Author Archives: ramblingsfromtheleft

About ramblingsfromtheleft

I am unpublished and optimistically waiting for that one magic moment.

I want to fly …

falcon.02

 

Falcon Photograph Credit

Fly through the air like a hawk, like the peregrine falcons who fly over the bridges and glide along the Hudson and East Rivers. I want to feel the wind under my wings and soar into the air and look down on us or swoop into the waters and fish.

Among the ten thousand workshops, seminars and meetings I have attended during my life was one session where I was to learn transcendental meditation. The man who ran this group of wanna-be hippies from the Upper West Side spoke with a base so low it resonated in your mid-section, instructed, “Imagine you are an animate or an inanimate object, another person or being, and become that.”

Deep into my meditation, I became an eagle and took off, riding on the currents above the ocean, gliding along the shore, dipping into the water and coming up victorious, I was the falcon perched on the tallest steeple of Riverside Church, the river currents teasing me; I became free.

When I came back to my sedentary self, I felt sad. I truly wished I could do that.

And we are the rarefied few who can.

That is what we do when we write.

We fly … and find the kind of freedom we can never find anywhere else. We are the master of all we survey … that world is our private kingdom … and within its boundaries is everything we have ever dreamed of or hoped to be.

falcons.01

 Feeding her young

I want to send my two geezers flying through the internet and used my blog as a testing ground. Needless to say, I have changed several things in the first two sections … but much less than I did at the end.

No matter that I have practiced with flash fiction, I found it difficult to hold it to 5,000 words, so the ending was hard to fashion. It had to tell you the true purpose of the story, to wrap up the plot, give you the moral angst and provide a satisfactory conclusion.

And so it will, so it will.

But you will never read it here.

However, in the spirit of fairness, I will give you a little bit more. You can draw your own conclusions from that or protest that I did not say enough.

Whatever your reaction, I do hope you have enjoyed my little experiment. And the next time you get the chance, close your eyes and let her rip …

Life in Reverse …

One week later, Aggie came through my front door juggling several folders, a loose-leaf binder, a Dunkin Donut box and two containers of coffee. “Now we can get down to business.”

“More business?

“I have made a comprehensive list of the most popular small businesses, including an on-line shop for our crafts.”

“What’s with the plural pronoun? I hate crafts.”

“How can anyone hate crafts?”

“Okay, I’ll amend my comment.” I gave her a toothy grin. “I don’t like crafts.”

Ignoring me, Aggie went through each idea, about the wonders of scrapbooking and the thousands of nifty embellishments for each style. She bubbled over the joys of selling Mary Kay cosmetics, and revisited for the third time the old standby of Tupperware.

“Young women today don’t get into Tupperware when they can get disposable plastic containers for a couple of bucks.”

She threw that folder aside. “Okay, no Tupperware. How about Mary Kay?”

“I don’t like Mary Kay cosmetics. They smell funny.”

Undaunted, Aggie continued. “I always loved Avon.”

“We’re going backwards again, Aggie. We both tried Avon in the burbs and flopped. I had more Avon product displays in my garage than our district manager.”

“Then we could try the personalized coffee mugs and plates or ceramics and use your back porch for a kiln.”

There was no way around this. Aggie was gunning the engine and I was standing at the garage door. The best I could do was plaster a smile on my face and wait to get flattened.

I felt a sharp pain. Aggie had wacked me in the head with one of her empty photo albums. “You haven’t heard a single word.”

“I was listening.” I rubbed my head. “That hurt you know.”

She fingered a single butterfly embellishment on the table. “Don’t you think these are cute?”

“No, I don’t.” I pushed it away. “I have a linear mind. I think in columns of numbers like my dad. Concrete and practical is what I am and this is …”

“The only thing you want us to do together is go to silly book clubs with your new snooty friends.” She folded her arms over her chest, closed and unresponsive.

“They are a nice group of women.”

Since the second grade we have had tons of arguments, spats and parting of the ways. But only twice before had we ever had such a heated confrontation that we actually got angry. I saw it in her eyes, plastered on her perfect, pink cheeks and embedded in her fat frown.

And like both times before this one, Aggie cut me off at the knees.

“It won’t last. You’ll find something about them you don’t like. You don’t like cats or dogs. You don’t like selling Avon or Tupperware and now you don’t like crafts.” She returned the blue and pink butterflies to a baggie. “Money is what you like. Lots and lots of money like the fortune you’ll make after you sell the house.”

Before I could react, the space where she had been was vacant. Like a vacant lot before developers fill in the dirt with bricks and mortar, before the framing, or lines and pipes are laid to bring in water and energy.

I was left in an empty space with only the echo of my door slamming shut.

 ##########

There you have it. Three parts of a whole with the last part left undone. Or rather it is done, but un-posted.

Next week I’ll have to come up with something else to do. I think I’ll hold off on my characters, old and new, and concentrate on one subject or another that is near and dear to our hearts.

How about you folks?

Do you get a tickle when you leave something undone?

fOIS In The City

Geezer humor

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What makes funny?

maxine3

Graphic Credit

Funny at my age can become ironic. And if there is anything a woman over fifty hates it’s irony.

However, let’s say for the sake of this blog that I am doing a twist on chick-lit … otherwise known as geezer-lit.

This is the type of demented behavior that happens when boomers become eligible for social security and refuse to go gently into that night.

Before I create ways to torture a couple more of my new characters and move on to another snappy opening, I will tease you with another installment of Aggie and Eva and Life in Reverse.

Second installment …

Within six months of each other, Aggie and I became widows. We had both done the suburban thing, bought split levels and filled them with kids and stuff, had attached garages and filled them with junk, parked various moving vehicles from the front lawn to the back yard, including the rusted chassis of a Chevy Impala Aggie’s husband swore he would rebuild one day.

Aggie sat across from me at a local diner. “All I’m saying is that it’s creepy the way stuff happens to us.”

I shrugged, not at all empathetic to her analogy. “So, we got married the same year.”

“We had our first kids the same year.” She held up one finger. “We had our second kids the same year.” She held up another finger.

“And we became widows the same year.” I held up the last finger. “Does that mean the cosmos are tilted in our favor or that we’re cursed?”

“I don’t know. I just think it’s creepy.”

If I were inclined to believe in such things, I might have thought it was creepier that we had both decided to move back to our parents’ homes. My parents died eleven months apart and left the house to me and my brother. We used it as income and rented it until he decided to relocate to the west coast and signed over his share. I decided to move back in after the last tenant destroyed the kitchen in an oil fire.

Aggie’s father, exhausted after years of supporting dozens of his relatives, died from a massive heart attack at forty-five. My father concluded he was snuffed out. “Dad, there is no Irish mafia. There is no any kind of mafia.”

“Yeah?” He pushed his glasses up his nose. “Go tell that to J. Edgar and the Feds. They got the real dope on the cosa nostra and those sons of bitches that smear all Italians.”

The extensive network of Aggie’s siblings, nieces and nephews, in-and-out-laws, and cousins climbed to the double digits and not a one came to Mrs. Boyle’s rescue. Two of Aggie’s brothers were doing time in Sing Sing, two more of them had become hippies during the sixties and the last she knew they were living in Canada. Her three sisters married and divorced and dropped a half dozen no-neck monsters onto the planet and left them with Mrs. Boyle while they trolled bars for new husbands.

All of this came to me in comic rewind. “I’ll tell you what’s creepy. Your damn brothers and sisters are creepy.”

“Well at least, Linda got married and left again.”

“What about Terry?”

“Terry and her four kids will live with my mother forever. Or at least until she drops dead.”

Mrs. Boyle was in her eighties and still cooked and cleaned and ran after unruly children. “Your mother deserves a break.”

“Like I said.” Aggie dipped a French fry in ketchup. “Until she drops dead.”

“We didn’t move back to Brooklyn to babysit.”

“You moved back to restore, redecorate, renovate and accumulate equity so you can sell out to some ass-hole yuppie and move to Florida”

“I don’t want to move to Florida.”

She slammed her fist on the table and rattled the cups and saucers. “Yeah, but you want to sell out.”

“I never said I wanted to sell.”

“Why do you live in that big house all alone?” She took a big bite from her burger. Saliva welled up in my mouth. I wanted a juicy burger and French fries. Not a sensible salad with no dressing. “Stop looking at me like that and order your own damn burger.”

“I enjoy living alone.” I took one fry lifting it to my mouth, feeling my nostrils flare from the wonderful scent of grease. “This is my green day.”

“Green day, orange day. Why the hell don’t you have a brown day and enjoy eating for a change?” She pushed the plate of fries to my side. “You won’t even get a cat.”

“I don’t like cats.” I dove into the fries and suddenly green was no longer my color. “I don’t like dogs either.” I waved for the waitress. I needed carbs. I needed grease and sugar and cream. “Unlike some of us, I don’t have the desire to live with a menagerie of animals and humans of varying sizes.”

And like her mother before her, Aggie had taken in her four grandchildren while her daughter went out into the world to find herself. “And if Senade needs to find herself, get her a full length mirror.”

She sat back, a contented cat after a fancy feast, dabbed her lips with a napkin and reached for her iced-tea. “You want to sell out to make a bundle.”

“We could both make a bundle and leave all this shit behind us. Take the money and run. Travel and have fun.”

“I have responsibilities and I want a business of my own.”

“Well get over it. You don’t have a business kind of mind.”

Her lips poked at me into a major pout. “I could if we had the right kind of business.”

We left the diner and walked along the avenue. Our houses were in neighborhood of Bay Ridge and within walking distance of Owl’s Head Park, where there were the best views of the Brooklyn Narrows, the bridge and the ocean beyond. We found a bench and sat and watched the clouds dancing in the sun above the water, heard the twitter of birds and smiled at other people’s kids.

I thought it was a good time to approach her again. “Aggie, it’s not that I don’t want to be in business with you.”

“It is so. Every idea I’ve had you poo-hooed. You make believe you’re supportive, but underneath it’s like school.”

“For the love of heaven. We’re almost old enough to collect social security and you’re talking about school.”

“Because you were always tracked in the number one classes and I was in the idiot classes. Because you were going somewhere and I was going nowhere.”

“We both had good husbands and good marriages and lived in identical houses, just like when we were kids. Where is this somewhere I was going that excluded you?”

“It was the principal of the thing. You’ve always been the smart one.”

“So I suppose that means you were always the stupid one?”

“Exactly.” Her head bobbled. “That is exactly what I mean.”

I stood and looked at her, this tiny bit of a thing with the heart of a lion and the strength of an ox and was baffled. No, I was annoyed. “No, I’m angry. I’m angry that you think so little of me.”

I walked down the path towards the entrance of the park. “Go home to your menagerie.”

She caught up with me and pulled on my arm. “Oh, stop it. You aren’t angry at me. You can never be angry at me.”

I swung around. “Why do you say things like that?”

“I don’t want you to sell out and leave me all alone. That menagerie is barely tolerable and that’s because I can always cross over from my front to yours.”

“Like when we were kids?”

“It’s the same again. Only this time I don’t have your mom to bake me cookies and fix my hair. I don’t have your dad helping me with algebra. And if you sell out, I won’t have you anymore either. Then I’ll have to stay put in my own house and live with those morons.”

When we turned the corner of our block we saw two of Aggie’s grandchildren chasing each other with water pistols. She shook her head. “Look at that. Not a brain between them.”

The noise level coming through the front door was enough to frighten off the devil himself and following it, Mrs. Boyle. She stood on the landing with a broom and batted each of them squarely on the head. “Get in here this minute or today I’ll be rolling heads.”

She spotted us and waived. “Top of the afternoon girls.”

I laughed. “Top of the afternoon to you, Mrs. Boyle.”

Aggie giggled. “You go get’em ma.”

“Sure that I will, darlin’”

Mrs. Boyle herded them into the house. I looked down the alley. The same alley that had made me the most popular kid on the block, the very same alley that was once again strewed with bikes, toys, balls, bats, baby carriages, and one bent plastic baby pool.

Aggie patted me on the back. “If you move, where the hell will we park our baby carriages and bikes?”

We sat on my front steps. “Yeah, yuppies aren’t into clutter.”

“I can’t do that to her. Act like a wild horse that shits and runs. Leave her with that mess like the rest of them.”

“Fine,” I grinned. “But I refuse to spray paint Mason jars.”

Maxine.4
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What does funny mean to you?

fOIS In The City

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Where it all begins …

start-here

Graphic

For me every story begins with one sentence. No matter what happens to that sentence later, I never write anything without that one sentence. In the blog a portion of that sentence might become the header. In a novel it might one day become the tag line.

For inspiration, I began to write a list of sentences that would  capture the essence, the soul of the story.

I did this because I intend to keep my promise to wax comic with new characters. However, I cannot promise you will ever know what happens to any of them.

I never did tell you what happens to the rebellious Viola or her discontented mother, Lucille. Was there a future for Viola beyond South Bradley Street, or would she be trapped like her parents on the wrong side of the tracks?

And in the four years I have done the blog I never told Antoinette’s entire story. I might have tortured my poor hapless Gail with fumbling blind dates, but I never told you about the one … that one and only one she finally met.

Do you know if any or all of them had a happy ending?

Alas, they are what they are … a snippet … a tease … a temptation … and another beginning with no end.

starts here

Life in Reverse …

Whoever designed the automobile to go faster when it shifts into reverse must have known Aggie.

She stretched out her short legs trying to make the bridge between the chair and the ottoman and like each time, her heels slipped, her body lurched and she spilled coffee in her lap.

“Maybe you should keep a change of clothes with you, the way we did when the kids were babies.” I handed her a paper towel. “And if you put the damn ottoman closer to you before you plop on the chair, your heels wouldn’t slip off.”

“Yeah, yeah.” She handed me a folder. “Here, look at my new business plan.”

“What is it this time?”

“Mason jars.”

“You wrote a business plan to sell Mason jars?” The folder contained dozens of pictures of Mason jars in dozens of colors.

“It’s the latest craze. Girls call it shabby chic. You buy cheap ass jars, spray paint them and then you sand them, put a bit of raffia around the rim and sell them for ten bucks a pop.”

“I don’t want to spray paint anything.”

“Ah common, Eva, it’ll be fun.”

“No it won’t be fun. No more than a basement crammed with Amway products it took us two years to unload was fun.”

She huffed. “You still upset over that?”

“Yes. And the damn stuff made me itch.”

She gathered up the papers and stuffed them back into her folder. “Okay, then why don’t you come up with something for a change?”

Living with Aggie was like hitting the pedal too hard backing out of the garage; terrible things can happen.

Agatha “Aggie” Boyle was my best friend since second grade. In second grade she had flaming red braids and resembled the fictional character of Pippi Longstocking. Long, light lashes feathered over her translucent blue eyes.

Looking at her today, I saw a woman who aged well, her flaming red braids replaced by short wisps of white and silver, her eyes, a deeper blue.

“My idea is that we don’t do anything for a while.”

She waved her hand in dismissal. “That was your idea the last time.”

“Oh, the last time … like right before you thought we should do parties and sell sex paraphernalia?”

I was Eva Marie Franco, named for a famous actress no one remembered. I was a-typical of my heritage, dark hair and eyes, tawny skin, shapely rounds strategically placed to drive men wild.

I pushed gray waves off my face and looked south. South where all my rounds settled around my knees. The real tragedy for us was simple. we were invisible to the opposite sex.

“How about we reopen the travel agency,” she asked. “People are flying again.”

In the ten years since we became widows, we had gone through a dozen small business ideas that mostly flopped and lost money. The one time we did make money, Aggie, who was keeping the books, forgot to pay the taxes and we went belly-up with fines and late fees.

My scalp rippled remembering the defunct travel agency we opened two months before 9-11.

“Why can’t we be two old geezers and do lunch, join book clubs and attend card parties like all the other old geezers our age?”

“We’ve never been like other girls our age, why start now?

Her parents moved into the house next to ours one week before school started.

We grew up on the same block in Brooklyn in connected row houses located half-way up a hill on the edge of a blue collar world. Our living room was connected to their downstairs hall. Our upstairs bath, connected to their second bedroom.

Our house was one of two houses on the block that was semi-detached which gave me enormous status with all the neighborhood kids. My dad was a professional man, a CPA, a man with narrow glasses that remained fixed to the tip of his nose from the moment he woke until he went to bed.

My mom was a stay at home, bake cookies and clean all three floors until they shined kind of woman. We were the national average. I was an only child for five years until my brother, James Anthony Franco showed up.

Both of our houses had the same square feet of space. However, while everyone in my family had separate domains, and for several years a third floor tenant to pay our mortgage, the Boyle’s filled every single space with people and stuff. Aggie lived with her parents, five siblings, both her paternal and maternal grandparents, her crazy Aunt Cloe, her old maid cousin Bitsy, and her perpetually unemployed Uncle Pat.

To make life more interesting for Mrs. Boyle, her husband’s sister-in-law ran off with a plumber and his brother, unable to cope, dropped his four kids off for the weekend and didn’t come back for ten years.

Nobody paid them rent. Few if any of them worked. My conservative dad with his navy blue suspenders concluded that Mr. Boyle was in the Irish mafia. “How else can he afford to feed them all?”

Aggie became a fixture in our house and like one of my mom’s favorite stained glass lamps she was cherished by all of us.

It doesn’t matter how we went from there to here. All the stops and starts between second grade and hanging on the brink of destruction at fifty-nine, brought us full circle back to our connected row houses.

We remain one of their strangest of strange soul mates.

Where to go from here …

Ideas are all around us. They are the stolen moments, the unguarded smile, the silent disapproval. How could you know what someone like me might do to these ladies next … or if I’ll be taken in by another strange idea. I haven’t a clue.

I might give you another wanna-be funny opening.

 Tell me how you begin?
And what do you do when you get there?

fOIS In The City

backwards

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