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  • “I am not into exercise. If God wanted me to bend over he would put diamonds on the floor.”

    Joan Rivers

    “I hate housework! You make the beds, you do the dishes and six months later you have to start all over again.”

    Diddo

    I can hear her voice, her inflections. Can you? Yes! She is still alive on re-runs of Ed Sullivan and she is young and honing her craft. She was the first woman to have her own talk show! Yes! When she looked into the camera and said “Can we talk?” she was looking at me, each of us, and “we” meant the two of us: me and Joan. She was the ultimate girlfriend.

    Remember her on QVC? Yes! I bought from her jewelry line; mostly the Bee Series. They have sayings on the back, you know. Encouraging things like: Be Kind or Be Generous.

    Imagine the jokes she would have made over her dying while getting more plastic surgery. I heard she had passed and the shock was hot on my brain “Oh No!” but then I heard how she had gone, I couldn’t help laughing, even when I had started to cry. I like to think Joan would have approved of my reaction.

    Three Words New to Me

    cerulean… Meaning: a deep blue color… as in a cerulean sky.

    suigeneris…(also correct: sui generis)… Meaning: unique. in Latin, literally “of it’s own kind.”

    fetch… (besides the usual meaning1: go and get something or leave and return with something) Meaning2: cause a blow as in a slap. Meaning3: bring forth, as in blood or tears. Meaning4: delight in/great interest/sexual turn on.

    FETCH OF THE WIND

    This last word I read in the context of “fetch of the wind” and I wondered at the writer’s exact meaning. (The book will be out next year.)

    This book’s author, I happen to know, reaches for multiple meanings to his phrases and a hidden double entendre will make him giddy. I imagine him on the Mississippi River, paddling his kayak, alone, in bad weather and his mind wonders. He pictures himself back home, clacking on his computer, dry and warm in his office, hearing a Roy Clark cd and not the hostile waves on his kayak hood.

    He sees himself type “fetch of the wind” and vows to remember that phrase because it’s perfect. His face is being slapped by the wind and he is nearly crying from it; he is excited to be exactly in this place, at this moment and stiff with the fetch of being alive; he is delighted enough to recall the experience when he is older and feeling less than virial.

    “I took that journey and survived. I can be proud that I challenged myself and preformed like a man ought.” That, anyway, is what I imagine his thoughts to be, since otherwise, why write of it?

    #

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  • One year ago today, Halloween morning, I was either visited by a ghost or had a common Night Terror.

    Night Terrors, or Waking Dreams, also called a False Waking, are caused by an interruption of REM sleep. These sensations are not uncommon and feel as true as Real Life. Often there is a sense of waking up, sleeping again, possibly several experiences of this in one episode.

    Here’s how it went: I was sleeping in my bed, yes, alone. What was I wearing?? Geeze. What single women wear: favorite ratty t-shirt, old sweatpants cut into shorts. But my head was deep into the quilt and my face covered. I was suddenly wakened by a feeling that someone else was in the room.

    Moving my head from beneath the covers, I looked up. An old man was at the bedside. He looked down at me, a quizzical expression and inarticulate.

    He looked like this: though he wore a dark suit, white shirt and conservative dark tie, all his clothing was worn at the edges, ripped in places, covered in dirt and grassy bits hung off him. He held out one hand toward me. It was part bone and part flesh. Soil covered his fingertips. His face was the same; the skull showed white to one side but dripping on the other side was the remains of skin, muscular fiber and more dirt. Something moved but it was only a small worm.

    It seemed to me that the old man was just as shocked to see me pop out from the bedding as I was to discover him hanging over me. He lurched backward and what was left of his mouth made an O shape. I called out “Ahhwk!” but we held eye contact, well, he had one eye and it looked to be cataract ridden, but we stared at one another, trying to make sense of what we each saw.

    Clearly, I was not who he expected.

    The room around him was fully lit. I thought this was odd, since my blackout curtains were drawn. Wondering the time, I turned around and gave the old man my back, and was surprised that it was 3:37 a.m. Afraid to look back at my visitor, I hesitated. I wondered why this side of my bedroom would be pitch dark but the other fully lit? To answer that question, I did turn back toward the old man.

    Yes, he had disappeared.

    I slept again. When I woke, I crept cautiously around my condo, determining if he was anywhere else, waiting for me. Livingroom? No. Kitchen? No. Neither bathroom and by then I was thinking I’d dreamed it. Too many zombie movies before Halloween? I Googled “dreams where you think you’re awake” and got Hypnagogia.

    Or, it was Diane Ford’s husband. He died some 10 years before she did. I bought the condo, “as is” from her estate. I saw the place with their belongings still over-filling every room. The furniture was clearly brought in, decades ago, from a larger house. Diane’s floral-print house slippers were just in reach of the front door, waiting her return.

    I bought the place in 2020, on the spot; if I changed everything, I knew it was perfect for me.

    Now it’s a year since my Mr. Ford dream/experience. I don’t expect him to revisit me this year. Perhaps he knows now that his wife is not living here. Perhaps he found her someplace in between here and there. Perhaps I’m not having “neurological phenomenon” this Halloween due to better sleeping habits. Or due to not sleeping alone.

    #

  • It was after my mother’s funeral that I began having dreams of her, usually bossing me around or telling me I was doing things wrong. So life-like.

    In the very first dream I had of her, she was like she had been at about 80, before her dementia was obvious, but in retrospect, her symptoms had begun. She held out a piece of paper, flapped it at me, irritated. We stood next to a bed, and I could see that the person in the bed was also my mother, but withered and a boney characture of my mother, like she had been when she died.

    I knew that the younger Lillian thought that the woman in the bed was her mother, my grandmother. She was shaking this paper at me- words written in her hand- and insisted that I sign my name to the paper. A contract. I asked her what the paper said and sat myself on the sofa that had been hers since divorcing my dad in 1964, the sofa I slept on throughout her illness and that was now mine. The garish golden flowers needed a modern recovering. Even in my dream, I was aware of changing what had been hers to make it mine.

    Her tone was hard and demanding and she said it was a list of how I was to burry her mother and then do “the same for me when the time comes.” I didn’t say anything at first, but refused to take the paper. She shook it in my face. She was the mother of my childhood! Seldom pleased and forever scolding. Her rewards were, to me, arbitrary. I found no pattern.

    Seated in my dream, I was looking at her directly, eye to eye. It was a dark, cold pair of eyes meeting mine.

    “Mom,” I said gently, like to a child, “you’d better sit down.” Forced, but as sweet and kind as I could manage, like when she was sick and couldn’t understand how to eat with a fork anymore, I said, “This might be a shock for you.”

    She sat next to me and her face changed as she did. Now she was the woman who’s mind ticked down. My mother who became a child, then a baby. The mother who could no longer think without help, who trusted me and needed me and thanked me for helping, though she didn’t quite know who I was. She was fearful and yet aware that I was doing her good, not ill.

    I said, “Mom, that’s not your mother.”

    “It’s not?”

    “No, it’s you.”

    Understandably she was confused. “Me?”

    Touching her arm in hopes of reassurance I said, “You’re already dead, Mom. You have been for a few months now.”

    “I am?” She sounded like a bewildered child who wakes from a nightmare and the parent says: You’re awake now, Dear. Don’t be afraid. Except I was telling her: You will only dream from now on, Mom, and you are alone.

    Trying to take it in, “Really?” She searched my face for a hint of doubt.

    Next in my dream I told her I could not do what was on the paper. “It doesn’t matter anymore. It’s too late.”

    My mother changed into the post-therapy woman of around 70, confident that (finally) she had life licked, but also humbled by self-awareness. Her voice lightened and this well-version of my mother chuckled. “Well I’ll be darned!” a saying she often used and added to it a smile that said she could find the strength to bear anything, because she always had. “How about that.”

    Even when the joke was “on her” my mother could be a Good Sport. She believed that everyone (especially herself and her daughter) ought to accept cold hard facts with courage and dignity-if they were True. She was the arbitrator of Truth and Lies until she got sick, then I became the adult and told her “There’s no one stealing your teeth, Mom. I’m not poisoning you with your blood pressure pills, Mom. No Mom, you can’t use the sharp knife; let me help you with your toast.” Now, in my dream, I’m telling her she’s dead. (Or, as my therapist would say, I’m telling myself she is dead.) I wished we could have talked longer but she faded away. She took the news well and stayed dead ever since.

    #

  • “As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed into a gigantic insect.”

    Franz Kafka “The Metamorphosis”

    What I Do When I Write

    What a fantastic first sentence of a short story demonstrating a genre called Fabulation Fiction! I ran across this 20th Century Literary Criticism term when looking up something else. Turns out, it’s a match for what I myself write: memoir/fiction/sometimes-not-believed-even-when-it’s-supposed-to-be-real-life. I flesh-out the dry bones of the dead. I move time. I open Pandora’s Box. I point at ghosts.

    Fabulation is literally “wild tales”. This can be a ‘put down’ or descriptive. It’s similar to Magical Realism and to Post Modernism. (yeah, I had to look those up also. Another hole in my swiss cheese education.) My family is certainly not unique when they insist “Oh, that never happened!” because they wish for their own memory to be the truth. According to them, I tell “wild tales.”

    Robert Scholes

    As Literary Criticism, Fabulation was popularized by Robert Scholes (per Wikipedia) as a category for 20th century novels that don’t fit any place else; novels that do not fit into traditional writing.

    READING LIST (for myself)

    Giles Goat-Boy by John Barth

    Waiting For Godot by Samuel Beckett (Read this one in High School. blew my mind. Also read “Murphy” and said “I can never write this well but I must write something.”)

    White Noise by Don DeLillo

    Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (Read this one in the 80’s.)

    Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut (non-linear) (Love this guy.)

    The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles (Metafiction)

    Conclusion

    Of course, I’m NOT saying I belong on this list!! Hoho no. I’m only saying that my own writing is not always believed and thought to be made up where it’s true and where I made things up, the story passes for fact. Actually I take that as a huge compliment when people say “Well, you need to change how Grandpa died -with his head in his food at the kitchen table? Nobody will believe THAT!” or “Grandma and Grandpa having sex? At their age? Ewwew no way.” What a compliment- to them for yes, having sex as Old People. That’s how I want to go, truth be told. (Does she mean: head in a plate of food or having sex??)

    #

  • No, I don’t have an answer-YET- to my question of who wrote “Writers write.”

    Perhaps it’s like asking who first said “Peter-picked-a-peck-of-peppers”?

    Moving on: let’s play a game! It’s a Rewriting Exercise I play when I feel uninspired to write ‘real’ stuff, or if I’m waiting at the doctor’s office because she’s running late (i.e.: every time) or when I forgot to bring a book to a restaurant and I want to look busy (instead of alone). Like a lot of games, it can have a payoff in the real world. It’s possible this little goof-off tool could spark an idea and you/I actually write a short story from it! Yah. Could happen.

    OKAY- here are my rules. You don’t like my rules? Well, rule #0.1 is make your own rules if you don’t like mine. Here we go.

    • Rule #1

    Write any random sentence.

    • Rule #2

    Rewrite first sentence just below the first.

    • Rule #3

    Rewrite a third sentence just below the second. Now you are done, except to cross out the two sentences you like least. You Win!

    Here is an example:

    Bob was a womanizer.

    Bob cheated on his wife, Sally, every chance he got.

    Robert was not faithful to Sally and had no interest in being monogamous.

    (This last sentence makes me want to replace the names Robert and Sally with the names of my parents and the second/third sentence to this short story would be:

    Lillian knew this fact but stoically resolved to ignore reality. She shtuped Stan the Milkman and that helped her ego. One pound butter, two quarts cream and wouldya lay me this morning?)

    See how the game works?

    Here is another example:

    Betsy told time by the TV programs she watched each day.

    If the theme for “Gilligan’s Island” was playing, Betsy knew it was 3:00.

    The theme for “Gilligan’s Island” was half-way finished which made it 3:02, Betsy told the police when they asked her, “How are you so sure of what time you heard the gun shots, Mrs. Petroff?”

    Have Fun.

    “Rewriting is the essence of writing well.”

    William Zinsser
  • The first sentence on my blog should be spelled correctly. Truth is, I depend on SpellCheck like you wouldn’t believe. There was a time when I was ashamed of my spelling “issues” but now I push through it.

    This blog is a step on the road, like a pilgrimage, that leads to a brand for A. Charlotte Taylor. A. Charlotte Taylor knows about dogs, dog grooming and dog training. A. Charlotte Taylor writes about training pet dogs. A. Charlotte Taylor writes about the secrets in her three families: the Taylors, the Thorsells and the Pries’. For some odd reason, all these family secrets have to do with sex. So, A. Charlotte Taylor writes about sex. I am A. Charlotte Taylor and these are my stories.

    I will be making notations of famous quotes that I run across and wish to share with you. There will be times I discover a cool word and I’ll share the meaning of that word with you, expecting that, if you follow my blog, you also enjoy expanding your vocabulary. A new word is, to me, like rolling a 200 game at a bowling ally. Some day I’ll tell you the story of how I learned the word “tat”.

    Here’s a word to start with: titivate. Means, “tidy up”. I’ll use it in a sentence for you: Before my man-friend visits my condo I titivate so he doesn’t think I’m a slob. (Learned this word from my girlfriend in Port Townsend, WA. Thanks, Allegra.)

    Well, that’s enough for my first post. Next time I’ll include a quote from someone famous and there will be a fun writing game which I made up for myself. I’ll share it so you can play too.

    Writers write.

    Who said that?? I’ll look it up.