The Uphill Slide

There is always something.



It’s insidious. Creeping into crevices where it can find a foothold. I feel that painful emotion more for those who hurt people I care for than for myself. I told my physically abused friend it was OK to hate. She doesn’t. Me neither. Or maybe it’s just flashes of hate that flicker and die. Maybe she understood that person was damaged and hates his actions. Or maybe he just wore her down. I don’t know. I understood though.

A belief system, not easy to stick to. Detours along the way. I abhor hate. Love fellowmen and women, in theory anyway. Or even just respect. But you can find some writing somewhere telling you hate’s OK. Can you love that person who hates? Can you love that person whose ideas are so diametrically opposed to yours? Can you love that person who hurts you with a purposeful deliberateness? Tries to suck out your soul? Flashes of hate try to invade. Give in to it? But then it’s like depression, feeding on itself. Destroying yourself. The platitudes spot on. The murdered and the murderer. Both destroyed. But then one of those has the chance for redemption.

Hate feels as good as love for some, like this narcissist (others call him a narcissistic sociopath) whose blog I was reading. He thrives on getting those emotions from his targets, his victims. Inevitably he turns on each victim. Maybe keeping one around while courting others. Double duty. Love and hate. He gets as much thrill from that look of hurt as he does from the look of love. He admits it. It’s about taking your emotions that you give readily. Difference? Some emotions are painful and others joyful. They’re all the same for him. He doesn’t pick just anyone. He is looking for that person with empathy and compassion because he lacks those emotions. And that will be the person to trust him. He doesn’t love but he knows how to make you think he does. He knows how to make you think he feels it all. He’s just like you, the victim. Chameleon. Copycat. Repeats your words and emotions. He flatters and his courtship is usually quick. Sudden confession of love and flattery about how he’s always noticed you. Is it magic or hypnotism for a seemingly intelligent rational person to fall for him? He doesn’t lack for victims. I think this guy could tell you all the ugly and still have you fall for it. Is it that you can’t believe in evil? Or is it the savior complex? He just needs love. And even after destruction, the victim sometimes keeps coming back or he goes back for seconds. He is scary evil. Yet he has millions of followers. The one he hates most is the one who does finally recognize him. Or just a challenge?

As I read this guy’s blog who is the awesome combination of intelligent and self-aware, and feels disdain for those narcissists who can’t quite figure themselves out; I had sluggish enlightenment. I’m giving this narcissist dude what he needs. Following his words. I was lured by this anonymous writer who is pain incarnate. Damned, he was good. And he’s selling books on Amazon. We are not safe, and he’s not alone. He’s not just in men. He could be a woman. His targets might not even be lovers. It might be friends. It might be anyone. Isn’t it better to know the devil though? So I read what he had to say. But in the word of President Trump, sad. We still probably won’t recognize him until too late. So sad.

And how did I get here? Life and the news is making me crazy. A 20 year-old with hate enough to kill. Another young man planning a bomb to kill in Oklahoma City. How did they develop such intense hate? Why don’t we recognize their capabilities? Is there no one close enough to see them? But why can’t we recognize that narcissist or sociopath or psychopath until after the fact? Are they actually the fittest of society with a chameleon-like exterior? If they are the fittest, then what would it be like in a whole society of such personality types. It wouldn’t work, because like the Highlander; there could be only one.

I told my son last night that I was scared. That narcissist is a scary dude and not alone. I drove around the battlefields. Battlefields in cornfields. There are ghosts. They were us fighting right here. Fighting each other to the death. A country divided. Is it about beliefs or is it just hate?

Rambles about hate and fear. Embrace it or fight it. But what if you backed me into the corner to stand for something I believe?



There’s Always A Next Time. Hopefully, Maybe. Assuredly! No Doubt!

This is what my bed looks like now that I’m home. Last night, all just shoved onto the floor. Now I’m constructing a stack of brochures for planning. No. Maybe. Yes! When? Fall, spring, next summer. Then, searching for the little presents I bought family. Of course I bought a couple of things for myself. Dangling pewter horse earrings that I’ve worn the last couple of days. And cardboard glasses all around for the eclipse next week. I thought today was the 21st, and I had missed it. Thank god I had skipped ahead too fast. Glasses for $2.00 at the NASA Visitor Center at Wallops Island. Sweats with an iron-on Chincoteague down the side. And, a multi-colored woven hat from Peru. OK. I didn’t make it quite that far. But I did buy it in Berlin. No. Not Berlin, Germany, Berlin, Maryland. A town with a good, thin crust, just a tiny bit spicy, pizza. And a woman working the thrift shop who was a retired school teacher. (I seem to have a lifetime of school teachers surrounding me.) We swapped stories. And then I got a blue/green/beige bouncy Harlequin-designed skirt.

There seems always to be this let down after vacation. That unshakeable lingering feeling of wishing you were somewhere else. But this time, no let down. Maybe, because I know it’s not over. Trips of hours, days or weeks. Maybe not with ocean and wild horses in salt marshes or salt water washing over me. Maybe no midnight walks to watch fishermen on the docks or listen to the wheels of skateboards on sidewalks in the night. Maybe not a cup of the some of the best crab soups or fresh oysters. But something else. So today not a letdown, just a respite until the next time.

I cleaned the car of sand and mud. Turned my tent inside out to shake out the mud that had dried to dirt. Then stuffed it back into the little bags to wait their turn.




I slept my last night, not out under the moon and stars, but under a triangular billboard at the Motel 6 in Hagerstown MD that offered me a senior discount.  I never get tired of people telling me I don’t look that age. Why should I? I owe it all to my maternal genes. But even better than having people tell me I don’t look my age would be to hear them utter, or mutter perhaps, that I don’t act my age. My philosophy: Act your age in word and deed towards others. Don’t act your age in thought or activities. Act young and think young. Open your mind and body to trying new things and considering new ideas. And to the ski instructor who works at a surf shop outside Assateague Island National Seashore in the summer and at Seven Springs in the winter, here I come for those lessons that you’ve given to people from 3 to 90. She assured me I’m not too old and when I said I didn’t want to run into a tree, she said I’d have a story. I would. One you might hear about.

I left my cousins in Charles Town WV after the earlier sightseeing trip to Blackwater Falls State Park. Awesome. They mentioned other places that I wrote in my little red book. Places to see. I wanted to spend some time before heading north in Harper’s Ferry, but it started to pour. By arrival on brick streets, it had ceased fire and left only moist air. I’ve been there before. Harpers Ferry WV. My honeymoon over 33 years ago. It’s not that I remember that visit. It’s documented in a photo with an umbrella, so it was raining then too. I love the rain. I was also there the night before last when my cousins drove me through the town of history and current day residents. We stopped on top of a hill overlooking the Potomac and railroad tracks passing through a tunnel. A photogenic scene. Also the site of their honeymoon night at the Hilltop House. A hotel now closed but awaiting approvals for renovations. Breathtaking spot of beauty and overlooking a tragic history.

But down below in the town, I climbed steps of shale or slate to people congregated in front of Chapel of St. Peter’s praying to see inside. Instead it was the Ghost Tour of Harper’s Ferry led by a ghost or simply a man dressed in uniform of the mid 1800’s. Too late for me to join the tour, but I have my own ghosts that may even include some who passed through Harper’s Ferry during years of the Civil War.


I just want a kayak.

Eating a flatbread with crabmeat and shrimp and cheese on the main drag of a historic port town in Maryland, the quiet disturbed with revving engines of motorcycles up and down the street.

A block away were rows of parked bikes. I stopped to ask a couple of 50ish guys who had just parked their two wheels why so many bikers at this rustic bar and grill along the water. He said, “You know we just like to get out and ride and stop for a drink. And here we can watch the girls too.” “And the boats on the water too,” I said. He laughed.

I watched them, mostly older white men, a few with women holding on. One woman dressed in a bright pink jacket on her own bike. The waiter said it turned into a biker bar about a year ago. ‘No colors’ but sometimes trouble.

Here was the proof of Harley’s lament in one small microcosm of a Maryland town. Millennials aren’t buying their products. I might make a fortune if I were the ad-woman to come up with a targeted sales pitch for millennials and women.

But I just want a kayak.



Rory called this vacation my journey. I’ve never felt particularly brave or adventurous and didn’t want to travel alone, but why wait any longer? And I realized there are others to meet-up with on journeys. Each new thing, however small, feeling like an accomplishment. Like learning to walk and talk.

Rory was a stranger who saw a lone woman drive into the campground along Pequea Creek. She also a woman alone dropped off by her daughter who had left her to rock climb. Rory was biking about 7 miles the next day to meet her. Not far to bike except this ride not on the relatively smooth flat trails. Her ride was on narrow and hilly and winding Lancaster County roads where she might pass cars, other bikers or horses and buggies.

She asked if I wanted help to put up my tent. I didn’t want to be rude but needed to do this first night alone. I said, “No.” No can often be the hardest word. “Come over if you get bored,” she said. Not bored, but I joined her. She was married but her husband didn’t like to camp and was playing a gig. So she was doing her own thing.

It poured buckets that first night. I slept on a water-bed feeling the squishy movement beneath hoping the tent didn’t leak and the creek didn’t rise. I stayed dry with only the corners wet from rain running down into the tent because I hadn’t pulled them taut to funnel the rain away. It felt providential to hear the wind and rain above me and be sheltered. Rory visited me in the morning. Her tent leaked after 15 years. She suggested a picture to document the beginning of my journey. My neighbor, Kelvin, poured me a cup of coffee and told me of a childhood vacation in a tent with his sleeping bag on a lawn chair to keep above the inches of water in the tent. He was from West Virginia working on the power plant and staying in this campground in a big-ass trailer pulled by his big-ass pick-up, dragging his Harley and coddling his Rottweiler. All the creature comforts of home. But to hear him talk, working just to make payments on everything but the dog. Also a big-ass dog who jumped on me with muddy paws and could count. Bark once for one treat, two barks for two and on. Smart boy. Kelvin was of one of several workers spending their per diem on trailers and campground fees. Not a good life working away from home he said. Three divorces. One marriage only lasting weeks.

So far, so good on tenting life. I just need a wider blow-up mattress and a pillow from home.




The Whirling Dervish

There’s an intruder in my apartment. A squatter. Uninvited. A long-legged voyeur claiming a corner. He moved in about four days ago from who knows where. He’s quiet and unobtrusive and seems never to move from his aerie. Today I thought perhaps he had died, so I touched one of his eight legs ever so lightly. He began spinning like a whirling dervish though I have never actually seen one. Slowly he settled back into position staring down at me in my wet soapy nakedness.


Does Any of This Mean Anything?

On my Road Trip — a bathroom stall with two full rolls of toilet paper on the spindles and an almost empty one laying on top. Which one do you use?

And on that train of thought, do you replace the empty roll on the holder or just put the new roll on top or on the floor?

Do you throw away that last sliver of soap, soap-glue it to the new bar or leave it laying on the shower floor to wash away?

If you stay at a hotel that gives you little bottles of toiletries, do you take them when you check out or leave them?

If you leave partially filled bottles, does the cleaning person pitch them or take them home?

Do you recycle everything you possibly can, a few things or nothing?

Do you buy the cheapest plastic item that will soon break or one that costs more and will last longer?

Do you pick up trash on your sidewalk or driveway or pray a gust of wind takes it down the road to the neighbor’s house?

Do you save a spoonful of leftovers or toss them? Or just give them to your dog?

Do you wash out the plastic container filled with moldy food or throw container and all away as a loss?

Do you eat the tiny pieces of potato chips or just throw them away with the bag?

Do you eat the crust at the ends of the store-bought (The crusts from home-made bread don’t count.) bread or throw them away?

Do you honor the 10-second rule on dropped food or put it in the garbage?

Do you take a refill on a drink at the restaurant knowing you won’t drink it?

Do you pick up a penny you dropped or just leave it on the ground as pretty much worthless?

Do you imagine new uses for old things?

Do you hold fast to what you paid for something or consider it a sunk cost at some point?

Does any of this mean anything? Does it reveal you as thrifty or wasteful. Dull or inventive? Energetic or complacent? Optimist or pessimist? Do any of these things reveal you? Is your choice environmental or heredity?


Road Trip

A mention by a friend of a site in Ohio drove me on a road trip Sunday and Monday. An early opportunity to pop my tent up. I exited at the sign for the KOA near a popular lake. “I need a tent site for one.”

“Do you just want me to sign you in or quote you a price?”

“How much is it?” I asked. One price for a primitive site and more for a site with electric. Both gave me sticker shock. I said what I always say when I don’t want to be rude and scream out “Are you crazy?” Instead, “I’ll think about it.”

“There’ll be someplace closer to the city,” I thought. I parked in downtown Columbus and decided to eat and walk for a while before setting up camp. As I sweated the high sun in the sky, I decided to find the campground. I drove until my GPS brought me to a barricaded road. Try a different route. Always bringing me to the same barricade and driving in bigger and bigger circles. Cut off by the interstate or dead-end streets. This must be an ill-fated night for sleeping under the stars or the dark sky. A motel down the road would have to do.

I considered as I passed the casino that I could just gamble the night away, but no. I kept driving feeling as if the night was getting old. A small motel in a small town. The price only $2 more than that primitive tent site. It seemed preposterous. But it’s apples to oranges so maybe it makes some sense. The clerk handed me the key with the hard plastic fob and a TV remote. I parked in front of a door with numbers so small that I had to get up within inches to make sure this was the #3 matching my key. I walked into a faded beigish-pinkish-peachy-painted room. No little bottles of shampoo in the bathroom. No plug for my curling iron. A shower head with no lever to turn it on in the room-matching beigish-pinkish-peachy tub. A microwave and refrigerator but no coffee pot with complimentary coffee packets. No security chain on the door. Only one on the connecting door to the adjoining room. I locked up and walked across the street for a drink and shampoo. When I returned I walked to the door, put in my key and turned. A man in a mask was in bed. Who is that? Did the clerk rent my room in those minutes I was gone? I realized that I had put my key in the wrong door. But wait! Did my key unlock his door or had his door been unlocked? Happily for him and especially me (How would I explain my odd almost entry to his room?), the mask was giving him a good night’s sleep, dead to the world. I moved quickly to my adjoining room and pulled the table and chair against the door. At least I would hear an intruder because I certainly couldn’t depend on the masked man coming to my rescue. And I slept the night in my electrified primitive room lulled by the sound of the television and air conditioner.




My friend recommended a movie to me. Sea of Trees with Matthew McConaughey, Naomi Watts and Ken Watanabe. Uplifting she said. A suicidal man came to die and left to live. He found his legacy in the Aokigahara forest.

As we walk I point out and name flowers to my grandson. I am leaving a legacy of knowledge about the plants and me.

And by the way, my favorite color is orange and my favorite season is summer.

Rain lilies. Christmas cactus.


Rain lilies from a neighbor given to my mother and passed to me. Their demands in life few. Ignored all winter. Water and sun in spring to produce long slender rockets of pink buds rising above narrow green leaves. Opening to simple pink blooms.

The Christmas cactus a legacy from my first sister-in-law. Stripped of its leaves last summer by my grandson as he played out of my sight on the porch. It would not die. Strength and resilience. New leaves sprang from its stems. It will bloom again.


Time Passes (a) Quickly (b) Slowly

60 seconds in a minute

60 minutes in an hour

24 hours in a day

The measure always the same. Yesterday I awoke before my alarm. I didn’t get up. Instead I lay there dozing but waking every so often, anticipating the alarm.

Why is it that the passage of time can feel so different? A minute not always a minute. A verdict so cruelly announcing ‘Not guilty’ suddenly switching to ‘Guilty’. Birth of a grandchild. Vacation come and gone. Ride on the roller coaster. The dentist’s chair. A collision of two cars. Years in jail for the wrongfully accused. Death. The passage of time measured in events. How can the same length of time feel both long and short?

Where did the time go? It’ll be over in a second. Just a minute. Time will pass quickly. Time heals all wounds. Time is your friend. Time is not your friend. Give it time.

We are able to control time in our minds with anticipation and apprehension. When will we be able to actually alter time?