Loving Men-Curiosity (Pup Stories)

Curiosity is the child in us.

I entertain my curiosities daily. When I think of myself living my life, I picture myself sandboxsitting in a large sandbox with my lovers pretending we’re sailors or bulldozers or explorers. While we’re undressing, I imagine we’re adventurers, and the unclothing of our bodies is akin to typography, scanning the mountainous terrain of shoulders and abdomens and hips and buttocks.

And each time I’m with my lovers, whether we’re in Paris or Charlotte or Palm Springs or Buenos Aires, I’m wholly entertained by them.

As lovers love, we’re also very curious about life.

I love my life. I really do. I’m blessed to be in the company of my lovers: Jean-Baptiste, Marc, Pup, and Luciano. They’re my seasonings, my pepper, my flavor.

Last night Pup and I were dining al dente. When we sat down I immediately took my napkin from the place setting and placed it in my lap. But Pup didn’t.

“Don’t expect me to put the napkin in my lap,” Pup chortled, “the napkin goes on your lap when your first course is served.”

“Oh, really,” I responded.

“Listen, Harlan,” Pup added, “I have excellent table manners.”

And then out came our iPhones and off we went to the races. We were foolishly scouring the internet for proper table manners, followed by belly laughs and smiles.

Curiosity is fueled by a distinctive degree of humility.

A Child’s Meditation

Hello, everyone. My name is Harlan and I’m going to lead you in a meditation.

Meditation is simply a way to relax your mind. Your mind is always thinking, even if you’re not thinking of thinking. Your mind is never really at rest unless it is told to be at rest. So, what I’d like you to do is to follow me, because I want to put your mind at rest.

But don’t worry, just because your mind might not be thinking, there are things we cannot silence. We cannot silence our mind to stop telling our lungs to breathe or our heart to pound. But through meditation, we can ask our lungs and heart to slow, which provides us relaxation. Relaxation is something that benefits our bodies and our minds.

There’s nothing to fear in meditation. Meditation is like prayer. There’s nothing to see; nothing to hear; there’s no success; and, there’s no failure. Nothing will happen to you. I promise, nothing. The only thing that may happen is that you may feel calm. Calm like a pond; calm like sleep; calm like a windless wind.

If there are no questions, let’s begin.

I’d like you to close your eyes. If you’re frightened, then keep your eyes open, but bow your head to your lap. I want you to listen to my voice. Try your best to listen to my voice and my voice only. Try to let go of your own voice; that voice you hear all day long; that voice that tries to tell you what to do. Say to that voice: “Goodnight voice, I don’t need you now.” Try repeating it to yourself; it’s okay to say it aloud because sometimes that little voice doesn’t listen very well. Just repeat it to yourself or aloud quietly. Simply say, “Goodnight voice, I don’t need you now. Goodnight voice, I don’t need you now. Goodnight voice, I don’t need you now.”

Soon all you’ll hear are your own words, “Goodnight voice, I don’t need you now. Goodnight voice, I don’t need you now.”

I’ll give you a few more seconds to finish your conversation with your voice. Remember, there’s nothing to fear; there’s no right way or wrong way; no one’s looking at you; no one’s doing anything wrong. Whatever you’re thinking or hearing or feeling is the perfect place for you to be. Simply listen to my voice and say goodnight to your own voice. Simply listen to my voice. My voice. Listen to my voice.

If you feel sleepy, just listen to my voice. Sleepy is okay. But I’m not asking for sleep. Your voice is asking you to be sleepy. If you’re sleepy, simply say, “Goodnight voice, I don’t need you now.”

I want you to think of a place. It could be any place. But I’m thinking of a particular place. I’m thinking of a place that’s warm and sunny and quiet. Any place is okay to think about, but maybe when you tire of anyplace you can think of some place. I’d like you to think of some place. This place is warm and sunny and quiet. Maybe it’s filled with sand or water or mountains. Whichever place you see is exactly the place I want you to be. See that place. Feel that place. Smell that place. Do you see the water or the sand or the mountains? Just see some place, a place that you see is what’s important. It doesn’t have to be a place you’ve been. Just a place. Some place. Some place you can see. It’s a pretty place, a peaceful place, a place that you like.

Now that you see this place I want you to take a deep breath in and blow it out. Breathe in and blow out. Perfect. Now, while looking at your place, I want you to breathe in slowly through your nose and breathe out through your open mouth. Don’t worry, you won’t snore. Breathe in through your nose and breathe out through your mouth. Breathe in and breathe out. Breathe in and breathe out. Breathing this way helps us to bathe our lungs in oxygen. Oxygen helps our whole body. Breathing like this brings lots of air into our lungs and keeps it there which helps us to relax. Oxygen is food for your body.

Breathe in and breathe out. Breathe in and breathe out. In and out. In and out.

Now go back to your place. That’s right, the place that you saw before. Do you see that place? If not, simply see another place. It’s the place that’s important, it’s that you see it. Don’t try, just see. Do the same as you do when swimming: Open your imagination’s eyes and see beyond your eyes. Your imagination doesn’t wear glasses. Does it? That’s a little silly, isn’t? It’s okay to laugh. Your imagination loves to laugh. An imagination wearing glasses! That is funny, isn’t it?

Let’s stay in this place for awhile. I simply want you to see this place, its beauty, its peace. I want you to spend time there. This isn’t any place or even some place. This is your place. Any place you choose is your place. See it, feel it; breathe in and out; breathe in and out; slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth; in through your nose and out through your mouth.

Let’s stay here for a little while.

Now it’s time to go back. I want you to say goodbye to your place. Don’t be sad because your place is your place. It’s in your heart and in your imagination. No one else can see it, only you can see it. It’s your secret place. It’s a place you can go whenever you like. You can return every day and every night. I go to my place many times a day. My place is a place I honor. I go to my place whenever every other place upsets me. My place, like your place, is a place of calm. I sometimes think of it as a hiding place.

But it’s time to go back now. I want you to say goodbye to your place and slowly come back to this place. Just follow my voice as I lead you back. Please come back now. Once you’re back, you can open your eyes or lift your head.

Welcome back . . .

Creativity & The Running Back

“A true genius admits that he or she knows nothing.”
Albert Einstein

“It isn’t enough to think outside of the box. Thinking is passive. Get used to acting outside the box.”
— Tim Ferris

runningbackRecently I’ve been intrigued with the ideas of creativity and greatness. What most of us think of as creativity is limited to the arts like writing, painting, dancing, acting, and sculpting. What people don’t consider is athletics. But think of the greats like Michael Jordan, Johnny Orr, Alex Rodriguez, Mario Andretti, Richard Petty, Joe Montana, Brett Favre, Jean-Claude Killy, Apollo Ono, Evgeni Plushenko, and Michelle Kwan.

How did Jordan always make that last shot? Because he practiced? Maybe. Because he was the best in the game? Probably. But I think Jordan had the creative genius to calculate the correct degree of height, of the arch, and of power, all while being double-teamed by defenders to make that last game winning shot. But the calculation was a subconscious thought, similar to ballet dancers and actors.

Let me give you another example, the professional running back. For example: All at once the RB (running back) sees the offensive play unfolding; he sees the hole, the hole insidezonetriplehe’d practised hundreds of times before; creating the hole requires a pulling guard to double team the defensive tackle and the center to move the nose guard to the right causing a gap in the defensive line and subsequent hole; theoretically, in the gap normally covered by the middle linebacker reading a run, but who now reads a pass from the secondary, yelling “pass pass!” The safety bumps and runs with the wide receivers as the tight end drops back to move the defensive right tackle to protect the quarterbacks blind side, while the fullback picks up a nimble cornerback blitzing wide, but the fullback buries him in the backfield; the the handoff finally happens just as the hole appears like an apparition in a dense fog; a hole, first imagined by a coach on a sheet of paper, placed in a playbook as “off-tackle left on two”; practised hundreds of times butpackerback never recognized by the RB; but now, the hole has opened and he’s about to step through the paradigm and into a new future; what’s on the other side of the hole, what does the future hold; this is creativity at its rawest form; this is the result of imagination and practice; it’s a coach’s hypotheses, an offensive lines determination, and an RB’s commitment to his future; yet, he hesitates until he hears his conscience telling to run through the hole; then he runs headlong through the gap while realizing that the runningbackstraightarmhole isn’t the future, it’s simply a doorway, his future lies on the other side of the threshold.

You see, creativity happens throughout all walks of life. From the sciences to the arts to medicine and law and athletics. It happens to most of us even if we never realize it.

But if you’re lucky enough to have children, then I recommend you look them in the eyes because in them you will always find your greatest example of your own creativity.

 

 

Has Been’s, Could’ve Been’s, Once Was’s, and Children

Note: Like a sliver that’s penetrated the thick skin, it needs to be removed by a sterilized needle and constant squeezing. It will continue to ache until its presence causes you far more anguish than it’s extraction. The parallels are one reason why this post means so much to me.
Me (right) and my brother (left)

My brother got my dad’s physique; I got his mental illness.

Once I assumed the role of cook a couple of years ago, I planned my menu so that every other day I’d prepare a new meal.  The only cookbook I owned was a 1960’s copy of Betty Crocker’s Cookbook.  This cookbook was my mother’s, and if you saw it, you’d think Betty Crocker herself passed it along to my mother.  It was a solid first-step for me, my hesitation quieted by my mother’s obvious use of the cookbook, evidenced by the incredible number of batter-splattered pages; missing pages; half-pages; and an index at the rear which resembled the color palette of Crayola’s 64-Color box of crayons.  There were highlighted recipes; notations at the margins; and just a few, but oddly significant in an extreme way, an ad infinitum decree by way of thick, heavy lines, one or two eliminated altogether by a formidable, dense marker, applied as determined and repeated coats, forbidding any chance that these recipes might appear on our kitchen table.

My father was already a train wreck when my brain began recording his presence.  Failing at life (mainly due to his undiagnosed mental illness, bipolar), his appearance was infrequent: his social mask was one of humor: albeit acidic sarcasm and shearing, pointed wit composed in the key of tease and enacted before an unending column of untried yet promising second-shift ladies.  His role as a bullying, boorish big shot, whose sole domestic purpose was to reprise the 1963 verbal variety of water boarding. His peacocking drove us  closer and closer to suffocation, as though with each matinée he pressed another thick pillow of despair onto our faces and then, just when our desperation went quiet and we felt that first, foamy wave of disappearance, back we’d go into his second act and the shrill, ingenuous cackle of his subordinate’s callow laughter warned us that he was gaining adoration.  And the louder the laughter, the more lewd, raunchy, and viscous his anecdotes became, and our mention increased proportionally until, by the end, the three of us, his family, descended well past indecency, a good way beyond degenerate, and somewhere between contemptible and worthless.

And as the ladies stood and he, broadcasting his manners, helped them with their coats, those ladies whose saturating attention fueled my father’s mania sending him further and further afield, looked at the three of us, fodder of my father’s insanity, and delicately lifted the corners of their mouths in an effort to produce a symbol of empathy that my father couldn’t decode.

But what those lips produced was that sneer tossed at has been’s, could’ve beens, once was’s, and children who repeatedly witness their father falling apart.

That One Mid-Morning in November, 1963

“I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”   Matthew 5:28

0-vineyards2

I’d admittedly forgotten some vague dots over the years until a tiny ember (resembling my aging mother’s voice) leaped through my firewall. She read to me an obituary of one Ms.
Daisy Polé the sole daughter and heiress of the late Mr. Raleigh (Buck) Polé. Ms. Polé, an unmarried woman and Mr. Polé, a widower since 1941 moved to Gilroy in the Santa Clara Valley in 1964 and accepted administration of the family’s lucrative portfolio of land ownerships including the keystone of Santa Clara, the Sebastiani Vineyard among others. a-1sebastianiIn 1916 his parents, M. Benoît-Pierre Polé of La Rogue Gageac, France, and his fiancé Miss Caroline Agnew of Tippah County, Missouri, entered into a 99-year periodic tenancy of the 4,467 acre vineyard of Mr. Samuele Sebastiani. This agreement allowed Mr. Sebastiani and his heirs to farm the land autonomously for a share of each yield. In a statement issued by family attorneys: “In the margin of the original will Ms. Pole noted in her own handwriting which was witnessed that “Upon my death and by freea-1daisy4 choice, it is my wish that all landownership be dissolved immediately and set free; all the land returned to heirs of Samuele Sebastiani (as well as Banshee, R. Strong, Paradise, and Truett-Hurst).” According to the Santa Clara County Recorder of Deeds Office, Ms. Polé’s gesture is the largest periodic tenant return in Santa Clara County, and is reportedly valued at $110 million.

It was back in 1963, one of a dozen sunny and bitterly cold Mid-November mornings. It was that particular mid-November day in 1963 that Mr. R. Polé and Miss D. Polé, and Mr. B. Bleddstone were exiled from my memory. That was the day my Mother (then a deeply discounted, cash only housekeeper) exploded. Her honesty while certainly noxious was also injurious and fatal to the futures of three adults and one child.

When I was five my single-parent Mother whose career as a deeply discounted, cash only personal 0-momnmewinter.jpgHousekeeper was forced to dress me, pack her lunch, pack my lunch, check our bus fare, and one last-minute cross-check of her self supplied and professionally preferred cleaning products deftly loaded into her briefcase (a doubled National Foods, brown paper shopping bag) and haul us to her four daily housekeeping a1-housekeeperandsonjobs. And though she never said it, my waving-hand-hello’s which greeted the Mrs. of the House always – except today elicited the friendliest responses in the form of an angelic smile, pat on the head, brief tickling episode, or my favorite, an invitation to (one of my Mother’s strictly forbidden breakfasts) sandwich cookies and milk!

We never suspected the degree of turmoil Mrs. Daisy Bleddstone had deflected on a weekly basis for my Mother’s tardiness. On this intense and nippy Mid-November morning,  I stood shivering and whispered under my breath, “C’mon, it’s just a ring of keys in a car coat! Jeez!” I paced as I grew impatiently colder watching my Mother plunder her car coat like a determined cop ransacked a suspects coat for contraband. At wits end, she threw the coat to the ground, a-1momstimexchecked her Timex and proclaimed, “Holy Jesus, it’s a quarter past!” then dropped to her knees and began twisting and tearing and rifling through her proudly self-purchased woolen car coat which eventually puddled, ruined and lifeless, before her. Then my Mother in a strained, ironic voice peppered with diabolic laughter quietly confessed, “They’re on the kitchen counter!” (Again we were rushed, determined to avoid another condescending explanation of the value of her employer’s time, which is, by the way, priceless!)  “And fifteen lousy minutes to someone with all the time in the world cost me the only coat I’ve bought for myself in six years.” And as we knelt there staring at the woolen carcass, the immense front door (resembling the Wizard of Oz’s deterring, massive and inadmissible portico) opened and Mrs. Bleddstone stood there like an over starched shirt. She said in hushed tones,a-1thief her voice quivering unnaturally, as though a crook was poking her ribs with a cold snub-nosed .38 ordering, “Get rid of them or I will for permanent!”

Mrs. Bleddstone, in a breathy, desperate whisper said, “Buddy’s looking for his shirts!” “Oh Holy Jesus,” my Mother blurted flying past Mrs. Bleddstone and beelining it for the kitchen. saying over her shoulder to the Mrs.,, “They’re in the fridge staying cold and damp ready for me to iron them.” When my Mother finally emptied the Fridgedaire, the door slammed shut unexpectantly and barely missed my Mother. On the other side of the door stood Mr. Bleddstone, dressed for work except for a shirt. Mr. Bleddstone chortled, “Do you expect me to wear a wet shirt to work?” Then he buddys take-offbegan to mumble, inaudibly at first, then tightly restrained; a “can’t two damned women figure out how to iron . . . someone’s to blame and she’s going to pay, Christ! She’s going to  “Daisy,” Buddy asked casually (while he studied, carefully recalling this whole fucking debacle: ‘Which one’s really to blame? Which of the two bitches made a patsy of me? And in front of the god-damn kid!), “At what time do we begin paying our laundress and her little thimble?” “Eight o’clock Buddy, but . . . today’s an exception . . .” My Mother, hopeful that after watching eighteen months of Daisy’s acceptance of denigrating sexism and impolitic adultery, Daisy would finally go chin to chin with him.

Then Wham! Down came his fist like a butcher’s cleaver!

And again; Wham! But this time the noise and crushing impact caused Daisy to retreat to the nook next to the broom closet; as though she’d learned to protect some of her body. a1-buddy angryBuddy, without breaking his stare at Daisy, whipped his hand to within inches of my Mother’s face; yet she didn’t flinch (having been a “Daisy” years before). Buddy yelled at Daisy, “Those folk don’t get exceptions, they are exceptions! Damaged, cracked, and “hopeful’s” waiting on a dusty shelf, propped between bookends; on one side alimony and child support and on the other side a line of suitors waiting their turn . . . that is until they spot her little anchor. The kid is competition for privacy, intimacy, and affection. He’s a nuisance; one more rain-check, yet another rain-delay; stood-up because of a kid’s runny nose. Finally he gets it: Every suitor is enchanted by the promises of a lonesome blonde with ripe, plump strawberry lips. Eventually every suitor becomes disenchanted by ignored or forgotten promises of afa-1soldiersfection and boundless hours of sex. Every suitor was embarrassed that a few well-placed promises led to her mockery of the suitors understanding, forgiveness, and patience. Eventually it became clear that her primary attention and affection was toward the kid and every suitor had the leftovers. This was her way of giving the kid a daddy ’cause she knew nobody wanted to be daddy to some little bastard!”

I heard it but never saw it. The sound resembled a bat cracked during a ballgame on the a1-woman slapsmanradio. And Buddy stood there stupefied by the burning sting of a Housekeeper’s hand (a fucking Housekeeper’s hand) which hung, opening and closing quickly like the mouths of caught fish. Slowly Buddy shook off the shock, steadied himself off the ropes, his chest began to swell signaling an apoplectic eruption.

But before Buddy had the chance, my Mother, with years of staggering physical abuse; years of self-denial, of crushed hope, of denigration, of inhumanity, and the pestilence of rotting promises; finally, Catholicism’s orthodoxy of eternal damnation if she divorced a cruel and punishing bigot; and her character decaying as she endured (out of fear) the self-important icy hands (also fists) which stripped then roughly rummaged  beneath  her clothing. My Mother, her eyes locked on Buddy said, “Well, a damp shirt is more dignified than one streaked with cheap lipstick. It’s so cheap in fact, that one day one of us “Housekeepers,” will climb the basement stairs where we’ve been scrubbing lipstick longer and with more determination than I scrub the grass stains from my boy’s dungarees. All that effort so your wife (and all the other wives that I’ve worked for) won’t face the humiliation of infidelity and worse, your cruel and bemused recklessness knowing she’ll notice it, deny it, admit it just as the last drop of dignity rolls down her cheek. Daisy’s fear of life alone and the weight of the word divorcee keeps you here to be beaten like a farmyard dog; beaten when it’s convenient for him!

“Good luck, Daisy,” my mother said in whispered tones; “I hope that one day you’ll have the courage to stand-up to this cowardly bastard!”

a-1buddyyellingBuddy spun around as quickly as a toy top, his fists clenched tightly and stood inches from my Mother’s face. His fists shook and clenched tightly like a school boy’s first after school fight. Daisy reached out to Buddy’s shoulder hoping to detour his anger. Which it sure did! The interruption lit Buddy’s fuse and subsequent explosion! First was a painful back-handed slap which spun Daisy around; then bare-knuckled fists which accurately landed painfully and repeatedly at Daisy. It was then, right then as Buddy was preoccupied with torturing his wife that Buddy yelled, “you’re fired so get the fuck out of my house!

My Mother grabbed our coats and mittens and never looking back, led us quickly to the back door.  Upon opening the door my Mother and I ran smack-dab into Buck holding a plate of Danish. “Isn’t it a bit early for you and your boy to be leaving?” Buck asked. My Mother replied, “Today’s not a good day for us and it’s probably not a good day for you.” She practically ran down the sidewalk dragging me behind and didn’t slow until the Bleddstone house disappeared behind a wall of Junipers. She kneeled a-1anger and looked deeply into my eyes as though she wanted to bury something deep inside of me; something that I’d likely to forget, yet it would somehow be something that would shape my life: “Bruises aren’t tokens of love. And that first yellow and green and blue and nobility purple resemble badly applied make-up and doesn’t streak down your cheek with the tears. But, you realize, the bruise is deeper, a place that can’t be wiped away but is absorbed like the deep pile carpeting of your marriage. And as your shivering fingers deftly touch it you hear his voice, “Want one more? Another helping?” And the next morning you awaken early and study your portrait in the bathroom mirror: the accolades about your beauty just a few years ago: “Priceless, gorgeous, the face of perfection!” But this morning you realize the beauty is counterfeit. And while closing the bathroom door so he doesn’t stir, out they come sob after sob after sob after sob all fueled by unutterable recollections.

The moment Buck stepped threw the door he saw Buddy slap Daisy so hard that she’d spun, landing face down and splayed across the kitchen table. When the plate of Danish shattered as it struck the kitchen floor its sound broke through Buddy’s madness, leaving him out of breath and surprised by his degree of destruction. Buck calmly walked to Daisy, scooped her into his arms and began to walk out of the kitchen, when he suddenly turned to Buddy, “I assume you’ll be here after Daisy’s packed a few things and is sitting in my car. I think we’ve got a thing or two that requires immediate intervention. Don’t you?” Buddy stood motionless then began crying. “You know,” Buck said, “In twenty-eight years I never, not once, laid a hand on her.” Then Buck climbed the stairs with Daisy cradled in his arms.

“She wrote to you, didn’t she?” I asked.

“Yes,” she replied, “Right after Buck passed away. She said they never talked about it. Not once for all those years.”

“Never?” I asked.

“Just once,” she said sadly, “When Buck knew time was running out.”

“So?” I asked quickly.

“She asked me not to discuss it with anyone, any-one, until she passed away,” my Mother answered.

“And?” my curiosity leaped ahead of my manners.

My Mother paused, then answered, “She mentioned only two things: She said that while sitting in Buck’s car she swore a wrecking ball was demolishing the kitchen.” Then my Mother paused and in that silence I knew she was fighting back very painful memories and the tears which soon follow. Continuing, she spoke quietly, “She said while sitting in Buck’s car and for the rest of her life, that she never found an answer to this question: ‘How can love as deep as mine look like this?”

a1-bottled anger

Winter Recollection

images-5

Floating from heaven

(perhaps an angel’s first molt),
flakes-first-to-fall
scout the coldest
snowflake1of cold places where
snowflakes might make landfall
and swallow our feet like sand
at the ocean’s edge.

The first few dance like marionettes and,
like children, are delighted and distracted and
saddened, our cold clowns drafted
by the blizzard. More and more
and still more;
An avalanche of grated gray clouds
images-9
now spill like puzzle pieces
fashioning a flourishing,
custardly-creamy, alabastrine tapestry
imbued with tips of crystalline
facets that wink at Ol’ Sol
as his hammer struck
and cleaved and chiseled through miles
images-1of gray Merino wool.
Flakes-of-the-First-Order
avoid the silken strands of Alpaca wool to see its target:
the pudgy pink tongues
of pursuing schoolgirls and their
hope to catch a piece of heaven.

There’s Cold and then there’s Cold!

THERE’S COLD . . .

001-pondsCold cream, the cold shoulder, cold as ice, having a cold, Cold War, stone-cold dead, cold sores, knocked-out cold, cold (sexual disinterest), cold feet, cold turkey, cold water man (a Scot that doesn’t drink alcohol), cold cuts, cold storage, catch a cold, “…has a cold…” (politician, diplomat, or executive is fired), cold air, quit cold (die suddenly), cold fish, cold snap, cold as a cucumber, “blood runs cold” (profound apathy for others), cold blood, cold storage, cold cereal, cold sweat, cold front, cold comfort, “cold hands, warm heart” (lovey-dovey idiom), “cold, hard cash” (nothing’ but greenbacks003-coldone (US currency printed in green on one side starting in 1862; aka “Legal Tender”)), “feed a cold and starve a fever” (axiom first used in 1574 as a remedy for fever), “a cold one” (euphemism describing an ice-cold beer), “… she’s a cold one (or, cold tart)”, (disparaging expression used by a refuted suitor when describing a woman disinterested in his unmannerly advances), “cold as a witches bosom [sic]” (vague expression of “cold” in varying contexts), cold, hard facts (1. Empirical Data generally used in the sciences for unquestionable facts; 2. My mother’s off-handed remark whenever I 004-coldduck1was dumped by a girl (implying “. . . silly boy, you’ll never get a girl so face the facts . . .”)), cold case (police investigation which remains unsolvable after exhausting every lead), cold plate (recipes served cold), cold duck (originally invented in Detroit in 1937 and was based on a German legend. The recipe calls for one part Mosel wine, one part Rhine wine with one part of Champagne,002-coldshwr2 seasoned with lemons and balm mint.), knocked cold, leave out in the cold, out cold (unconscious, intoxicated, sound asleep), stop cold, take a cold shower (an often futile attempt to quell the hormones associated with lust). 

AND THEN THERE’S COLD . . .

004-below01“Cold enough for you?” I kept an eye on my thermometer all yesterday. The temperature remained steady at -13º F which coincidently is the precise temperature of ice cream. I’ve lived in the Northern Hemisphere all my life, so I’m very familiar with the winter season: days are shorter, sun remains low on the horizon, a cloudy and snowy day is likely to be warmer than a clear day (clouds capture heat and the sun’s too low on the horizon to radiate warmth added by clear skies which allows ground heat to rise upwards), all dogs love snow, we all wish for a “White Christmas.”

006-lifebelow0“If you don’t cover your ears and nose they’ll be the first to freeze, next will be your fingers and your toes,” At -13º F frostbite can begin immediately to susceptible parts of the body such as: tip or whole nose, ear lobes, fingers, and toes.  Common warning signs include: progressing numbness and a loss of sensitivity to touch. The affected area will also tingle or feel as if it is burning. As the condition worsens, the pain begins to fade or eventually disappear. Frostnip (which I experienced only yesterday on my right hand)) is a superficial freezing of the outer layer of the skin which turns white as blood circulation decreases, then stings, and becomes quite painful. Frostnip can occur during vigorous outdoor activity and you may not be aware of it until you stop exercising. 

001-sledding2“Come in from the cold!” was a chorus sung ritually during winter by my aunt that babysat for us. She knew what was coming when I refused to wear the childish, insulated, and nylon snow pants. So she kept vigil at the window which overlooked the school yard for that first warning sign of a child wearing cotton pants and sliding and falling into drifts of snow. I never noticed that my wet pants quickly yielded to the cold. Suddenly my bottom half was encased in ice which would stick to my legs. Every step home felt like pen knives were being poked into my legs, my bottom, and my feet. When I stepped into the house and started to undress my aunt hurried to stop me, then quickly placed me right in front of the heat register and turned up the heat. Then she handed me a cup of hot cocoa saying, “Drink that cocoa slowly because as those pants begin to melt, so will you. And honey, you ain’t felt anything that hurts like that!” Then over her shoulder as she walked away, “And tomorrow those snow pants won’t look so childish!”

001-girlwithdog1 “It’ll be a cold day in hell!” before I cross the street to schmooze. The other night I saw a leggy woman walking an equally leggy dog wearing a unitard (the long-legged dog was wearing it not the leggy walker, who’d resemble an Olympic swimmer languidly strolling down a snowy sidewalk on a blustery eve). I and my dog crossed the street beneath the guise of doggy introductions. After they’d had their bouts of butt-ery I finally asked the woman, “what on earth is your dog wearing?” Her Tsk, followed by the 180 degree hair toss followed by a voluminous, lung-filling sigh told me that our humorous repartee was chilly when her answer was dipped in the patronizing tone fondue, “Why, it’s a Unitard, of course; cold dogs are a reality. They’re all wearing them in Lincoln Park. But I suppose way up here in . . . in Roger’s Park . . . “ to which I interjected, “Lady, are you lost? This is Edgewater where, believe it or not, our dogs wear fur coats in winter and in summer we relish our hot dogs!”