak-willed. My emotional state leads me to bad habits. Always looking for that brain high from my bad habit.

Some employers are charging employee smokers higher premiums. Life insurance carriers ask, “Smoker?” They may even deny you coverage with certain diseases. Your family doesn’t deserve money for your bad habits. Insurers know everyone is going to die, but statistically, you may die sooner. They won’t be able to collect enough premiums before your death. If they can’t profit from your life, then no one gets to profit from your death.

Maybe it’s better to save money and let the addict die. A drain on a community, on society. Millions spent in one small West Virginia community according to the Netflix documentary HEROIN(E). They know the cost, and they’re willing to spend it.

So I’m judgmental too. Of all those no’s. And a commenter hit the mark. This is just a treatment like insulin and the Epi pen. Look for the causes.


Lookee! Lookee!

“I’ll buy you a Cadillac,” he said. “Why?

There sat one. The powerful big honking truck. Glinting grey. Polished and chromed. Decals clinging to the side window. Plates screwed on the front. A shark teeth? mouth biting the side. I said, “Lookee!” My daughter responded ‘Embarrassment’.

Mobile modern art. Stylin’. Like my purse or earrings talking softly. But this? Passionately screaming, “Lookee, lookee!” Like my braless college roommate in hot pants bouncing and swaying to the dining hall while I, the divergent, marching strapped in bra and jeans.

Apricot. Blue and White. Silver. Black. White. Bright blue. Red. The big honking truck. A man’s vehicle. Sexist? Just statistically male owners I judge. Or co-mingled with a car in a marriage of vehicle convenience. I like the big honking truck. The motion of grabbing the door and pulling my weight up and sliding my body into the seat. Roaring down the road above it all except for the tractor-trailer drivers who can still look into my lap. Bursting ahead of the pack. I want a big honking truck. But I want a car too. For the duality of life. The dichotomy of purpose. I’m a Gemini. I have two voices trying to drown each other out. Buy this! No, that!

One winter’s day I drove the big honking truck to work and parked in the small lot for all to see. And the men came out to admire as if I had won the lottery of the open road. The climb up curvy dirt mountain roads. The bumpy ride over rocks. The splash through mud and water. Pulling its weight. Carrying the burden. Fulfilling its promises. These men were big honking truck drivers too.

I’ll never buy the big honking truck unless I do win the lottery. It will be bright red or shiny black. And to park beside it? An older Jaguar. The car I’ve always yearned for. As much as I yearn for any vehicle. But this one with the cat lunging forward ready to overtake. I want it. No clue why. Is it genetic? Was I a cat running and clawing through a earlier life? I’ve never driven or ridden in one. So why, oh why? Some deep repressed memory linked to desire?


It’s Nothing

Boots has crystals in the urine. My mom had the same. A couple of times. She needs a special diet. Special meaning expensive. Not my mom. Boots. I took responsibility when her future seemed in doubt. Financial responsibility like child support. She can’t live with me. I love her though she can be quite the needy pain in the ass. But she warms my heart when she gives me that hug and in-your-face attention. Quite literally a hug with paws around my neck. But then I want her to quit. She has trouble quitting. Separation anxiety. I have to be quite stern to get her off me.

But darn it. No more trouble. I don’t want to be needed anymore. I want to focus only on my needs now. Just stop it. Stop giving me more responsibility for care and feeding. Everyone take a piece of responsibility and pass it around.

But hey, This is just a little pity party for something quite insignificant. Not to Boots who is having accidents. Absolutely the worse thought to have trouble with bodily functions in old age. I say it’s time to check out when others need to wipe my butt. But who knows? I did it for my babies and my parents.

This really is nothing though. Just making a mountain out of a molehill. Happens sometimes that one thing just one thing too many. Then it all falls back into perspective. It’s nothing.


Do The Walls Have Ears? Do The Floors Have Feeling?

Sunday morning on wet grass in bare feet. Lawn and fields of crispness. As if all were neat and clean in this world. But the crisp sharp manicures mowed down the purples and golds of the late summer fields. Vernonia. Solidago. Asters. Looting something intrinsic from this landscape.

The chill numbed my feet as Boots circled on a short leash. Our six wet feet carried grass clippings from outside to the hardwoods thinking nothing of the untidiness of bringing the outside inside. For I am not a visitor to my home nor disrespectful to it. Do you think a house or objects have stories to tell or some spiritual connection to people? Knows the person who cared for it, and the ones who used it? My cousin said she loved her things around her. They carried the stories of people she loved. But only people can speak in words.

Even the cheap junk has a story. Are the stories important? They are if you really want to understand what lies beneath the shallow exterior. I have stories. Not just the square footage or the oaks or walnuts or granite or slate, although they are a story too. The story of a Severline nephew who came to a yard sale. Wood on a train from Altoona. Wallpaper over rough wood. A rocking chair. The story of an owner with troubles like ours whose face I can see in a house up the street in Worthington. The fighting cocks running loose beneath a tree and stories of illegal activities in our barn. The story of the scratch and the dent on the floor. The screw holes in the wood. The missing mirror in the attic. The unlocked window. The cornerstone hidden behind plastic. The cat scratching at the basement window. The hanging swing on an earlier porch. The smell of cat urine on a back porch. The warped wood on the basement steps. The sound of loud buzzing wasps behind aluminum. The missing wooden door and rough floor in the back basement.

And then the kids and the guests. Invited visitors. The ones who slept in our beds and left their body shapes on the sheets. The ones who bathed in the shower and dried on our towels. The ones who dined from our plates and drank from our glasses. The ones who walked through our clothes and shoes and purses nestled against cedar. The openly invited and then the secret. My house withholds stories from me. But it can’t be blamed because we shared so much. I’m not some visitor but its owner who wanted so much more for it. It just should have had better.



The same date. Plus one to the year. All dates returning without fail for the living, except that one. The one that slows the pace. If only I had been born on February 29. I would be 16 going on 17. All of life in front. I could change the past. You can’t change the past. We’re not time travelers. Not yet anyway. The good. The bad. The ugly. Live it. Use it.

September 11. A date which will live in infamy. For Americans anyway. The world has other poignant memories. Madrid. Paris. Hiroshima. Nagasaki. London. Tel Aviv. Azbakiyah. Damascus. Java. Dar es Salaam. Chiricahua Mountains. Hanoi. Darjeeling. Napnapan. Little Big Horn. Chernobyl. Bombings. Fires. Floods. Hijackings. Kidnappings. Tsunamis. Volcanoes. Tornadoes. Nuclear Reactors. Landslides. Fires. Floods. Tsunamis. Volcanoes. Tornadoes. Nuclear Reactors. Landslides. Bombings. Volcanoes. Kidnappings. Genocides. Keeps repeating. Like dates. Shared with some and forgotten by others. Dates that will gather dust and be forgotten. School children trying to remember dates without any real passion for them.

September 11. A day of devastation and death propagated by human beings that instilled many with a new robust understanding of fear and hate. Two sides of hate. They for us, and us for them. We propagated hate to that directed attack. And now natural disaster. Winds and rain killing and robbing as if nature hated us humans. Or maybe it’s angry with us. If you believe climate change, then the storms are beating their breasts in fury with us. But there are conspiracy theorists too with other ideas. Suggesting Machiavellis among us or maybe just plain old psychopaths. Not the simple denial and ignorance and disregard with climate change. The manipulation and use of nature. Not in a good way. Humans vs. nature. Humans may win but they really lose. The paradox of getting what you want and realizing it isn’t at all what you wanted.

Harvey was a planned attack. Are these theorists crazy? Or do they see the things that mainstream deniers don’t? It is true that we tend to call people crazy that see what we don’t. Maybe. Maybe not.

And then I have very intimate memories of this date. It’s a wedding anniversary. A happy event bloodied in hindsight with my husband’s lies. “I’m not going to go and pretend,” he said. A lie within a lie like a pretty little matryoshka doll.

Feeding monsters’ egos with memories.

And this September 11? Writing out a card. Watching Facebook check-ins of friends in Florida. Safe. No electric. Listening to pounding rains and roaring winds. Safe.




You must use the potty now. You’re three. Repeat from 27 years ago. Who knew I be involved in that again?

A fashion statement with cartoon characters and days of the week written on the butt. Entertaining and educational. Caleb came to me and said matter-of-factly, “I peed Grammy.” “Good job,” I proudly cheered him. Then I stepped in the puddle on the laminate floor. “You must tell us when you  need to use the potty. OK?” I said. Later that same night. Another puddle on the ceramic tile. This was going to take some time. Lack of control or using his control over us? But it didn’t take long. He just suddenly had it. Amazing.

Then Jacob called to report that Boots was having accidents. Peed on the stone floor in the back room. Peed in the bedroom. Peed on the living room floor that dripped through the hardwoods to the basement. The innocent cats got the blame. Marking their territory on new carpetless floors. But Boots was caught red-handed then.

Behavioral or physical? Jealousy or UTI? “Bring a urine sample,” the tech said. She suggested using a frisbee. Ingenious.



Me? Savvy?

Yesterday someone called me savvy. Commonsense. Good judgment. Shrewdness. I only wished that I believed I was the person he saw. He called me intelligent another day. His compliments, because I consider them compliments, made me suspicious of manipulation. Did he see me that way or was he playing me? Because I hadn’t recognized manipulation in the past, I looked for it in the present. So that’s where I am. Suspicious. Words can’t be trusted. Honesty can’t be relied upon. That’s where I am now. Because if any of those compliments were true, how did I get here? By ignoring those very things. The explanation is that many of us embody both the synonyms and antonyms of our description.

Fortunately for me, I don’t see every man as having an agenda and untrustworthy. But that man giving compliments, he has an agenda. I know that. Maybe he’s right. I’m savvy to recognize his agenda. Despite any inclination to lump en mass, can’t be done. Huge mistake. No group embodies all those abhorrent bad qualities of an individual. Pretty soon I’d need to place the human race en mass into the arena. Then there’d only be me after placing everyone in their group. It’s one for all, and all for one. And where does that leave me then? Which group am I in? Intersecting a bunch. Instead, just use your savvy to recognize the individual speaking with forked tongue and the one speaking with guile as a straight shooter. They both fool you.

Won’t get fooled again? Of course you can, and probably will. Be prepared. Be savvy.



Honestly, that song by The Who written by Pete Townshend reminds me not so much of my life except in its title. It’s about the world.



My daughter and I were telling stories, remembering. She reminded me of one early morning a decade past. I was in the kitchen drinking coffee before work when she came in the house. “Where were you?” I reportedly asked her. “I couldn’t sleep and went for a ride,” she answered.

I didn’t believe her and said as much. But I couldn’t prove that wasn’t true. I gave her the benefit of the doubt.

But I told her father. His advice when he saw her later in the garage, “Keep it in your pants.”

Never give advice you can’t follow yourself. Sooner or later, that teenager will call you out for being a fraud.

Her advice to me? Don’t give the benefit of the doubt! You gut’s probably being your best friend.

Comments Off on This is America

This is America

I walked along the busway in Wilkinsburg taking breakdown photos of murals, some of the best street art in the city. But peeling in places, impermanent in the elements. I ended up at a gazebo. I circled around taking photos of the mural on the walls surrounding it on three sides. There were three people sitting on the benches of the gazebo with their backs to me. A man and two women. Another man walked up, and the younger woman got up and walked to steps leading to the busway. The man who had just come hurled profanity at her and lewd words, the ones that always refer to the sex act in the way meant to insult. She said nothing and kept walking. He started then on the other woman sitting there. This time about race. Perhaps he knew her too. I couldn’t hear if she said anything back to him in defense. When I finished, I sat down. This angry man stood up a few minutes later saying he didn’t want to be in any pictures. He wasn’t talking to me, but about me. I called out that I wasn’t photographing him, feeling as if I needed to defend myself against untruth. He said something in response as he walked away. I didn’t catch it. The other woman mouthed words to me about him that I couldn’t read on her lips. The man now was above us standing along a fence still trash-talking an assault of complaints against people and things. The other woman left as I sat reading, waiting for the time to pass. The man returned to his seat, still angry. Then he telephoned someone to tell him about the people of Wilkinsburg. “So much drama to deal with,” he said. He swore against the ‘foreigner’ at the convenience store who dared tell him he couldn’t smoke outside their doors. After all, “this was America,” he reasoned. That ‘foreigner’ collecting government benefits that this angry man couldn’t even get dared tell him not to smoke. I couldn’t concentrate on my book because his loud voice was shoving its way into my head forcing me to listen. So I hid in the pages of the book. Then he walked away with his ugly words fading out and only into the head of the person at the other end of that call.

The man’s anger scared me. He came with it and left with it. Not even exhausted by his words. I’ve seen his face (not literally his) and listened as lewd words and profanity spill out incited by some random small event. And his reasons for anger reminded me of this country. Being told by some ‘foreigner’ where to smoke. That ‘foreigner’, that person who doesn’t belong collecting on the ‘American dream’. Groups or people getting the blame for all the wrongs of this country. It would all be so perfect if they would just go away, and we could turn back the clock.

And why didn’t I walk away? Because I was just simply in the path of an angry man looking to transfer or expel his anger. I hadn’t done anything to invoke his anger. I think he got only one thing right in his tirade. This is America.