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Until my parents offered me a stick of "Big Red," I thought only girls chewed gum. Even at the age of three, the moving of the mouth, the clacking of the tongue, and the blowing of the occasional bubble seemed rather feminine to me. Besides, I had only seen my mother, and Erica, the daughter of my dad's best friend, chew it. But since my parents were suggesting I try it, I decided it was not a threat to my masculinity.

Once the cinnamon taste exploded into my mouth though, I grew terribly afraid. I didn't know what to do next! For how long did I keep chewing? What happened if I were to swallow it? Would I choke? Would this be how I …

If I’m lucky or cursed enough, I may get to live for thirty more years or so. That would put me well into my eighties. Along the way, my skin and bones will wear and tear and I’ll drop an occasional screw or two. Teeth and eyesight will crumble and fade. Memory, desire and reasoning will exit the body. Eventually it will all collapse completely. Slowly, randomly, privately, I will fall apart. Like all things fallible, I will just stop.

That’s okay. Nothing lasts forever. But while I’m here, I’d like to pass the time in relative ‘togetherness’. I don’t want to end my life, a limp limbless vegetable in some aseptically clean setting. That’s week-old asparagus in Safeway’s produce aisle. No, I’ll …

Met him, loved him, hate him.

Early in July of 1969 I proudly suited up in my blue blazer and bow tie for my very first airplane flight—a family trip to Miami from which I brought back pilot’s wings and my first case of sunburn. Only a couple of weeks later, Apollo 11 and its three astronauts would win the Space Race. This week, as pundits wax poetic about the cultural significance of the first moonwalk, I recall a slightly fussy and fastidious five-year-old who found three heroes in a time when they were in scarce supply for a future gay kid enthralled with the Huntley/Brinkley Report, Jo Ann Worley on Laugh-In and Benny Goodman’s more jitterbug-worthy compositions.

I was a constant source of amusement, even bemusement. “He’s so…creative,” …

My older brother George went to Woodstock back in 1969. He was 21 and I remember him just up and leaving one day to go to some concert in NY. I never paid much attention to it and it wasn't until recently with the upcoming 40th anniversary of Woodstock that I reflect on it. I talked to George recently (now 61) and he seemed to remember mainly one thing about it...mud.
I suppose many who were there have their own faded memories....


Twang…twang…hummm…twang…buzz…
oh hello, didn’t see you there. I was just flubbing around here on the old guitar trying to remember that song by that group… what was there name? They were at Woodstock. Country Joe and something. Canned Tuna? …

We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable. how does this happen? how can we lose such control over our own thoughts, our own actions, our own lives. i heard once that a defect of the alcoholic mind is that of survival. in some strange brain wave we feel that we fear that we will not survive. that we need to consume to maintain. i didn't understand that at first, but, after paying attention to how i do things, i understand. i do not know how to explain it, i can just feel it. i just want to consume things, constantly. i must keep busy. when i am idle …

It moves in and out of me like a slow and steady breath. my head has been buzzing for hours...i finally know what to do. there is a bed. not a normal bed, more like a massage table. rope, lots of rope, enough so that you cannot move. i do not gag you, i want to hear you speak. that's all i ever wanted. my favorite knife awaits my touch. i have been shining it for hours, watching you. i give it the satisfaction of picking it up...it has been calling my name, whispering sweet nothings into my ear. i bring it over to your almost naked body. the blade gently caresses you. …

I can't turn away
what to do
what to do
the anger
frustration
swells up into clouds that gently fall and melt on my tongue
strong
i would love to be
wrong
what i feel to be
hacking away at a long lost heart
they lie
all of them
their mouths are empty
their promises and words of miss you love you are many
looking at pictures obsess obsess....regress
a soul sucking popularity pumping......
fuck it
i quit....

It is good to want things. when anyone gets a taste of something they like, wouldn't they want more? it seems only natural. but when does it become a problem? i'll tell you when. when you can't stop thinking about it, and not in a nice way....like a hammer banging on your skull until it busts open and blood spills all over the floor and you would think that it would stop banging on your skull at that point, but it doesn't. this is definitely an addictive mind. if you don't understand, you don't have one. this addiction of more can pertain to anything. drugs, alcohol, shopping, food, sex. a person, place, or thing. anything, …

I felt that my whole life before that point was pain and hopelessness. I would try anything. In the movies it looked liberating. The characters were always in pain, so they did the drugs or drank that drink to feel better. To just feel a little relief.

I could identify.

Over the next thirteen years I did anything that came my way. If I ended up in more pain with a particular substance than without it, I would switch to something else. People say, "what was your drug of choice?". I say, "which year?". I became ruled by these substances and my own twisted mind and tormented emotions.

Now I …

I have never realised the effect coffee has on me, until today, when it has finally hit me: “I am my mother’s daughter!” Now, this requires some explanation. “Have you been drinking?”, - my grandmother used to ask seeing my mum’s eyes sparkle mischievously as if her day to day world has suddenly acquired a different meaning and she was the only bearer of a wonderful secret. The answer has always been much less exciting “Coffee mum, I have just had coffee!” Being an absolutely pure and righteous girl all her life, this is the only addiction my mum has ever had apart from ironing, of course, which I suppose was more of a habit. Even her high blood pressure could not keep her …

I
-Officer (O): Ma’am, I have to ask you some security questions. OK?

- Me (A) (tired, sleepy, paused): OK

-O: Whose luggage is this?

-A: Mine

-O: How many suitcases did you check?

-A: One

-O: Just one?

-A: Just One

-O: Where did you pack them?

-A: At home

-O: Which is, where?

-A: Haarlem

-O: Haaaaaaalem, mmm. Who packed for you?

-A: I did.

-O: Did someone help you?

-A: Unfortunately not. (Giggles)

II

-O: Where do you work?

-A: Hoofddorp

-O: Where in Hoofddorp?

-A: Centrum (smile)

-O: Seriously. Which company?

-A: BES

-O: What do you do …

Four years ago I flew my Arkansas grandkids Matt and Ally and my daughter Heather from my first marraige to Cape Coral, Florida where we lived at the time. This was the first time they have flown and I was naturally concerned for them. After all, flapping your arms for 1200 miles can be fairly challenging not to mention the bugs you have to dig out of your teeth afterwards. The flight went well and they all enjoyed it and were beaming like headlights on brights as they disembarked.
They have never been to Disney World so we decided to make the three hour trek to Orlando for some magical kingdom fun. The grandkids were so excited and could hardly …

It Happened in a Cloister (by Roman Druker/98-729 Moanalua Loop 202, Aiea, HI 96701;romandruker@clearwire.net)
When the two who pretended to be nuns walked by, I knew that they were not nuns.
They were in their forties, corpulent, with ruddy cheeks, and uninspired eyes. They asked me where the bishop’s room was, and I told them.
They went there without minding my tagging along and seemed almost oblivious to my presence.
In the room, they immediately approached a wicker-traveling chest that stood at the foot of the bed; bishop had a crystal candy-holder on top of it. The women almost danced with excitement—“that’s it,” one of them said; she produced a koa box from within her bosom, emptied the bishop’s candy-holder, and placed her delivery there—these …

I wanted those jeans so bad. The Jordache ones - with the horse on the back pocket and the silver tab. They were expensive, and we didn't have that kind of money. I made a deal with my mother - I put up half with my babysitting money and she put up the other half. I finally got them.

"Lard ass," Sherry's sister said. Although, in a Massachusetts accent, it sounded like "Lahd ahse."

"What?"

"Just kiddin.' I like them jeans."

I babysat for Sherry's sister most weekends. She was 28 and had three kids: Colleen, Heather, and Bopper. Heather was named after a character on "General Hospital." Donna had a big apartment and paid us good and …

MILK RUN
Back at home a young wife waits.
Her Green Beret has met his fate.
He has died for those oppressed . . .
—Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler (1966)

Captain Bracey, Mr. Stephens and I were headed home to Vung Tau after a day-long parts route or “milk run.” I had finished putting the emptied cargo compartment of the Caribou in order, stowed my cleaning supplies, and laid back to relax. As I reread my latest letter from Myra Faye, I hummed words from a recent Righteous Brothers song, You’ve lost that lovin’ feelin’, oh-oh that lovin’ fe-e-elin’ . . .
Myra Faye and my relationship had been like an overworked Army airplane, in the sky sometimes, on the ground lots. …

"Laurel is on the pages of Life magazine!” Roger shouted. It was days after Woodstock and celebrity was in the neighborhood.

Laurel was our celebrity. She didn't just GO to Woodstock - she was memorialized in the pages of Life. No one was surprised. Like a celebrity, Laurel was also a stranger.

Whenever and wherever she appeared, Laurel smelled like fresh sex in broad daylight. Laurel was gloriously wanton, whorishly flush when she'd smile at a new man. Meeting up with Laurel was like walking into someone's bedroom unannounced.

Laurel was at least 25 years old, the first old hippie I met in 1969. Blue-eyed and beautiful, her dark roots peeking through short blonde curls, Laurel could run her …

In 2002, Mother died. I used to drive my Dad over to the cemetary to visit the graves, change the flowers.

One day, Dad decides it's time for him to tell me his wishes. He starts:

D; 'Son, I want you to have a tombstone right here 'twixt me and Mother.'

S; 'Pop, if there's gonna be a rock bought, then yer gonna buy it.' (understand, please, Pop was so tight, you couldn't drive a 16 penny nail up his ass with an 8 pound sledgehammer)

D; (screeching...he could do a pretty good screech owl imitation) Goddamit, you cannot be my son! How in hell Mother and I ever raised such an ornery brat, I'll never know!Read more »

When I was six months pregnant with my son, I broke up with my mother. We were standing in her kitchen on Thanksgiving Day. It was almost nine o’clock in the morning. It was almost my third trimester.
Up until two days earlier when Michael, the father-to-be, and I left our home in Brooklyn for my hometown in Louisiana, I’d been in a state of bliss. I never left home without my ultrasound pictures, like a Jehovah’s Witness wielding Bible scripture, proclaiming proof of God in our midst. No one was exempt from blow-by-blow reports on the baby’s every move, my every craving, graphic details of my birth plan. My elation was incorrigible, invincible, I thought. But I hadn’t yet seen my mother, and …

But no one seemed to notice my heroic effort. Fabrice marched inexorably off the front, and Terri, Louise, Nancy and Frank passed me one by one. We breasted a ridge and Camp 2 came into sight across a basin of deep snow. I glanced behind me, gulping for breath, and realized with satisfaction that I still led three people: Marshall, Dmitri and a new, enthusiastic guide we’d acquired named Pinky. On this section the strangest thing happened.

My one-step-one-breath rhythm, a pace that had served me well on every mountain I’d ever climbed, was suddenly no longer adequate. As the lead climbers shrunk in the distance, my one-step-one-breath became one-step-two-breaths, and then one-step-three-breaths, but the additional air didn’t propel me any faster. If …
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