Thursday, February 28, 2008

All Work and Not Really Play

Last night as I entered the women’s locker room at the gym, I noticed a sign posted on the wall. Scanning it quickly, my mind registered a few words. 6:00 PM, kickboxing and one night only.

In the enclosed workout room where they hold group classes, I noticed considerable busyness with the sound system. I had wanted to try kickboxing, but I have some chest congestion and felt tonight wouldn’t be a good night to try. I went on with my own routine since it was only 5:30 anyway.

When 6:00 rolled around, the music from the room was overpowering the gym. I was a bit annoyed by this since I was at the far end away from the group workout room. At 6:10 I finished with my own cardio, and moved to the free weight section which is closer. A group was standing along the front watching through the windows. I didn’t pay much attention.

While using the free weights, the music was now overpowered my MP3 player. I turned it off and tucked it and the earphones into my pocket. I stayed focused on my own routine, until slowly, I became aware that there was something significant taking place. I dropped what I was doing to stand with the gawkers and watch through the glass.

The wall to ceiling mirrors were steamed over as they are when you get out of the shower. The energy being expended was that great. The windows we watched through were fogged over as well, so that it radiated from the edges inward leaving little peep holes of clear visibility through the center. The tempo of the music, was like that of a locomotive, bearing down on me, keeping the group in rhythm.

The women and men where arranged in a circular fashion, not in the rows I usually witness for regular aerobic class. The leader in the center. She was tall and sinewy, if you can call women sinewy, without an ounce of fat anywhere. Her energy seemed limitless and she pushed the class onward. Their feet going continually, in the rapid foot drills often seen in regular boxing, but taken up a notch or two. Punch punch, kick kick in steady unrelenting succession. Streams, not beads, of sweat streaming down faces and dripping to the floor, their faces red with exertion. I had two thoughts. One: I’m glad I didn’t join this class. Two: I’m sorry I didn’t join this class.

Now my curiosity got the better of me and I started asking questions of the bystanders. “Who is that woman?” The reply, “Sherri! She trains the New England Patriots Cheerleaders!” If I thought cheerleading wasn’t work, I know better now.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Unexpected Friends

When Char first began at the office, she would eye me suspiciously whenever I entered the sales department. If I didn’t jingle my keys or clear my throat when I entered the area, she would jump at my approach, and eye me suspiciously until I finished with my errand. At other times, I would be lost in my work, my full attention on the task at hand, when I would turn and there she’d be. Jumping out of my skin, she would step aside, and without further adieu, take her leave.

It went on this way for some months. My curiosity had me watching her comings and goings. She and Matt is seems, are very close. They arrived together, take their breaks together, and end the day together. Each attentive and in tune with the other. He holds the door, she always waits patiently whenever he is distracted.

Char is a good looking blond with soulful eyes that seem to watch the world with such seriousness, it unsettles me at times. She keeps to herself, at the sidelines, yet you are aware that she never misses any of what is going on about her. It’s been a long slow process, but Char and I are finding our way to friendship.

She began to take interest in me by way of what I brown bag for lunch. Each morning she came around my desk to inspect my clothing, and eye my bag. At other times, I would here footsteps and there she would be as I popped my treasure into the microwave. It was on one such day, that I noticed a hint of amusement in those soulful eyes.

These days, Char anticipates my lunch time arrival. However, she no longer comes to watch what I prepare, but from her station, looks up, and sniffs the air. That is when we make eye contact that tells me of her approval or disapproval of the lunch menu. Now, when I walk by her, she greats me hello, lets me by, and says “enjoy your lunch”, by way of her tail thumping the floor. I lean forward, give her a pat on the head, and say “good girl Char! Good girl!”

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Every Breath

My head can’t find the surface. There is a deep intense burning in my chest. I kick and thrash about, arms flailing in search of a handhold, and finding nothing. I’m trying to see, but only small pin pricks of light swirl in my field of vision. Then, I come fully awake, sitting bolt upright in bed gasping for air.

My cold has turned nasty overnight. My nose, ears and sinuses are all congested. I start to cough in earnest and the chest burns again at the attempt to breathe. This is not good, but I’m awake. The drowning was a dream. I sit upright for a long while, letting my nose and sinuses drain so that I can take a decent lung full of sweet oxygen. I will not sleep again this night.

In the darkness, as I calm my heart rate and use meditative methods to quite my body and focus on each breath, it isn’t my own struggle that is distressing me. A startling realization of just what others have suffered is.

Last night, I watched an episode of 48 hours about a serial killer’s strangulation victims. I’m now thinking about these four women and their last moments on this earth. Struggling, gasping for air, their lungs burning, their head swimming and the last pin pricks of light before their breath came no more. Until this intense burning in my chest at lack of air, I had little understanding of dying by strangulation.

Then there is my friend, who found himself gasping for air at work, and drove himself to the hospital. Despite the cold weather, he needed to run the air conditioner in his truck and keep his face near the vents just to get enough air and make it to the hospital. His blood pressure was sky high, his heart rate nearing 180, his lung capacity reduced to 20 percent function. The diagnosis eventually determined as occupational asthma. In his retelling of this event to me, I had no understanding at the time of the fear of death that enveloped him. He said to me, “I made my peace.”

Other people are flashing into my mind, like visitors in the night. Their image vivid and the recollection of them so real and tangible, that should I have tried, I could have reached out and stroked their faces. There is my neighbor, who perished in an earthen collapse while digging a well with his son-in-law. The young boy, from the neighborhood where I grew up, who dug a tunnel into the side of the sandpits, the grains of sand, then sliding in around him like a million tiny ball bearings to entomb and take him for their own.

I’m not sure why these individuals are tapping my shoulder this night. I could just have easily realized my congestion, attended to it and returned to sleep. But these people will not let me rest. Are their spirits restless? Do the dead try to teach us lessons? Am I supposed to become enlightened in some way? I don’t have any answers. With every breath I take, what I hope is that those who loved them never have such an awareness, but should they, I now have more compassion for their suffering than I did an hour before.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

175th Year: An Anniversary Celebration

The Peterborough Town Library will be celebrating their 175 anniversary in April. “The Peterborough Town Library, established 1833, is the oldest public library in the world.” In celebration, the Library will host a number of events that day. The Monadnock Writers’ Group, of which I am a member, has been invited to participate. Twelve members will read for ten minutes each. The Group comprises a broad spectrum of genre from poetry, memoirs, essays, fiction and the like. I will be one among the twelve readers. My intention at this time is to read Aiden, an account of events surrounding my grandson’s arrival on this earth. However, I have time to consider my options.

In any event, Aiden will be published shortly at our online literary magazine, Ad Hoc Monadnock Online. The group is in the process of resurrecting this online magazine and should become live sometime this month. If you cannot make the event you may read my personal essay here. Writing is my passion, and I am pleased to be considered as one of the twelve readers.

Friday, February 15, 2008

More to the Story than Meets the Eye

Andy and I make our way to Giorgio’s, a local restaurant in town. For Valentine’s Day Giorgio’s is featuring a special Valentine menu. No other offering is available except selections from this menu. Reservations are required. No walk-ins will be seated this night.

When we arrive the place is packed. Our seven o’clock reservation is pushed back a bit, so we sit at the bar with drinks in hand. Valentine’s Day is special to us, as we became engaged on this day. At first, we have eyes only for each other as we reminisce about that day so long ago. It’s always the same, retold as if scripted. With each year, one or both of us add to the tale, and relate something never shared before in the way only a thirty year relationship would be comfortable doing. We chuckle at the observation or admit to having knowledge of this or that.

The conversation unfolds into wondering about the couples here tonight. We look around the room at each table. The generations are equitably represented, from young to middle-aged to aging. We speculate on each of their stories as we observe the body language of man and woman. Yes, our first observation is that they are all man and woman couples. I am oddly unsettled by this fact. I’m sure same sex couples enjoy fine dinning just as much as the next person. We speculate that there is some event we are unaware of, and move on with our people watching.

At a corner table is a middle aged gentleman with a woman who appears much younger than he. They proceed at a measured pace with each course. Her left hand is resting on the table, and his right hand covers hers. It remains there through the entire meal. We decide they are still in the infatuation phase of their relationship. I’m happy for the thirty years that let’s me break my bread with both hands and wonder if they have skipped the bread. I can tell my priorities are not theirs.

There is an older couple sitting to my far left. She is wearing thick dark rimmed glasses, and a tan suede jacket. This is the short waisted type, where the fuzzy insides are showing at the stitched seams. It appears to be more of a man’s jacket than a woman’s jacket. She never removes it the entire evening although the temperature here is comfortable. The man sitting across from her has a part in his hair that starts just above the right ear. He looks bored. Or is that tolerant? She turns to look for the waiter, and her features are pinched with a furrowed brow above the dark rimmed glasses. I don’t think they are having fun yet.

Near us is a young couple. They don’t appear to be married, but are comfortable with each other. The woman is blond and has her hair pulled back in a ponytail. She is wearing beat-up jeans, which to me, is inappropriate for a special night out. Her legs are crossed in tomboy fashion, with the ankle on the knee. Andy spots this first. He mentions it several times. I can see that watching her sit this way in the restaurant seems improper to him. The young man is dark haired, and he has it slicked back with something that keeps his hair looking damp. He is serious the entire evening. We speculate that he is trying to avoid saying anything that is upsetting. The young woman does most of the talking, but she is more interested in the food than the attentive young man.

Against the wall is an anorexic looking woman with long auburn hair. She has it bubbled up in front on the top of her head, probably to give the illusion of height, with the rest trailing to her shoulders It’s a dated hairdo for sure. The skin on her face is sallow, and every bone is prominent. I recently watched a news story about twin anorexic sisters, and this woman’s face has that same look. Being frugal as I am, I can’t help but think this guy is throwing away fifty-five bucks, the cost per-person tonight. The woman is animated and never stops talking. All the while, she seldom looks his way; instead the eyes are rolling this way and that all around the room. Is she worried she will be spotted? The man looks like Gaston from the 1991 Disney version of Beauty and the Beast. Somehow this leaves me feeling he is as arrogant. I know! Stereotyping is a terrible thing.

Andy is kicking me under the table. He tells me to look over my shoulder. I turn, and behind me is a young couple. The woman has her back to me. All I see is a long bridal veil trailing down from her head to within inches of the floor. She is not wearing a gown, but something similar to a Thai silk jacket and trousers. The trousers, are ivory colored and I can’t see much of the jacket. Both appear to be ill fitting, loose and baggy so that there is no hint of shape or form beneath.

The groom is wearing a dark suit. His shirt is ruffled, but there is no tie of any kind at the neck. Although the collar is buttoned to the top, it bends this way and that away from his neck and is obviously a size or two larger than he needs. They appear a perfect match in respect to ill fitting clothing. He looks like a deer in headlights. This thought no sooner pops into my head, when Andy says “that guy is saying to himself, ‘what the hell have I done!’” I chuckle, because it certainly fits the expression.

Andy is facing their direction so has a better view than I do. Suddenly he says “uh oh, she just spilled something on herself”, to which I turn again. All I catch is the veil fluttering behind her as she races off to the ladies room to dab at the stain. The groom has plenty of time to bolt, but he does not, although the knee is bobbing up and down while he waits. Noticing that he doesn’t bold is a good sign. He waits patiently. She returns. Despite the nature of their dress, how odd their behavior seems, I can’t help but feel there is something special happening here. The waiter approaches, they have a few words. They shake hands all around in congratulations. The groom's expression has softened. He smiles at his bride. As we take our leave of the restaurant, I can’t help but imagine how this story will be retold and embellished in the next thirty years.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


I sit cross-legged,
eyes gently closed,
the heat of the sun streaming
through the plate glass window,
warming my winter tired bones.
Hands rest one on each knee,
my back straight,
head erect.
I do not empty my mind,
but instead create a moment
away from this place.
I wait.

Soon, the wind
is whistling past my ears,
the horizon tilting in my vision,
the scent of lilacs is in my nostrils.
The warm sun is glinting
off chrome,
heat rising from the pavement,
the sun’s glare
causing me to squint
despite dark glasses.

My hands
feel the vibration in the grips,
the saddle
sure between my thighs.
My concentration
is sharp and keen
to every movement
left and right.
The ribbon of road
slips away behind me
and with it
every unsettling concern.

I sense that time is up.
Slowly and with deliberate care,
I open my eyes.
I observe the great expanse
around me.
feeling the hollow emptiness
trapped by these four walls.
I watch the shadowed patterns
at the window.

I rise,
refusing to look too closely
at this place
and make my way
back to reality.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Sea of Limitless Opportunity

My daughter gave me a book for Christmas entitled Soul Lessons and Soul Purpose written by Sonia Choquette. I’ve read a few of her books before and have found bits of wisdom to carry way. I have two valuable pieces of advice from these books, and now I have two more to add from this one as well.

One piece of advice Sonia gives about finding your purpose, is that if you love something you should attend to it daily. In six months, see where it takes you. To this advice I applied my love of writing. I followed the steps she suggested. “Tell everyone you know” that you love to write and attend to your dream “daily.” It is by this avenue, that I came to have some great supporters of my efforts, and even my own personal freelance editor who reviews, corrects, and comments on the more serious items I’m considering for publication. He has been a great resource. It has helped him also with his dream of becoming a freelance editor. In his telling me this, I pointed a new writing acquaintance in his direction. Sonia’s method perpetuates.

Within the six-month period specified, I became “published” seriously for the first time, when my article appeared in Biker Ally, a motorcycle magazine dedicated to women motorcycle riders. I continue to write daily as Sonia suggests, and I find great satisfaction in my fingers on the keyboard. I have several arenas for my writing material. Some I post here in my blog, some I reserve for manuscript submissions to a variety of venues, which include magazines and literary contests. Why do I spread my manuscripts around? It’s because of the advice in this current book. I’m “fishing in the Divine Sea of Possibility.” I’ve refreshed this to my own liking and refer to it as fishing in the Limitless Sea of Opportunity.

When you drop your line into water, you believe there are fish below the surface. Patience is required, as you can’t expect to drop the line in and pull out a prize instantly. So it is with reaching any goal. Although you may not know exactly where the “fish” are, if you dangle your hook long enough, chances are you will be rewarded. If you cast your net wider, you could be surprised by the catch. I anticipate being surprised, and pleased. The possibilities and opportunities are limitless!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Motorcycle Guardian Angels

Independent of the weather, there are signs that motorcycle season is upon us. Tomorrow will find me at the Northeast Motorcycle Expo in Boston, an event that is sure to get the adrenaline running, and have me dreaming of warm sunny days with Jade.

Each year as the riding season comes into full swing, the New England Riders begin talking about riding gear, road hazards, (sand on the roadways after snowmelt) and safety. We have many lively discussions on the forum related to these topics. What is little discussed is the variety of trinkets worn, hung or otherwise displayed on their motorcycles as extra protection or insurance for a safe riding season. You’ve seen them, the gremlin bells to ward off evil road spirits, the skulls to prove you can defy death, and the angel pins and zipper pulls. None would consider leaving home without their totem of choice.

I am not exempt when it comes to safety superstitions. I have a few of my own. I have four angels to whom I pray for protection before any sojourn on Jade. Each offers me protection in keeping with their specialty. These four angels are listed in the following categories: Cherubim and Seraphim, Cerebrum and Cerebellum.

You’re confused? You say you are familiar with Cherubim and Seraphim but feel I’m mistaken with the last two? Well certainly we know that Cherubim means “to be near” which is certainly what I want when asking for protection against roadway dangers. “Dear Lord, send your angel to be near me and keep me safe from harm.” The angel most likely to be dispatched is the Cherubim. We also are familiar with Seraphim with means "to consume with fire" which in ancient times meant to purify. How can purification keep me safe? Consider being mentally preoccupied with troubles, having just had an argument, or any other emotion that would keep one from paying attention. On a motorcycle, inattention is the surest way to injury or worse. With this in mind, I want to be cleansed of any emotional upset that would result in harm. Therefore, Seraphim is there as well to purify my heart and soul for the journey ahead.

Angels work in teams, I believe, and although Cherubim and Seraphim are good at what they do, I can’t forget about Cerebrum and Cerebellum. The first processes sensory information, reasoning and language. The second, processes body balance and muscular coordination. Without these two intact and protected, riding a motorcycle would be impossible. Cerebrum instructs me, first and foremost, to wear my helmet. Jacket and boots added for good measure. All good reasoning. Cerebellum keeps me balanced and coordinated while riding. Motorcycles do, after all, have only two wheels. Balance and coordination are paramount.

You don’t have to be a motorcyclist to have these angels in your life. Angels often manifest themselves in the most unexpected places or people. If you think carefully, I bet you can think of a few instances where the Cherubim and Seraphim were with you, and if you failed to heed your own Cerebrum and Cerebellum, someone who loves you loaned you theirs.

Ride Safe!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Lost Satellite Reception

I jump out of my skin at the unexpected voice saying, “lost satellite reception!” My quiet meditation, as I drive along, is shattered by the disembodied voice coming from the GPS. My skin prickles with the impression that an unseen entity is monitoring my private thoughts.

I certainly feel as if I have lost satellite reception and have temporarily lost my way. Another opportunity has yet again slipped my grasp. I feel relief and disappointment at the same time.

Recently I tuned in to watch the new episode of Lost. The survivors of Oceanic flight 815 are rescued and returned to the real world. Yet, their lives are in more shambles than when they were stranded on an obscure island in the middle of nowhere. In fact, while castaways, their existence had more meaning and their goals were more clearly defined. Like the survivors of Oceanic flight 815, could it be possible that I’m where I should be?

We all have feelings that we have not yet arrived, yet in the striving toward our destiny, we are actually attending to our true purpose. The world and its trappings are a distraction telling us what we should want. While stranded, the survivors realized their true greatness. When returned to the real world, the distractions of life made them fearful. There is a lesson here for me it seems. With the GPS, an adjustment of the receiver soon locks back on to the celestial orbiting vehicles and is on tract again. An adjustment of my expectations possibly? On the other hand, it could be as simple as being off course and needing to recalculate the route to my destination.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Mistaken Identity

Yesterday, in a discussion at work about blogging for a living, a colleague mentioned his former manager, Bob. The company Bob now works for, Infoglide has daily blog posts at their website. Since Bob used to compliment my weekly newsletter, I thought I would check out the blog. First I stopped to check out Infoglide’s business focus. I read through the following:

Infoglide Software's proven identity resolution technology allows organizations to determine the true identities of their customers, vendors, and employees.

To my great amusement, I read the most recent entry entitled, Mistaken Identity Resolution.In this blog post, the writer has a number of examples of identity mistakes. Have you ever been mistaken on the street for someone famous, of worse, someone infamous?

I often have people approach me and say “don’t I know you?” They don’t. Back in my 20’s a friend of my husband’s often accused me of being a snob. He would see me drive by in my Volkswagen Beetle every day. He’d stand on the street corner and wave, and I would just drive on by. One day, I walked to the corner store, where I ran into the friend. “Well” he said, “now you don’t have any excuse to ignore me.” As he once again described how I continually drive by, how he’d wave and how I ignored him, along came a VW. He stopped short, pointed and said, “and there you go again!” Sure enough, there was a woman, who looked a lot like me, driving by in a black VW Beetle. In my teens, when I was much thinner and had long straight hair, people often said I could pass for Cher. Cher’s aged better than I have. Then again, she can afford a nip and tuck now and again. Why am I so amused at where Bob has found himself? Because Bob’s full name is Bob Barker. How fitting that he finds himself working to keep identities straight!