Thursday, December 18, 2008

Marcie's Mourning

I have tried stepping away for a while, but my need to post and reflect and speak of and to and about Marcie has not faded. Some of the things I have not spoken of before include our conversations as the last few months slowly crawled by.

They were painful at times, but I can now recall them and understand how they made her so beautiful.

Marcie mourned her own life very briefly. But what she mourned the longest was her impact in her leaving us behind. That conversation came into play during her more somber times, when life was not much to be celebrated and all my efforts could not cheer her up.

But they always seemed to take great weight from her.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A longer road than I wanted

It has been a busy season, for sure. I have started a business, begun preparations for a move and also started selling things from our home. After working from a computer screen all day, it is hard to simply tack Marcie on.

Work behind the scenes continues on her book and my trip. We'll see how the financial situation out there looks when the time is nigh. In the mean time, I have planned to spread her ashes in special places locally, as well.

I will post a thought and maybe a poem for each when I undertake them.

For now, I look out on a world once filled with her and more beautiful for it, still beautiful but so much less without her. I do not look forward to each day, but I no longer dread them.

That's an improvement.

With love,


Sunday, November 23, 2008

A day in the sun...

I was recently returned a flash memory card with some precious memories on it. I decided that I would share Marcie's joy at a trip kindly provided by our friends Walt and Lisa Soto... out along the California Coast, sailing.

It was a beautiful and enjoyable day, and a perfect one for Marcie, whose taste buds were finally ready for regular food again.

We were definitely in a recovery mode, and she was so tired but strong and pleased with the end of chemo and the beginning of what she thought would be a simple recovery.

For now, though... her joy, as I captured it in pictures, and our friends. Also, a picture of a marine mammal and his harem, as she demanded I get a shot or two...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Letter to Marcie - Wisdom in Forgiveness

Dear Beloved,

I have been rummaging through gifts, reflecting on all of those you gave me. Some of them are more abstract, and this one no less so, perhaps moreso, than any other. You taught me to forgive again.

I do not know where I had learned to never trust anyone, or to take every offense as some permanent black stain that could never be removed, but when we met, it was how I was. With your example, and your encouragement, I can honestly say this is no more

Perhaps it was the vast echo chamber of my sprawling family, where first mention of a given offense by someone may not be heard in all corners for years. Even then, notoriety was easily created as exaggeration replaced information. But some in my family were more forgiving than begrudging.

Perhaps it was in my upbringing at Catholic school, where a permanent record meant yearly carryover of every demerit. Or perhaps in foster care, where every element of behavior, once written down, became a guide for every person who touched your life, or passed you along to the next.

Perhaps it was in receiving too many wounds too quickly to heal them all. A backlog of bitterness, a pattern of pain conditioning me beyond my ability to analyze it and release it all.

But all the Christian upbringing in the world did not help me forgive, but in fact taught me more to note offense.

I don't know why it was how I was. I do know you could not understand it, but the first thing you chose to do was forgive me for it.

"You are being so ridiculous," you said. "You know, you really need to let things go. People make mistakes."

I know I did, and you pointed that out rather directly. Of course, I was pondering the loss of $500 at a friends' hand over a computer that did not work. I had known him for a year or so, and had decided he was no friend. Worse, his private disclosures were now reason to hold in that anger.

"I know he had meth problems," I said. "A few years ago. Maybe he ripped me off for that. At least he could pretend to want to help me out and cover his tracks."

You looked at me and sat down, you kissed my cheek. "He'll come help," you said. "But you can't be upset all weekend. You're ruining my time with you."

So I learned to let go in the form of moving on, neither forgetting nor forgiving. But you soon picked that out when I next saw him, nearly two years on.

He was working at an airport bookstore and smiled when he saw me. He smiled and waved us over. You tugged me to the counter and greeted him.

He told us he had moved and gotten a new job, and he apologized for the computer after we had some small talk. "I needed the money to move, I am sorry, dude," he said.

I started in on him. "That was weak and it was wrong," I said. "You could have asked to borrow or maybe for some side work, right? What, were you on drugs again?"

You squeezed my arm and he looked down. He told us about losing his wife in divorce, finding her cheating and having found his own account empty and hers closed with their shared on the next day. "I was ashamed, man, I was."

I shrugged and bought you Entertainment Weekly before you boarded your plane. I was ashamed, too. You, however, showed me something important.

"That's all very sad," you said. "But he ripped you off and I am sorry he did that to you. You deserve to be treated better, sweety, and I don't think you should talk to him again."

"I thought you said I had to learn to let things go?" I said.

"Well, you should, but I also think you have a big heart and people like him take advantage of everyone they can," you said. "I never liked him or his wife, but I know I did not want you to brood and you were."

I took out his business card and tossed it into the trash. You hugged me and a few minutes later we let go so you could fly north for a visit with your friend.

I smiled and I said, "You think I have a big heart?" I asked.

You smiled and tsk'd at my attention-seeking, "Yes, I do. It's something I love about you. I just want you to strike a balance between that and being judgmental."

And I have. I spent that weekend without you reviewing an old list, yellow on its first pages and white on its newest, crossing people and the offenses they had committed against me off of it. I burned it in the barbecue while our neighbor Cami looked on.

"Wishes?" she asked. "Are you burning your wishes for the genies?"

I smiled and looked up at her. "No, I am forgiving some people I should have done that for a long time ago."

I did not tell you what I had done, and I did not tell you how many times I had not added a name to that list when you soothed my hurt and anger before I burned it.

I will tell you that I am slower to take personal offense, fast to let it go, and completely willing to accept the known risks of people's foibles, and to either include them or exclude them from my life based on that critical calculus you gave me.

"It's important to forgive people for yourself," you said. "Sometimes, you should try to forget what they did to hurt you, too. But you shouldn't always forget, because some people don't make mistakes, they're just never going to be good to you."

When you told me that, I saw that rare and absolutely heartbreaking look cross your face in a blink of an eye, and I wondered what it was you were remembering.

But I am glad I do not know, because it may have revived the list, or maybe would have been something I did that made you gulp like that. By then, I had not learned the one most important lesson of your whole outlook.

I had not learned to forgive myself.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


You were here.
I smelled your perfume around me.
I felt your warmth beside me.
I heard your voice behind me.
I tasted your lips against me.
I knew your soul as my own.
I saw your face before me.

You were mine.
I woke to you each morning.
I lived for you every day.
I ran to you each evening.
I held you every night.
I cherished every moment.

We were one.
We lived in our communion.
We loved and feared in union.
We walked beside each other.
We shared with one another.
We faced the world together.

We were strong.
Our love seemed never ending.
Our faith was unrelenting.
Our passion was unbridled.
Our bond could not be broken.
Our hearts could conquer all.

I am thankful.
Your loving touch transformed me.
Your gentle ways reformed me.
Your happy manner healed me.
Your patient probes revealed me.
Your lightness helped me soar.

I am here.
I know you are around me.
I know your warmth's beside me.
I know your voice will guide me.
I'll taste your lips against me.
I'll see your face before me.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Letter To Marcie - Cooking

To my dear Marcie,

I wanted to thank you about something I do almost every day, which I enjoy, and which I might have given up if it were not for you. Cooking.

I know, I know. I knew how to cook when we met. But you gave me the right and the appreciation for my cooking that made me wanty to cook. You inspired me to branch out, to try new vegetables, foods and tastes.

Most of all, you did not snicker when I told you I knew how to cook.

I learned how to cook passively until my early youth. Watching my father and grandma Pruett, my mother in much younger years, and my Aunt Gemma lent me a curiosity I never had the approval to pursue at home. But I watched and memorized their tricks.

My Aunt Gemma let me cook an omelet once. She was impressed that I had learned to flip it without breaking it. I was 12.

In foster care, I gravitated to the kitchen to observe the preparation of mass meals and learned how to cook in bulk, but with flavor. It was wonderful, and I occasionally got to help, even preparing my first meal for others in a group home at 16.

We had baked chicken breast with carmelized onion and lemon-soaked garlic on top, a side of home-made french fires, a salad with my own dressing, and vegetables were carrots and broccoli, lightly steamed and served with a ramekin of teriyaki and veggie broth.

I did not cook much except for myself after that farewell meal, but I always wanted to again.

You cooked for me and opened the world of French and Italian cuisine. You showed me that different potato types had different uses, not all peppers are green and bell, and convinced me to make my own sauces, fusing the tastes I knew well with those you loved.

You expanded me (in more ways than one). You gave me cooking. I don't know if that kind of inspiration will come from any women I might meet in the future.

You also let me experiment, you let me cook for you, and you honed my skills with knives and tools and techniques, and you taught me a little baking, though I will never be the better of the two of us in that department, either.

What I appreciate most was that you understood that I did not cook to threaten your domestic standing or make you irrelevant, and that if I was better at some style of food than you were, you left it to me.

You did not make me feel less anything for my little hobby, and making you smile when I cooked was always a proud and happy thing. Thank you for doing that every time, even when I know I had as many misses as hits in my cuisine.

There is so much more. Until next time...



Thursday, November 6, 2008

Letter to Marcie: Politics

So, I am sitting here after a long election night, thinking of you and some of the things we used to talk about. I remember how we meshed politically immediately, you care for people and disdain for close-mindedness a good match to my own.

Remember when you found out Hillary was running? I remember we didn't agree on her as a good choice. I was mostly concerned with electability, because she polarized people so much. You were mostly happy a woman couls be running for president.

Well, Hillary didn't make it in. Obama did. I remember that I liked Edwards but I preferred Obama, while you liked Obama from the beginning and thought Edwards might have more important things to do.

Yeah, he did. But he did worse than neglect those, it turns out.

At any rate, the only person we both decided we did not hate on the other side, John McCain, was their choice for a Republican candidate.

Hillary and Obama fought a running, bruising battle that saw her even invoke potential assassination a la Bobby Kennedy... a definite low moment. In the end, Obama prevailed and our polarized party pulled together for a big battle.

McCain was not doing well at first, but he managed to shake things up by picking a woman as his running mate... Srah Palin. Wow, what a crazy, apparently ignorant thing she was. She helped for all of five minutes.

Obama just moved forward with poise and grace, and he won. We have that Black president you thought would never happen. What a moment it was when they called it for Obama. People cried, sweety. I didn't until I got home.

Regardless that Palin claimed she could see Russia from her front door in Alaska, or that she did not know that Africa was a continent, or that she did not know who was part of NAFTA, consider that the Republicans offered the first female vice president
while the Democrats offered the first black president.

Looks like America was in the mood for the greater of two changes. Strange, huh?

I am pretty proud of my country right now. I wish we had been here to toast it and discuss it, as we did every election.

I walked my precinct again for the Dems, and man was it heartening. It was similar to 2004 but there were some great things missing... like you.

I missed my hug when I came home, your smile and your pride and encouragement for me, but I know that you are watching, and I know some time I will hear about it all... the good and the bad, since you departed me. Maybe in a dream, who knows?

I miss you, but the world is being kinder to me these days, and I just feel like somehow you are helping that along in your own way.

I love and miss you,


Monday, November 3, 2008

Letter to Marcie-Sweet days in the sun

The fall sunset, so special still...

Saturday I was watching one happen from the rooftop of Park Manor Suites as two new friends tied the knot. I so remember seeing one just like it one cool November evening and I glanced over to old Mister A's.

"This was way too expensive," you said.

I nodded. It was. But I wanted to have a special night with you, and I had gotten it. And all the extra hours in the world could not make that any less of a thrill. I was so in love with you.

The fires up north created a spectacular backdrop to the ceremony Saturday. It was so close to our night above the city, I swear.

I felt you hold my hand again as I closed my eyes and clasped my little glass of Crown Royal. I listened to the wind and the crowd and went back. I remembered the smell of your Fendi and the slinky slide of your top against my chest as we swayed.

I remembered the long kiss and the feel of your nose in the crook of my neck, then the soft weight of your head against my chest and your hair in my hands as I rubbed your nape gently.

"I love you," you said.

It was just one of the many times you had, but it is distinct. And Saturday I danced with mothers and grandmothers and wives and two new brides, and thought of you. And I smiled for them because of it.



Letter to Marcie-Halloween

It's another little gift you gave me. In 1993, I had not celebrated Halloween for 10 years. I just didn't see the sense in it. But you prevailed upon me to take another look at the holiday.

"So I was thinking we shoul do something for Halloween," you said.

'Hmm... dinner, dancing and gymnastics?' I thought. 'Maybe in costume for the last two? Helllloooooo nurse!'

"Well, what do you have in mind, Miss Stoddard?" I asked, trying to be suave.

"Let's go to Ralph's and get pumpkins to carve!" you blurted out. "We'll have some dinner and then we'll hand out candy. It'll be great. We get a few kids and all of my crazy neighbors come every year for candy. It'll be so fun!"

I guess the silence on the other end of the line tipped my hand. I was a bit taken aback, certainly. "I don't really do that on Halloween, usually," I said.

"Well, what do you do?" you asked, the edge of pre-annoyance (my name for that 'why didn't you just agree with me like you are supposed to' tone you had) definitely there.

"Well, usually I just hang out with friends and maybe go dancing or drinking or hit the beach for a bonfire," I offered. The truth was, I just used it as an excuse to party. I hadn't worn a costume in a decade.

"Well, I love Halloween and I would really like it if you would come over and carve a pumpkin with me, but I understand if you want to go out and get drunk with your friends," you said, matter-of-factly. "Some people need to do that."

Oh, it did sting, but it was effective. "No, that does sound fun," I said. "I'll tell you in class tomorrow. Maybe we can go to a party after trick or treaters stop coming by?"

"I work the next day," you said flatly. "Listen, I've gotta go, but I'll see you tomorrow. You know, you really don't have to if you don't want to. I understand and I won't be mad if you want to do your own thing."

It stung for sure. You would have been hurt, I could tell.

"You know what, let's get pumpkins tomorrow," I said. "Even if I don't hand out candy, we can have some fun and hang out making a mess."

"OKAY! OKay, we'll take the 7 after class," you said. "Oh, I am so excited! I can't wait to see what you carve."

And the die was cast. I read three articles on pumpkin carving that night and decided I had to make this a good Halloween. We carved them that night and yours was a wonderful one-tooth with a pointy grin and evil eyes.

I somewhat missed the mark. I made the theater faces in pumpkin but they lacked menace. "They look very nice," you said. "But they are not very Halloween, are they."

I guess vindication came in the form of your gay neighbors' exclamation. "Oh, my god, I want to take these home. These are the coolest. Can I have them?"

You shrugged and pointed at me, saying "Ask him, he made them."

Two days later I had a fittingly menacing and imperfect pumpkin to put next to yours as the stream of patrons began. I remember your black hat and gown, and the huge witch nose from CVS.

You were otherwise so cute... but that green nose...

It was my first Halloween in ten years. Last year, just two days after you left us, I handed out candy to the neighborhood kids. You were so happy at the anumber of them we got at our little house.

I knew you were there with me, and even if I had a very hard time doing it, I learned from you well, and I took a guess at each child's costume. This year, tyhe hulk, Darth Vader and devils were prominent.

Thank you for helping me understand the joy of the whole thing. This was a special holiday for you since you learned about it. For me, it was a special holiday for us because we got to be kids together, and simply play.

It was a sweet time of year for us, Marcie.

Of course, I noticed the perennial favorite... all the little witches in their regalia. There were plenty of those, but I could have used one more.



Thursday, October 30, 2008

Letter to Marcie-Music

Dear Marcie,

You gave me music. Of course, in the figurative sense, we made beautiful music together. But you gave me music from people I had not before appreciated.

Who knew I would learn to like some of these things. Sure, we had our common ground, U2,The Who, English Beat, The Cure. So many others... but you gave me the idea that current did not necessarily mean "sucks." I am so very grateful.

You always stretched the edges a bit. You went from ABBA and Beegees to ZZ Top and the Cars, to Tori Amos and Sara Maclauchlan and back to Led Zeppelin, over to Soft Cell, The Violent Femmes and Concrete Blonde, even some Sex Pistols and threw in a little En Vogue and Mya.

I remember flipping between 101.5 and 91X, 102.1 and occasioanlly 94.9 You indulged my need to listen to classical, and you even had your own favorites in that genre. We had a million songs just for us, all of them based on something or some sweet moment we were living together in.

I Have saved your last MP3 set. I hear so much in them and I had to stop listening for a bit. I will get back to them. You communicated so much in that music, in those songs. I will finish and think about each of them, no matter how much it aches, I promise.

I am most grateful to you for introducing me to the songbirds of our age. There is nothing that lulls me to sleep and calm or just relaxation like a songbird's voice. I have been accused by a friend of being "pretty damn Lilith Fair for how aggro your are."

Yeah, it was Dean. Of course you knew that, right?

Well, there was only one voice i truly could not stay angry in the presence of, and it was yours. It still is, actually. I so love when I can recall it and you are so clear in my heart and my ears. When you visit in dreams, it echoes for weeks.

It is and was a small but potent part of you that I still cherish. Thank you for both the music I listen to now, the broadening of my tastes, and the sweetness of your own music in my soul.

I know you did not like her, my sweet, but one person I never won you over on was Natalie Merchant. However, she does ring a note in me, and sometimes as much with her words as her voice.

This last discovery crushed me at first, but I realize now that much of it would never be. I could never disappoint you by not finishing my work here, but the song is beautiful, and I wish I had the years with you it is written around.

Someone did justice to the song in pictures. I wish I had seen us at that age, but that will never be. We deserved to see those days, I know that.

For now, my love, good night.


Someday I will sing this song myself, and change just one word. When I do, I will share it with all of you in a more illustrative video of Marcie and I.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A letter to Marcie

Hello, my love

It has been a year. One year ago, my heart cracked and then broke as you slipped away. What a terrible night. That night will always haunt me with your kindness, your strength and courage, which all inspire me, and always will.

I thought, for the first few months, that I would not make it without you. I felt myself dying a little, day by day. I took care of myself, inside I just felt empty.

My longing for you ached like the hunger of a starving child. I noticed, as the months passed, your visits bolstered me. You nourished me with your soft presence and your happiness, so long forgotten in our lives, was a relief to see in our strange revels.

Of course, I have tried to write everything I can about the beauty of you, your spirit and your heart, your strength and your joy in life. I think you have approved, so far. I have tried to document everything that you made special in our lives, too. I think I have a good start...

I have been sorting my writing for your book. I know it would never be written if you still breathed, as modest as you are. But it will be. I need to have something of you outlast me. It was always my belief you would be there after me.

Sometimes I am glad, because this life beyond yours is so hard. I imagine it's what yours without me would have been like. I wouldn't want this for you, really.

I have so much to thank you for, my love. I will spend the next two weeks, between now and our anniversary, recalling them in letters to you.

Until the next letter, then. I miss you,


Friday, October 24, 2008


Tonight, I looked in vain for Venus. Of course, the star charts would have told me why, but my heart had a ready explanation, too. I miss you, my Venus. I look forward to having you rise on my horizon again, when the heavens deem it the right time.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Into the dreams

She calls me again and I slip into sleep,
run to her and then I fall and I weep.
She lifts me anew and I rise to my feet,
to take in her view, of a life now complete.

She sings in my soul and I dance to her heart,
We embrace, are made whole, though waking apart.
Urging me, no matter how hard it seems,
to be strong and proud, in her light, in my dreams.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Luxury Living for The Dead

Check this out. I floated past this graveyard every time we ferried onto the main island in Hong Kong. Having a view of the sea is not just for the rich living, you know... it is also for the rich dead.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A quiet time at a loud place

So, yesterday I went to a birthday party at Dean's for Braxton, a freshly minted Devilish Deuce of a boy. It made me reflect on Marcie and I and how we saw the question of kids. Well, I won't cover that here, but soon in another post.

Yesterday, as I sat with a friend and watched a small army of toddlers bounce, eat cake and generally enjoy life, I noticed on thing lacking: a redhead child. There was not one in the over a dozen present.

Well, it was still an interesting time.

At any rate, Marcie was not one to spend time with our friends or do kids' birthday parties unless they were for her close friends, like Chrissy's. But she may have enjoyed this one in the cool winds of autumn on Mt. Helix.

Thanks, Dean-O and Joey, for a great time and a nice, life-affirming event. These weeks, I need those. And happy birthday, Braxton :)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Secret posts

So I am posting in the back end of the blog as I work on the book. Some things to look forward to: I will be posting China films, writing some about Marcie and I and the kids question, and just reminiscing. I feel as if the dispersal last week(ish) helped me unclog a lot...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A conversation

"You did not," she said.

"Yes, I did!" I insisted.

"Did you record it?" she asked.

I just smiled and she laughed. "Oh my god, honey, you are SO funny. Okay, let's see it."

I popped the tape in and on came John Gibson, talking about Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton.

"So, what do you think, people? I'll be back in a moment to take your comments on the air and hash it out with you, right here on MSNBC," he smiled, tossing some papers behind his shoulder and shaking his head.

She fast-forwarded until the transition screen appeared and played.

"So here we are again, people," Gibson said. "Tell me what you think. Is Monica Lewinsky going to testify and if so, what does this mean for Bill Clinton? Frank in Humboldt County, 30 seconds."

"John, I think she has good representation and if she doesn't, friends of the administration will be finding some for here pretty darn quickly," I said.

It drew a smile. "So you think that the Clinton clan will circle wagons with her? Pretty bold, Frank," he said. "Hey, how are things up there in Northern California? I had one of my first anchor jobs in Ukiah."

"Well, not bad, John," I said. "I love the rain."

"You'll love it up there, then," he said. "There's never a shortage!"

Marcie laughed and looked at me, shaking her head. "You liar," she said. "You like it until you get tired of it, then you get mad at it."

I shrugged as John continued, "So why do you think the Clintons huddle up with the Lewinsky clan?"

"John, it's the presidency," I said. "You don't blow that position for the whole party if you can help it, especially over a little blue dress. You get a lawyer, or even a few. And your spread them around liberally. Let's not dre4ss it up, you hos ethis fire down with cash."

Marcie, her broadcast experience in high school rearing up, shuckled, "Ho ho ho, careful honey!"

Gibson smiled and paused on the television, waiting as he shook his head for a good disarming comeback to occur to him. He looked up and smiled broadly, "So you don't let this incident stain an otherwise good record?" he asked.

"Well," I said. "Depends on who you ask, but I say 'A dry cleaner! A dry cleaner! My kingdom for a dry cleaner!' seems to lack a certain panache, right?"

He guffawed as Marcie held her hand over her mouth, eyes popped wide at my Newschat bravado, then looked at me.

"Point well taken, Frank," he said. "Let's keep it clean, then, right?"

"A bit late, John, but hey... there's always another dress... I mean intern... I mean day," I said.

He was silent this time for a few seconds, smiling and staring at the camera, almost incredulous. Marcie slapped me as she watched, wide-eyed, red as a beet. John changed the subject.

"So you're a student journalist up there in Humboldt?" he said. "You're a pretty funny guy and you have some personality, maybe I ought to watch out for my chair?"

"No, no, I'll get my own, John, when the time's right," I said. "Maybe I'll have an intern, too? Do you have an intern, John?"

"HA! No comment Frank," he said, shuffling his papers and smiling, laughing with nods, open-mouthed, silent.

"Wow, Gibson without a comment?" I asked. "Can it be?"

"It can, Frank, it can," he said, mirthfully, even. "Hey, I have to take more calls, but call back after the show. If you get down to San Francisco, I have someplace you might want to visit for some really good Chinese. The best ever."

"I'll do that, John," I said. "Great show, man. I'll see you on the tube or in the studio someday."

"I don't doubt it," he said. "I'll talk to you later."

I hung up on the tape and Marcie stopped the VCR. "You are so crazy," she said. "I am so proud of you. You were so funny and smart."

She hugged me and I noticed she was blushing. I kissed her forehead.

"So we'll go to the restaurant someday?" I asked. "I did call and get it after the show. I didn't record that."

"Maybe," she said. "Maybe we will."

We never did, but it was still a sweet moment. Her pride in me always made me feel like anything was worthwhile, even playing hookie from college for a rest.

We had stir fry for dinner. It was great.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Birthday Girl! (a blog post that should have been)

Dear pals,

So Marcie turned 41 Sunday, as all of you know. here in San Diego we had a nice brunch at Jake's and sipped a bit too much in the Mimosa department. We were late for her dinner at Bob's and Barbara's, but we made tardy worth the while, for sure. Thanks to everyone, what a crowd!

She scored the Lost DVD set with all the episodes she missed when she was bedridden, a ticket to San Francisco (for both of us... for the first time!) and some MORE Jo Malone. God, how much loot does one woman get? As much as she wants, methinks. Send more, she hates that but secretly enjoys it, too...

I can't believe last year I was facing a life without our girl. I would have been utterly lost. Somehow, I just know I would have been broken down and maybe died myself. I am so proud of her. So tough, and so sweet. She's my hero.

I am sorry it has been a week or two since I updated, but I am thinking I might change the blog to "crazy husband loves redhead" or something. This old blog was more about keeping everyone up on her struggle. She's not entirely comfortable with it, now.

Thanks again, everyone! I'll update on the changes and anything else to come when I have it fleshed out. What a strange chapter in our lives. I am glad to turn the page. This one will stay up so we can all remember just how tough it was.

G'night folks!


I wish... so much.

Monday, October 6, 2008

One year ago

I walked into the room and asked her if she needed help getting up. She did. I helped her and her legs buckled under her. The day before, she had been walking fine. I was upset, of course, and called hospice for help.

By the time they arrived, Jane had come by. It was agonizing to fight with the hospice people. Marcie needed help, and they were insisting it was the progression of her disease.

I was suspicious. She had been fine the night before. She had also had a medication change.

Her diuretic, used to control her swelling in the arms from post-surgical edema, had been replaced by the hospice doctor with a powerful statin. I did not piece it together right away, but a few months after her death, I did.

They changed the drug that night while she slept at a nursing home. She never recovered.

There was no progression of her disease, her tumors had been retreating. I found this out a week later. She had, until that night, been recovering and gettign just a little stronger.

This will not stand. I think the statin did the damage, and her three-week downward spiral and death, losing function on one side of her body as she did, lies at the feet of the doctor whose care she was under.

On her birthday, last year, a mistake or something more sinister sent Marcie on a hellish journey to death.

I remembered her very good, sweet nature today as I went through my routine as best I could. I lit her candles and talked to her. Now that her special day has drawn to a close, I reflect on the injustice of it all.

Four decades of her grace, sweetness and beauty was not enough. She, and all of us deserved and had coming far more.

This will not stand.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Home again, and dreams, and finishing Hong Kong

As Marcie's birthday approaches, I have some thoughts to share, and dreams as well. What a trip, so to speak. There will be many more pictures and a ton of flicks I shot on video. For now, the jet lag is slowly wearing off and my heart is full and warm.

Have a good Saturday, folks. I am off to reconnect with my San Diego life.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Marcie's first resting place

So, I went on a long pilgrimage this morning, walking to the opposite side of the island with Marcie's cremains. I found the spot I wanted and felt he would have her breath stolen by in life, and let her go.

It was one of the hardest days ever, but I feel I did her the honor I should. The film is below. Good night, folks.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The HK Visit - Butterflies

It was all about the butterflies.

By this I knew right away, or at least believed, the thought that she was not really here, and she could not be. But I wanted to, and I wanted to touch her, so I sat at the table.

"They are really nice, honey," she said, her voice rising on the last syllable in the way that told me she was pleased. She slid her pale, cool hand over to my forearm and looked me in the eyes.

And I smiled and thought, "Of course she likes them, because she is just in my head right now, and I have been collecting those butterfly pictures slowly and agonizingly for a week."

"I am glad you like them," I said. "Some of the best are too active to catch, and none of them seem to like to display when they rest."

She pulled them out of her purse, the brown one she always loved to carry and smiled, flipping through them. I walked around and stared at her face as she perused them. She sighed quietly.

"I love that you send these to me," she said. "I have every picture you've ever sent."

The Butterflies of Lamma - For Marcie

I thought to myself, "I have very few pictures of us together, I regret that so badly," and gulped, holding her hand.

"I know you regret it, honey," she said. "I know you do. But you don't need proof of anything. Everyone knows I love you and everyone knows you love me."

I fished around for my camera and she posed, smiling, then I set the camera on the dilapidated Coke refrigerator Mrs. Chan owned and set the timer. She smiled and bit her lower lip, then slid onto my lap.

I managed a smile, and as she turned and her big, blue, beautiful eyes sank into mine she became a blur, and tears burned down my cheeks.

"Why are you crying?" she asked. "Oh, honey. It's okay. It's okay..."

I thought, "I am crying because she is dead, she is not on Lamma, she is not even here in the dream with me. She is just a memory and a fantasy and I have not even printed a picture in a year."

She squeezed me against her chest and I felt and heard her heart beat against mine. She whispered, "If I am all those things and not me, aren't you grateful you have such a clear memory of me?"

I nodded and she kissed my nose. She wiped my tears with her thumbs and stoked my hair. "You're taking care of yourself," she said. "Thank you."

I shrugged.

She shook her head and sighed. "People lose the people who died before them because they become convinced that everything is just in their heads about their feelings of this whole hard, sad loss of that connection is real, and they think the dead can't feel or learn or change."

I looked up at her and they were all blue, then they opened and I sank into them again. I lost sight of all but those blue pools of unfathomable kindness and gentle love, and I knew that though she may not have been there at first, she was now.

I looked away, at Mrs. Chan and her peers, who now ignored us utterly, as opposed to the furtive, slightly annoyed glances they offered before.

"I love you," I said, the hot stng of tears on my face again.

"I know," she said. "You love me like I never left, because you know I never did. And I have felt it the whole time. Every thought of me, all your pains, your little offerings and your tears, I feel them all."

I nodded and sighed. "I know, sometimes they must be very sad."

"No, sweetie, no," she said, her cool skin against my face in her decolletage a sweet relief from the Honk Kong humidity. "You are so good to me, you don't even know."

I looked up and she smiled, but then looked concerned. "Don't throw me away, though, okay?" she asked.

I was confused and hurt all at once. I looked up at her and felt great weight.

"Don't disperse it all, not all of me," she said. "I love what you want to do for me. I love that I am here with you, that your love is so very strong. But don't let all of me go."

I nodded and croaked, "Okay."

"Letting me be free is not the same as letting go of me forever, and I don't want to let go of you, and I don't want you to let go of me," she said, holding my hand. "Keep a little of me close, sweetie, just a little."

And I was sure she was there now, so I asked, petulantly, sadly "Do you miss me?"

She gulped and sighed, "I can see you any time I want," she said. "I don't miss you. But I do know you miss me terribly, and I wish you could be with me as easily as I can be with you. But I am sometimes sad that you are in so much pain."

"I'll see you as often as I can," I said.

We stared out at a sunset over the ocean as the day closed, and I leaned against her as she sat in my lap.

As I woke, the heat of Lamma on my skin in the night was less where I felt she had been, and the absolute quiet slowly faded into the sounds of a less reverent night of a living island.

I knew she had been by and I was solemn for the moment. As I went to sleep again, Istarted awake at the sound of a voice.

I think it said, "I'm looking forward to the turtles."

Monday, September 29, 2008

Marcie in Hong Kong - Visit

Marcie visited last night, but I was too conscious and couldn't go with the flow. Still, there was a moment at the end... far too brief.

She continues to console me, but I still wake and fall apart after her appearances. For a little while, until the comfort of her presence and the specialness of that connection wraps itself around me like a hug.

More later.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Temple of the Sea God

Here is the little temple that sits at the entrance to Pak Kok village. Pak Tai is the Taoist sea god, and one of his power symbols is the turtle. Appropriate, no? There are many little temples to him like this on the island, likely because of all the fishing that is done here. Enjoy!

The harbor and the hill of the dead

I have some films to share with you all tomorrow. A tour of a small temple... a view of a huge sea-facing place of rest, and some oddities of Hong Kong that come from familiar names and ideas.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ending a long week

She has been all over my heart and mind, and now I am tired. But I will be taking her to the Turtle Place soon, and I will have to be rested, I think, to deal with that emotional bomb. Today I meditated after a long work day and watched the sky change. I thought I'd share some of it, too.

I wish I had her here to enjoy it with me, of course.

I have been collecting pictures of little things around the island that make me feel her presence. I'll share that in a day or two as I prepare for the film of my trip to Turtle Beach.

The Thoughtful Skies of Lamma

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Typhoon Hagupit

Marcie loved stormy weather, but not constant drizzle. She would have enjoyed last night and today. We are under the terrible winds of Hagupit and the underwhelming rains of it, too.

Pictures later. For now, I am still waiting for my chance to go to turtle beach... It is apparently not safe for now.

Some photos of my adventure so far:

Monday, September 22, 2008

The view from my front porch

Here are some of the sounds and sights I wish she and I could be sharing here on Lamma. Marcie loved early morning wildlife sounds. Turn your volume up to hear these.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Waking up...

There was a quiet in my heart.
I gazed out on the sea.
I was surrounded but apart
as people jostled me.
The din about me hammered on
with life and toil and smoke.
A million people yammered on
though muted as they spoke.
By senses neither lost nor dulled.
My mind was not adrift.
But when the world sighed they lulled
and I felt an eldritch shift.
A hint of you blew past my nose,
A woman with your scent
A happy laugh and flash of rose
appeared, then off she went.
A pair of lovers, fixed, held hands
an island in the flow.
A solid point in the shifting sands
like us, just months ago.
I met his eye and nodded, waved
and smiled as they then bowed.
Then off they went, the moment saved,
before they joined the crowd.
And at the pier a woman stared
out on the choppy sea
Her skirt and blouse were nicely paired
and so like you, to me.
I know I've gone so far away
among the crowd, to roam.
But you were there with me today
my heart your quiet home.


I am exhilarated but pensive. I don't know what is going to happen when I drop off some of Marcie's ashes at the beach, but I am feeling her presence and that is enough. I will film the dispersal for everyone, and my words to her during this first moment, too.

She would love this place. She would love the surroundings, the heat and humidity, the thunderstorms in the evening, the hustle and bustle and the raw energy.

What I wish goes unsaid and unwritten because it is thoroughly understandable and predictable, and impossible to fulfill. I will share with all you who knew or have come to know her.

Look for pictures and film later on this weekend. I have been busy and will remain so.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The guardian and the preparation

Seamus has taken to sitting on Marcie's table of memorial, alongside her container. This began a short time ago. Usually, he slept under her. It is almost as if he has to be even closer. Of course, my dreams have accelerated, too.

I wonder if his have. At any rate, a few pictures:

I will post pictures of her recontainment another day. I sleep and prepare for the journey for now, folks. Good night.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The List

Nail Clippers
Memory cards
MP3 player (hers)
Ashes (hers)

So say alright...

This song makes me think of all the times Marcie and I worried about how to pay the bills and buy our loved ones gifts. We never failed to do it. We had lean years but we ate a little more poorly to be sure we provided tokens of our love to our families.

She was the first one to hold my hand through lean times when my work or businesses were not making much. She was also the first woman to understand the need to give even when it hurt. That, I think, I will never find again.

It looks like a few hundred million people will be needing their own Marcies soon. This song should have some resonance to them.

Of course, there is a little more resonance for me in this if you listen closely...

More Time
I promised you the world again
Everything within my hands
All the riches one could dream
They will come from me

I hoped that you could understand
That this is not what I had planned
Please don’t worry now
It will turn around

Cause I need more time
Just a few more months and we’ll be fine
So say what’s on your mind
Cause I can’t figure out just what’s inside

I hoped that you could understand
That this is not what I had planned
Please don’t worry now
It will turn around

Cause I need more time
Just a few more months and we’ll be fine
So say what’s on your mind
Cause I can’t figure out just what’s inside
So say alright
Cause I know we can make it if we try
Cause I need more time
Just a few more months and we’ll be fine

We’re off to new lands
So hold on to my hands
It’s gonna be alright
It’s a whole lot brighter
So stand by the fire
It’s gonna be alright
Yeah, the road gets harder
But it’s not much farther
It’s gonna be alright
You know that it ain’t easy
Please believe me
It’s gonna be alright

Please don’t worry now
It will turn around

Cause I need more time
Just a few more months and we’ll be fine
So say what’s on your mind
Cause I can’t figure out just what’s inside
So say alright
Cause I know we can make it if we try
Cause I need more time
Just a few more months and we’ll be fine

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hong Kong Preparation-The Plan Begins

I have begun to pack for the trip and prepare my house. I am sorry to have to leave Seamus behind, but he will be in good hands. In the mean time, I have decided to bring a little bit of Marcie's cremains to Hong Kong.

Marcie's family and friends know of her love for sea turtles. She was enchanted by one during her trip to Hawaii. She spoke of it constantly afterward, and looked forward to going back to that lagoon for another "encounter," as she described it.

The island of Lamma, where I will be staying, is home to the Green turtle, an endangered species that lays its eggs there after travelling thousands of miles. Their breeding season ends in October, so we are just in time.

I will leave some of her ashes on or near the beach with the turtles, so that she can commune with them and be visited every summer. I will try to place her in a place with a nice view of the beach it all happens at.

I will, of course, snap pictures.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Scullery Maid

Marcie was particular about her house. She might let things, say dusting the bookshelf, go. But others, like the kiycjen floor, she had to have clean.

She did not wear her sweats to do her housework. "Too hot," she said when I asked.

She wore her older long skirts, her worn out tank tops and her tight t-shirts that had faded or were stained. She looked very domestic, in a cute way. To add to the effect, she often tied her hair up in a mass on her head to keep it out of her way,

This was intriguing to me. She looked awfully cute down there, scrubbing the floor.

Apparently, though, she didn't feel cute. And as important as cleaning was, she didn't like humor to be injected into her routine.

So when I stood behind her and growled, "Yar, ye fine scullery wench, I've come for your booty," it is not surprising that she took some small offense.

She turned and looked at me from the kitchen floor, slowly, her face beet red and covered in sweat, the little sponge she insisted in using in place of a mop in her hand. She looked at me incredulously, then bit her lower lip and narrowed her eyes.

I suddenly understood very clearly that this might not end well.

"Scull-a what?" she asked, tossing the sponge onto the ground and standing up. "What did you just call me? And you've for my BOOTY? My sweaty, unhappy, housecleaning, mad at you for not helping booty?"

I nodded and tried the cheeky approach. "Yar, I jave."

She gritted her teeth and pointed. "Get out. Now. Out, Frank."

She took my arm by the bicep and led me to the door, practically shoving me out. I stepped on the porch and she closed the door.

Then she locked it, and latched it, and then she bolted the window closed, too.

From inside I heard her say, "Why don't you go play pirate with your friends at the coffee shop and come back when you want to help out around here?"

I looked down at my jockeys and socks. No shoes, no pants, and a Soft Cell t-shirt. I knocked.

Twenty minutes later, we started the Domestic Duties and Roles war.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Marcie's kind of weather

As the days have finally begun to cool down here, i have reflected on Marcie's favorite weather. It isn't a simple matter to pin that down, really.

Marcie liked it sunny or partly cloudt, but avoided the sun. She liked it warm but hated when it was dry. Finally, she loved the rain, but only for a little while at a time, and then she preferred it to remain partly cloudy. She hated overcast days.

If you could give her all those conditions in a given week, she would be content.

She preferred her warmth, but there was one thing she looked forward to. Just enough coolness in the air to curl into or next to me, laying on the couch or in bed, napping or sleeping, draped on me comfortably.

It was a nice reason to hope for rain and a chill in the air. I always did.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

First New Years

I half-carried her up the stairs as she laughed and giggled. She smiled and flopped back dramatically, arms out as her tequila-laced, Midori-sweetened breath rolled out at me.

"Oh yeah, I am so drunk," she said, closing her eyes a second.

She opened her eyes and grabbed my neck, nearly pulling me off balance as I negotiated the doorway.

"Bathroom," she said. "Bathroom!"

I helped her in and she looked at me ruefully as I waited to assist. I regretted being so sober but was glad to get her home safely.

"Go away," she said, closing the door and kneeling before the porcelain god and preparing for her purgative purgatory.

I heard her leave the bathroom about 20 minutes later and helped her to the bed, slipping her brown boots off and getting her safely set up on the edge of the bed.

"I love you," she said. "I'm so drunk."

Sometimes I was, too, and for all the same reasons.

Editorial Update

I'll be posting short sequences and a little story about Marcie, travel, and me being at home when she did this week. I will also tell you more about Marcie's image of RiverMannonite and the history she built for him.

Pictures will be coming soon, of a little phenomenon we experience in our yard every year. I think you'll enjoy, even if the shots do not encompass the whole...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Preparing to move

Well, it is time. I have begun snapping shots of products and items we own that can be sold online, and soon will start posting craigslist ads to rid myself of some of the heavier items. I expect the move and settling in in San Francisco to be a bit expensive, but for my mind's sake, I have to get to it.

Of course, I still have to get to Hong Kong for a potential business deal, so we'll see how that pans out. I'll let you all know. After that, it will be all preparation for the actual act of moving.

I'm keeping the time line short, but open. However, I cannot stand looking at all the gigs in San Francisco, as compared to here in San Diego. If it doesn't work out?

Hah. It will work out. I have layered backup plans already in place and opened a few doors while I wa sup last time.

In the mean time, I will be posting more on Marcie and I later today. But for the next week I intend to enjoy being unemployed but look for work in optimal conditions...

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Her Mp3 Player-The Smithereens 2

When I spoke of "Kiss your tears away," I supposed it was intended to be about me to her, kissing her tears away. But Marcie was layered and deep, and it is likely she felt the song encapsulated things we both felt.

She may have felt that sense toward me in the moments that came so slowly and yet inexorably, but I certainly felt them towards her in the moments that went by so quickly and so unmercifully.

But if that song was meaningful then Cut Flowers was even moreso. When Christina and Jane visited, we flipped through albums. In one of them we found my first flowers to her, a couple of roses. They were pressed and I remembered her putting them there.

I suppose she assumed they would remind her of me. Instead, they remind me now of how much she cherished everything. And the song? I'm sure you'll understand the connection beyond the simple titular accident.This selection is a feat of knowledge and intimacy only she could accomplish.

Cut Flowers
(Jim Babjak/Pat DiNizio)

Sentimental gestures never meant that much to me
But if I had her here today
I'd shed a tear for all the world to see

Cut flowers sent to a girl with sentimental ways
Cut flowers meant more to her on ordinary days

A gentle girl who needed all the love I had to give
But I was blind to her and would not give
What she needed most to live

Cut flowers sent to a girl with sentimental ways
Cut flowers meant more to her on ordinary days

Cut flowers pressed between the pages of a book she gave
 I go to her and say, "I'm sorry,"
Then I put cut flowers on her grave

Cut flowers sent to a girl with sentimental way
Cut flowers meant more to her on ordinary days

I know how very thoughtful and loving and very heartrent she must have been to listen to this and place it on there to ponder. I know it right now. But I also know I don't have to say I am sorry. Our regrets were thankfully resolved.

But wow, it is a beautiful song. Cut Flowers by The Smithereens.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Her MP3 Player-The Smithereens

"Honey, have you ever heard... ?" she asked.

I would nod and smile and she would shake her head, troubled.

"Have you ever heard.. ?"

"No, not that one," I would say. "Who is it by?"

The list of bands whose more obscure songs she liked was extensive, and although I knew the music, she was pulling tracks from earlier works than those my slightly younger years would recall clearly.

As her I-tunes list grew and I converted the songs, then placed them on CDs and finally an open-standards MP3 player, I noticed she asked me to download and place songs more rarely, but when she did, the same ritual was played out.

Only the ones I had not heard or did not have recollection of, usually by bands I knew, were on her list. But I was not to listen to her MP3 player. That changed the day she was in the hospital and I visited. She smiled her lopsided grin and held my hand.

"There's some good music on my MP3 player," she said.

I thought it was a thank you for me, or perhaps a little request, so I asked.

"Do you want me to bring it to you?" I asked.

She shook her head. "No, you listen to it."

I didn't get around to it until before I went to San Francisco, then I listened when I got back again. Every song is a message, and they all hurt right now.

But the one that hurts most at the moment is one that mirrors something I told her when she decided she would likely not make it. From The Smithereens, one of my favorite groups ever, she shared two songs. The first kills me the most.

I don't know if it's her promise or my own she chose this for. But it sounds like my guide right now.

Kiss Your Tears Away

And now it's time to go to bed
My darling rest your weary head
But I have work I should begin
So I will tuck you in
And I will kiss your tears away

I never thought I'd run to you
I thought I'd better things to do
But now I can't wait for the day
When by your side I'll lay
And I will kiss your tears away

I will give you everything
I will make your every dream come true
I will be the one you need
You know I'm the one to see you through

I will give you everything
I will make your every dream come true
I will be the one you need
You know I'm the one to see you through

And now it's time to go to bed
My darling rest your weary head
But I have work I should begin
So I will tuck you in
And I will kiss your tears away

I remember kissing her tears from her face and holding her, especially in those last few weeks, especially after a tough visit or a rough day. I wish I could have, as painful as those days were, had more days to.

Moments of Marcie is not about just being text-heavy and all that. We do multimedia. You can hear this selection by m=our Marcie free and legal by clicking right here.

I have been trying to look ahead and stretch my wings a bit, but as I share more of her song selections, you'll see where I stumble and why.

Night for now,


Thursday, September 4, 2008

San Francisco Then and Next

Marcie and I had planned to move to San Francisco before we returned to San Diego, but there was one complication. Marcie was not able to stay in Humboldt any longer, and was not willing to take a chance on moving to San Francisco without a job to support us.

"Honey, it is way too expensive," she said. "We can't afford it unless we both have jobs."

She was right, of course. But for me to get the job I wanted, at Imagine Networks, I needed a bachelor's, complete and ready to present. That required one more semester, the fall of 1998.

She let it be known by May that it was impossible. "I can't stand it here anymore," she cried, holding her face in her hands and heaving at the shoulders as I held her against me. "I can't do this anymore.

Of course, I had been feeling the strain of her discontentment for some time. She was always picking fights and never really happy. I was through with the anger.

I had no idea that her boss was harassing her. That would have changed a lot of things, including the term of his lifespan.

But there was no time to arrange anything. We returned to San Diego. I was miserable instantly.

I don't know what would have become of us in San Francisco, but I know I would rather be anywhere with her than alone anywhere else. I wish I still had that choice.

But at least I can choose to move and, in so doing, explore that beautiful city for her.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What a trip

There will be no photos shared publicly about my trip, save a few generic skyline shots and, perhaps, an approved shot of the hostesses (once they okay one). I will also not share much about this one here, except the Slow Food Nation event, as Marcie would have been in heaven there.

Suffice it to say that this was the first trip that I went on really more for myself and my future than for her and my past. This is not the place for such things.

Pictures of it all later. For now, we're going back to my memories of moments of my Marcie. I have some thoughts to share about Marcie and how I felt looking out on my next home city, one she almost joined me in. That will be all that one finds here.

Friends, of course, can ask in person or email. I will have some private albums to view...


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Coming Home

It wasn't a long trip, but it had been long enough. The cool touch of her hand stroking my forearm welcomed me home after I hauled my bags in. I let out a deep breath and closed my eyes for a second, letting the road and the airport slide off me.

She slipped her hand down and behind me, then the other, and buried her face in my chest. I felt her words in my sternum, more than heard them.

"Welcome home, sweetie," she said.

And then the rest of the tension slid off me, and it was time to rest again.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Cafe Time

It was a rare treat. She walked in and smiled at me from across the little coffee shop and sat at the table. I got up from my own and walked over, sauntering, really.

"Hello," I said. "Come here often?"

"It's my second time," she said. "Well, then. As this is my first, I shall try and develop a habit now, if you agree to do the same."

She blushed and she took my hand. "Okay, that's enough, honey," she said, smiling and, I could tell, a little pleased with me. "No more pickup lines, you already won me. No need to pretend."

I chuckled and sat again and whispered, "Yeah, let's get real, baby. Mmmm hmmmm..."

She looked at me as if her patience was about to be exhausted, but I pressed on. "So what kind of mocha will my little redhead goddess sample today, hmm?"

She smiled and all was well until we both returned to work, our little game over for the moment.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Blue Yonder (Pt. 1)

She bit her lower lip and her soft little hand was hot, sweaty and squeezing mine hard. She listened to the announcer and she smiled with a squint, teeth still pinching, picking up her lipstick.

Our peaceful struggles and fearsome trysts played in my memory like individual taps on a jazz man's drum kit, perfect rhythm sometimes changing direction just to keep from boring itself. I played with her fingers and could feel her pulse. It had gently tapped for nigh on seven years. It was faster at the moment, and I wondered that I knew well enough to tell.

I smiled at her and she gave me a quizzical look as we headed to the gate.

The music in the airport bar faded behind us, and she squeezed her hand tighter around mine and kissed my neck, then whispered in my ear, "Oh my god, Frank. Here we go."

I couldn't help it and looked down with my mischievous, lopsided smile and said, "Oh Marcie, my little goddess," and kissed her forehead.

She rolled her eyes and we boarded, her hand relaxing just a bit, lying to me as her heartbeat picked up.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Photos from the Debauch, Much to share

The trip has been outlandishly lavish. I'll share more and photos with it when I get a chance. For now, I have to get ready for more lavish outlandishness. My God, I love these women named Christina and Jane, if you didn't know. They simply rock.

They have kept me guessing. Today, they had me at the Slow Food Rocks, the musical component to the Slow Food Nation Festival. Awesome fun was had and pictures (evidence) will be posted.

There was a Marcie moment... I'll share later. Night for now,


Friday, August 29, 2008

Here in San Francisco...

Well, my journey to San Francisco is complete. I checked into my hotel at 11:00 PM after a great little trip to the Slow Food Preview with Jane and Christina. I tried to get pictures, we'll see how they turned out...

I will take some pictures of the grand debauch as it unfolds. I keep wondering what Marcie and I would be doing if she were with me, but then I catch myself and I am back in the moment where I belong.

I guess that seeing her (now my) friends is going to have me slipping back into those memories and that nostalgia again. But I am not complaining. It's a comfy place and an influence I prosper from.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Big Job, Big Memories, Big Pain

I have been slowly storing all of Marcie's I-tunes and MP3s on my laptop. Previously, I had somewhat avoided this because the music is so full of her personality. It's like she's in the next room, playing some music.

Which reminds me of something that happened the other day. Marcie loved Concrete Blonde and had a few of their CDs. I had just gotten home and fed Seamus. As I began to stretch before my run, I heard "Lullabye" strain out from the room.

I cautiously asked, croaking, "Marcie?" as I looked around the corner.

No. Seamus sat with his back against the boom box, cleaning himself in his post-dinner frenzy.

That aside, much music is now way too loaded for me. Even the music which came before us is tainted with it, because so much of why we connected was in our love of music and similarity of tastes.

I suppose I will reach back to the music when she has been gone and my memory fades. But for now, I find eery song from our time together just pounding me with memories and then joy, then, a slow sadness as the songs end.

For now, I am just trying to back everything up and make sure her library, so illustrative of her moods as the songs were ordered, map her progression and feelings very clearly.

Even if some of it is painful to comprehend her feelings with, it is at least a window into her that was not lost. It's kind of a journal in music I can read when I am strong enough.

The best part? Looking at her beautiful handwriting on the covers of her backup CDs. I can see so much of her in her loops and lines.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Not being good at waiting

I was never the kind to sit and wait,
I was never one to bide time.
But you were always patient,
and with a touch or a word I was calm.

The worst waiting ever for me
was the same as the worst for you.
I charged and demanded action
and you let me, and it was ours.

It did not matter in the end
no rush was in time, no haste.
When I finally knew the time approached
I watched and learned to wait again.

And I may have been patient,
I may have let you bide your time.
A single touch calmed you,
and a word comforted.

I learned to hate waiting anew
not for the time it took,
but for the time it didn't,
and for the time it should have,
because nothing ever hurt more
than when the waiting was over.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

RiverMannonite pt. 3

I heard the spite and hatred in RiverMannonite's voice and perused him as he arched at the neck to glare, his teeth exposed, snaggled, broken and multi-hued in his curled-lip sneer. He began to struggle, his odd clothes now very obviously (if filthily) revelatory.

He seemed Amish, or perhaps Old Order in many ways. Certainly he was even if Otto wasn't.

He was not old and not young, but he was certainly not stoic or restrained, and one could only guess what he had left his community for, considering his tastes. Any of them would likely bring a shunning. Perhaps he had simply never ended his rumspringa.

Of course, there were other possibilities.

The security guards picked the man up and dusted him off, mostly just smearing the oily dirt on his dark vest. He looked away from me as one of them asked, "Do you want to press charges?"

Tori and the officers spoke and I wandered back to the store to report, knowing that, despite all of the "hubbub," Marcie would want the scoop. She looked up and shook her head.

"He's Amish!" I said in an exclamatory whisper. "HE called me 'English!' Isn't that crazy?

Her eyes were wide and she bit her lower lip. She nodded, "I knew it, I totally knew it. Didn't I say he was like Amish or a Quaker or something? I totally knew."

I listened as her mood turned and her smile grew. "He looked like someone from Witness or something when I first saw him," she said, leaning in close. "He has this really weird accent, too."

I nodded. "Yes, he does."

For weeks, I gathered information and shared it with Marcie, reading her bits and pieces of Amish trivia and tales when she came home. She was fascinated by Rumspringa and meidung.

Of course, fascination and imagination went hand in hand for Marcie, especially where odd people were involved. RiverMannonite was about to acquire a backstory.

And if the facts were not odd enough, the possibilities Marcie dreamed up were, certainly.

Friday, August 22, 2008


She sat on the couch with her feet propped on the table and a gigantic mug of coffee carefully nestled in her lap, supported by the folds of her kimono. She smiled as I came into the room and gently rocked her legs at the knees as her eyes followed me. I blushed and she sipped, and no one said, "good morning," because it was understood.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

RiverMannonite pt. 2

Marcie was surprised to see me that Wednesday. I slipped off the 25 and wandered into the Mission Valley Center mall, watching her from across the walkway as she worked for a few minutes. I walked in and waited by the counter.

"Hi, honey," she said, annoyance painted on her face, but curiosity and concern in her voice. "What brings you here?"

I smiled and hugged her, but she let me know there would be no smooching in the store with a tight-lipped glare. She whispered, "Our regional manager is in the back with Amy. Knock it off."

I decided to pick up a candy bar and whispered my apology as I let her go with a touch of the arm. She watched then returned to the register and counting out Maia. I went to the candy bar area.

Skor, $100,000 bar, Payday. I remember thinking of how capitalistically named candy bars were. I also considered the "Toffee Fay, it's too good for kids" campaign, obviously designed to pique children's interest.

By the time I had thought over the social engineering behind candies, staring at each one and finding fault with all of them, I was no longer in the mood for a candy bar. I wanted a soda. However, I was beginning to regret my logic as critical thinking and political science classes as I considered the misdeeds of the various soda companies.

The door entry ringer announced a new customer and I looked up to see a dirty, thin man of perhaps 30 walk in, hunched and his face down. I looked to Marcie.

"That's him," she mouthed, pointing over her head as he walked, and holding her nose, then sticking out her tongue, then holding her hand to her throat and making a "choking face" to emphasize her point. She rolled her eyes and glared at his back as he made a beeline for the feminine products.

I understood. He stank.I don't know if it was her obvious discomfort, his sullen look, or my own simple sense of trouble-making humor, but I decided to join him.

I looked over my shoulder at Marcie and she covered her face, shaking her head.

I sauntered up to him. "Nice stuff, huh?" I asked.

He ignored me and stared, mouth a little agape at the Tampax "easy-applicator" tampon box he had selected. I picked up a package of "super duty" CVS-branded maxi pads and looked at them for a minute, shaking my head as if in agreement.

"These are for the real bleeders, aren't they?" I asked, showing him the box.

He looked at me with the stare of a man unsure. I showed him the package and he dropped the Tampax to take it, which I picked up and replaced on the shelf.

"Real bleeders?" he said. "These are for blood?"

His breath smelled like he had eaten swamp rat stew and his body odor was noxious. He read the label and turned the box. "Where?" he asked . 'Where does it say for blood?"

He put the box back on the shelf and looked at me as if I had kicked his dog. He spoke again, a distinct hint of German in his voice. "You are a liar."

"No, no," I said. "These are for women to wear when they have their monthly periods."

He walked to the back of the store with a wave of his hand, as if to dismiss me. He began touching the cheap bras and I shrugged, walking back to the front. Marcie looked livid.

"Frank, knock it off," she said under her breath as I put a diet coke on the counter. "I am so embarrassed. Just please go home."

She grabbed the phone and looked right past me. "Hey! You have to pay for that!" she said as he flew out the door, bra clutched in his hand, ignoring her. She spoke into the phone.

"A guy in a black wide-brim hat and a vest just ran out with a bra and didn't pay," she said. "Yes! YES! That's him. Oh, thank you."

She took my money and shook her head. "Go home," she said. "I'll see you later."

Amy came out and waved a hello to me as I started to head for the door. "Marcie, did he just leave here with a bra?"

Marcie nodded.

"Okay, that's it," she said. "He is not stealing from here again. You called mall security?"

Marcie nodded, "They said they know who he is and they know how he'll try to get away."

Marcie darted a glance at me and Amy shook her head. "Okay, well, I will be at Mall security."

I decided to follow her and see what could be seen, but it turned out I didn't have to go far, and neither did she. There he was, on his belly, two fat security men, one Black and one White, holding him down as he spit and struggled next to their parking meter cart.

The bra was a few feet away, on the asphalt, grimy. RiverMannonite looked up at me, hateful and angry, "Stupid English! Now look! Look what happened!"

Suddenly, much of this made sense. But there were questions, and as he was hauled away, I decided to surprise Marcie with the answers.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Characters: RiverMannonite

Marcie's proximity to the river would, she said, almost always create a "parade of urchins from crazytown." She said that lovingly, and she was generally not very concerned at the number of homeless and uncommunicative drifters who floated in and back out through the doors of her CVS store.

There was one exception. Marcie was not comfortable around one person in particular, though she was able to make light of him. I only saw him once up close.

She had been calling him the Riverman for a long time. According to her, this was the young man who had been in an altercation with Otto. He always wore the same thing.

She told me about him it in lieu of explaining why she was tense one evening. Of course, I knew he was the source of the tension within a minute, as she sometimes did not directly answer me when I asked what was wrong.

"SO, this guy came into work, and he's kind of one of our freaks. He has a black hat with a brim, a vest with hooks and a collar-less, filthy white shirt," she said. "He wears old-fashioned spectacles and he stinks. And he's perverted."

"Perverted?" I asked. Marcie was not one to pay too much mind, which meant he was a bad case.

"Yes, but not like a flasher or anything," she said.

"Does he ogle you?" I asked.

"A little, but that's not what's perverted about him," she said. "He does that to everyone. You'll think I'm crazy if I tell you."

I shook my head. "No, I think you'll be fine. Tell me."

She leaned in close and spoke in a hushed tone. "Okay, so he comes in every once in a while and he walks around the store, then he goes to the women's section and looks at all the feminine hygiene products."

"Okay, so he looks at the douches and the napkins and tampons?" I asked, somewhat dismissive.

She grabbed my arm and pulled me a little closer.

"He gets off on it," she said. "I watched him stare... STARE at the Tampax  boxes one time for three hours, looking at the drawings. He started at the drawings on the maxipads, too, holding them in the light. He spent an hour smelling the box, looking at it, shaking it..."

I began to understand. "Wow, that's a little kooked."

She nodded silently in agreement. "He also plays with the cheap underwear and the bras we have in the back," she said. "And he touches everything. Then, he leaves really fast, every time, and he kind of gives me this nasty smile when he leaves. It's SO GROSS!"

I laughed and she began to crack up. "You know he's going to find a bathroom for a private moment," she joked. "Ohhh, seeexy... a tampon, oh yeah. Ha!"

The stress melted off her, but she was not completely relaxed. "He always smells like the river, too. The whole place stinks when he leaves like rotten water."

She started chopping onions and paused. "He gives me these totally nasty looks, too, when I watch him," she said. "It sucksthat he's started to come back in again. Ugh."

So I decided that I would have to lay eyes on him, and perhaps send a nasty look of my own his way. I would also find out there was more to this character than a fetish, homelessness and a lack of hygiene.

Monday, August 18, 2008

What a bummer, but also an opportunity

So, today Marcie received her renewal for a driver's license in the mail. I have come to expect the endless entreaties for aid from the animal charities, the cancer materials from Kaiser, the Komen information and the book clubs, magazine renewal appeals and requests from NetFlix.

How is it that the state cannot figure out she is gone?

It hit me very hard today to read their little reminder for her to send them money and renew her license. But then it struck me. I could have a nice, new copy of her license, renewed past her death, with a clear picture of her from a healthier time.

I just may do it and then write a report about it. It would help the state deficit, too, I imagine.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hard Listening

They listen so they will not feel
the pounding.
I pass them by.
Their ears are sealed.
Every voice they hear is a choice,
and never their own,
and rarely is it one they love.

I listen so I can still hear
the whispers
that pass them by.
My ears are clear.
Every hint of you is so choice,
as you were my own.
and remain the one I yearn for.

Friday, August 15, 2008

MumbletyPeggy (pt. 2)

The black veils rustled as the little figure turned to Marcie then looked away. Peggy muttered and made intricate  motions with her clawlike fingers in the air in fron of her, waving them at the rows of painkillers.

I stayed back and was going to go wait by Maia when I heard the mumbles.

"Oh, oh, oh no. Oh no!" she said, her voice low and her. "Oh what does she WANT?! Oh, dear, what does she WANT?"

I stayed back bnut just within earshot as I saw Marcie's toes lift... and fall. Lift... and fall. She waited, then spoke.

"Would you like a basket for your stuff so you don't have to carry them in your pocket, Peggy?" Marcie asked, looking smug and absolutely not in the least bit fazed as the gestures became more agitated and rapid.

Marcie stepped back and grabbed a blue hand basket, then held it out, its two handles open. "Just put them in there and you can carry this while you shop for all your things," Marcie said.

Peggy's hand clenched into a crooked, aged fist and then her fingers flicked and shook as she made repeated grabbing motions in the air.

"So she so she so she so she does, does, does that she does, and she knows, knows, knows." the croaking voice, clearer and older now, crackled. "Fine."

Her gnarled talons, now clearer still as she turned to Marcie, flicked in unison, then her left hand snaked into her dress and the other shook and waved up and down a little. A box of Advil rattled several times, two or three in the air above the basket, before she dropped them in it.

Marcie handed Peggy the basket and Peggy took it and marched away, her veils clinging to her face a little as she walked rapidly down the aisle. Marcie waited and watched in th mirrors, then changed lanes to the snack aisle.

Marcie watched her like a hawk. The woman wandered the aisles and threw random items into the basket, her hands each time making a pattern of passes and gestures in front of the shelf before dropping the items in.

A cinstant stream of gibberish punctuated by her stream of thought in words poured forth:

"Msh mup mup mup Mup MUP!

"Whir whir whir whir whir whir whir were not whir word."

"Where did she go where did she go where did she go? Go go go?" she said. "No. No. No. She didn't go, she didn't go."

Whenever Peggy noticed Marcie watching, the babble took on a different tone and Peggy would make wild, lingering ritualistic gestures, occasionally freezing her hand in some contorted state and turning back to the products.

Marcie looked over at me and shook her head, then turned her attention back to Peggy.

"Are you ready, Peggy?" she asked. "Should I help you carry your stuff?"

Marcie walked down and Peggy handed her the basket, loaded with yarn and candy and various  medicine and drugstore items. Marcie waited and put out her hand.

Peggy reached into her clothes and produced a container of Maalox.

Marcie sighed, putting it in the basket and putting her hand out again. Peggy this time produced a large bottle of Centrum vitamins, a small stuffed Winnie the Pooh car mirror hanger, and a silver-topped ball point pen.

"Oh, that's all, all all," she muttered. "Smumf smuf smuff smumf."

Marcie gestured for Peggy to go to the front counter ahead of her and the crone's wobble turned into a rustling, off-kilter but high-speed stagger. She walked right past me, past the registers and to the door.

"No, I don't, I don't, I don't," she said as she turned and this time flicked her hair and veils off her face, revealing her angry snarl of a visage and raising her hand, which slipped and flopped and grasped and made fists of itself at a fever pitch.

Her free hand flipped her veils away from her shoulder and she opened her left eye. She appeared to be aiming, but then I noticed her right eye was closed as if sewn that way, and the skin there did not frame a socket so much as sag and pool atop the cheekbone.

"Mmmm, mmm, mmm you," she said as Marcie came and stood next to me, staring at her dispassionately. "You you you you YOU! MMMM! MMMMMFSH!"

Now both her hands flipped and clawed at air in intricate patterns that had to be killer for any arthritis she may have suffered, but she persisted and her face twisted into a grimace and a one-eyed squint.

"Huu- UH!" she said, then slipped through the door, pulling her veils back down as she mumbled off into the mall, her voice fading as she went past the store glass. "She, she, she she does and she knows, and mmm mmm mmm..."

I turned to Marcie and she closed her eyes and shook her head, then sighed. "She is so crazy," she said. "If she didn't shoplift every time, almost, I would enjoy watching her anyways."

Marcie looked at me as I stared at her and rolled her eyes, then mocked Peggy's hand movements, closing one eye. "I, I, I have, have have, have to put it all back, back back!" she said, exasperated, then turned and got to it as I guffawed.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


I went and visited Marcie at CVS several times, all but two of them completely against her will. Nevertheless, her coworkers were nice and she admitted years later that she enjoyed my visits.

One of those visits was more than a little entertaining. It happened to be one I was invited to conduct. Marcie and I were going to head to the cafe by May Company and enjoy a lunch, then after her work day ended see a movie.

We needed no movie that night.

I was engaging Marcie in very light banter, whiling away time in the near-vacant store as she tended the front counter. Her eyes locked and then narrowed and she looked past me as a hunched, black-garbed figure tottered in.

"Smsh mup rummum mubbum mum," a distinctly female but whispery voice said, the sounds wafting out from under multiple veils of black lace under a wide-brimmed hat. I saw no face.

Marcie watched and made eye contact with a coworker named Maia, who came to the front and took over the counter. Marcie slipped out from behind it, eyes locked on the slow, unsteady figure as it lurched and hobbled into the aisles.

The words became clearer but no more sensible as we got closer.

"So she so she so she so she does, does, does, goes there, she does, yes, yes, yes," the woman said under her masking veils. "I know. I know. I know."

I looked at Marcie, who stood with one arm under her breasts and the other propped on its hand, playing with the curls by her ear as she watched intently.

"Who is..." I started to ask, but her hand stopped me cold.

She leaned in close. "That's Peggy," she said, quietly. "She's a regular but you have to watch her or she leaves without paying. She hates me because I watch her the whole time and I make her show me ID when she writes her checks."

Peggy had offended Marcie by screaming bloody murder when she was caught leaving the store with unpaid-for goods. She made good, but a security guard had yelled at Marcie for stopping Peggy and bringing her back in by the arm.

"Everybody was looking at me and thought I was totally abusing her," she said. "And that's just too bad, because I don't care what age you are. Nobody shoplifts from me."

But her actions had ended with her boss allowing the woman to return. That did not mean Marcie let her get away with anything. In fact, Marcie was now even tougher with Peggy.

"I do not like her," she said. "So I just watch her and let her get pissed off at me. I don't care if she doesn't like it."

Marcie cut off the conversation and marched forward as Peggy pulled a large container of Advil off the shelf and into her many layers of clothes. She smiled and turned her head a bit, looking down at the woman.

"Can I help you with that Advil, Peggy? Do you want to know how much it cost?" she asked.

And that's how the MumbletyPeggy game began.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Call for Input-When Marcie made you laugh

Okay, folks. I need your help. I am going to write about The Mumbler and RiverMannonite next, but Marcie had a beautiful wit and a very unique sense of humor. I would like to share that side of her, as well.

Marcie interacted with me differently from how she she interacted with her friends. Share some of your stories about your moments of silliness, joy or humor with her with me and let me know if i can post them.

Moments of her wisdom, intelligence, cleverness or quirkiness would be wonderful to share, too.

Thanks, folks!

Monday, August 11, 2008

San Francisco Trip Part 2

Ah, vacation(s). On August 29th, I will be in San Francisco, visiting Jane and Christina and perhaps scouting. This is something I have been forced to put off time and time again as the school district and other items have thrown me curve balls.

Just know that there will be many images and possibly some films. Unfortunately, the long trip along Big Sur from last time will not be repeated. I am a flying fool.

There will be a visit to Izakaya for sure. I wonder if everything is still "gorgeouth."

Muahaha. I plan to wreck the place. Hell, I need to. In a Marcie-approved way, of course.

When booking my little room in Japantown, I noted all rooms are for two adults (assumed) when reserved. Sure I am happy to be going, but those little things really sober you up.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Remaking the Bed

Before Marcie passed, I had been suffering in the bed. No in the way you might infer I intend to convey, but in regards to comfort. It was a strange thing to have a disagreement on.

It started two years before she passed, and it was a seriously bad item to discuss.

"The bed is tilted," I said. "I hate my side of it, I feel like I am going to roll off."

She huffed a little and looked over as she hospital-cornered the sheet and shook her head. "We can't buy another bed," she said. "It's not crooked, you're just crazy."

"I swear it's off a little," I said. "There's a serious slope on the bed. I feel like I am going to just roll off and I wake up all night worrying."

"Whatever, Frank," she said. "But for me, this is just your latest crazy obsession with something. If it isn't the television having a hum in it, which I don't hear, then it's the phone being hot or the water being metallic. My response is the same."

I looked at her and shook my head. She was just not interested.

"You're crazy, you're obsessive, and I love you, but please, don't drive me crazy with this, okay?" she asked, holding my hands in hers and pouting a little.

"K, fine," I said. "But why not change sides and you tell me?"

She glared. I had asked her to change sides on the bed and the universe had just gasped in horror.

"That is my side of the bed and I cannot sleep on yours, it doesn't have a window and it's by the door, which I totally hate," she said. "Now stop it."

Of course I mentioned it every couple of weeks when i would slip into bed. It remained that way until the week she took to a new bed in our living room, a hospital bed, whereupon I slept nearby on the couch.

For the last 9 months I have tried to sleep on our bed and have finally found that her side of the bed is flat and comfortable. The mystery of my still-sloping side remained that. Finally, today, the mystery was solved.

Perhaps I had been so fat the mattress flattened under me? No, I flipped it often. Perhaps it was the floor? No, I checked it with a level. Perhaps the underlying box spring was propped?

I have flipped the king-sized mattress a dozen times. This time, when I did, it became stuck on the light fixture. I looked and saw, wedged up on the base of the box-spring half of what was my Marcie's side, the headboard side of my own box spring, its base overlapping by a centimeter.

Only the top was wedged up, hidden against the wall and under the mattress and obscured by the foot, which was not wedged. The box spring eventually settled normally at the foot of the bed, the distance and weight allowing it to look well-seated, preserving the mystery all that time.

I took it all apart and found out the frame was bolted narrower at the head end. I fixed it and popped everything into place.

As I slept in it this week, I remembered asking her in those final weeks, before she was hospitalized and when she was just tired, whether she felt a slope. She had to use my side, as it was closer to the bathroom and easier for me to help her out of bed.

"Frank!" she growled through clenched teeth, fiery and beautiful and sick but stubborn. "There is no stupid slop on the stupid bed, so just drop it and move on! I asked you not to drive me crazy about this and for two years it has been your thing. Now knock it off!"

Thoroughly chastened, I kissed her on the cheek and nodded. I was happy. She had not been so animated in two weeks.

She called me back when I left. "Frank, I love you," she said. "I'm sorry I yelled. It does feel lumpy, but it doesn't feel crooked or anything, okay? I am sorry I called you crazy."

"Okay, sweetie," I said, hugging her."

And that was fine.

She said, "Okay, you can go now, I need to sleep. Good night."

I love that, even as the end approached, she felt it more important to stick to her guns than placate or indulge me overmuch. She had such a strong and stubborn spirit. But she was not remorseless in it. I know she realized I had been putting up with it a long time.

I think she was secretly pleased that I would when she found out, and that's fine, too. I would have put up with even more to lay next to her, this was just a little proof.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Mischief from an earlier time

"So what's up, Mr. Francis Stanley Pruett?" it read, her soft, elegant cursive out of place on the carefully folded notebook paper.

I looked over at her and listened as Ken Norton, our speech professor, droned on about persuasive and forensic speaking and the subtle difference between snooze and bore. I smiled as he scanned the class's eyes, including mine, then took my pen.

I scribbled as he took the chalk and turned his back.

"You know what's up," I replied, replicating her secret triangle perfectly and tossing it, letting it skip off her book and bounce off the wall into her lap.

She took it and read, then rolled her, eyes, looking at me and shrugging as if to say, "No I don't."

It grabbed my crotch and made a pained expression, then, making sure Ken was busy, let my tongue hang out of my mouth as I stared blankly at her and rocked my hips.

Her eyes went wide, her ears reddened with her cheeks and she bit her lower lip, glaring as if to say "stop" as I fluttered my eyelids in mock ecstasy. I heard the chalk hit the tray and returned to my note-taking posture.

"And Frank, if I were to say that enthymemes were employed..." he asked, his hands on his hips.

"We would be talking about a forensic speech in which certain key elements were left implied," I said.

He smiled, and I realized he was just asking his go-to student, not really after me, but Marcie smiled when he turned away again and pointed, mouthing, "ha ha," and squinting with her tongue at her teeth as if having a little laugh.

I smiled and listened to Kenn for a bit, then started to fold a piece of paper when the original hit me in the head.

"Everyone was watching you," she wrote. "Do something else."

I smiled and wrote back, "Sure," then folded it all back together.

I also finished my own little magic triangle and wrote, "So, what's up, Miss Marcelyn Ann Stoddard?" I tossed it back to her when he turned for a bare second, then waited. Ken started writing on the board and I stood, looked at her and thrust my hips before sitting down.

The classroom rustled a bit and Marcie hid her head in her book, her ears beet red. Ken stopped and turned. The chuckles subsided and he smiled as I adjusted interestedly in my desk.

My own came back and read.

"I have a bottle of wine for our picnic tonight... or not," she had written.

We drank it at the break, sharing only a few sips with out classmate, a Texan who had given us all a harrowing story of eating pork and developing worms in her brain.

How do you not give someone like that something to drink? Even if you're a bastard, she is bound to tell you something amusing.

It didn't matter at the time. We decided to finish class drunk after downing the whole bottle in 30 minutes.

It was the best day in speech class... ever.