City Tales: Life of Don

don116

He had to admit she was beautiful. Not in the glamour-magazine-cover/swimsuit-edition style of beauty, but in the something real, something warm style.

In the style of beauty that said, “These are my eyebrows! They’re perfect. Just the way they are.  I don’t need lace when I’ve got a cotton T. Why take half a portion when I’m famished? And besides. Your cooking is superior.”

In other words, Mac was down-to-earth. She was a natural beauty.

don115

McKenzie was not Don’s type–at least that’s what everyone who knew Don said, and to his face, as often as they could.

“Congrats, but what were you thinking, dude?”

Most people gave it eight days. Then, after eight days passed, they gave it eight weeks. Now, after eight weeks, they gave it eight months.

He’d been thinking even eight years wouldn’t see it through to its end. This was a long-time type of thing.

They all said that his type was flirty, sexy, hot–the kind of woman you called a “chick.” Not the kind of woman you called… a woman.

He wouldn’t even call her a lady–and for sure, not a girl–because he knew enough to know those were not PC.

Not that he cared about PC. He didn’t give a damn. But he cared about her.

don107

He cared about her enough to marry her.

Yeah. It surprised him, too.

don110

Sure, you could call it a whirlwind.

It was more like an acid trip. Or maybe an endorphin explosion.

He looked out the window of her apartment–their apartment–out over the coastal mountains. It had been a weird, endorphin-thing, acid-trippy thing, with no drugs involved. Just love and sex, which were the two strongest drugs known to man–err, humankind–anyway.

don114

He was still high.

They’d been married two months, and he hadn’t come down yet.

don113

Now and then a brief moment of clarity intruded: He was married. And not to one of the Caliente chicks.

He was living in an apartment, of all things, and he had to ride an elevator to reach their floor.

He was living in the fricking city. In the city. With fog all around. And tugboats. And honking fog horns in the middle of the night. This was about as far from the desert as a dude could get.

And his wife was An Artist.

don111

She said things like “This gruyere has a flowery, fruity note, don’t you think?”

“It’s melted,” he’d say back. “Like melty. You know?”

But that was what he liked about her.

don112

She may not seem like his type, but that’s exactly what made McKenzie his type.

Some nights, they’d be sitting watching “The Bletchley Circle” and McKenzie would start talking about coded messages in shifts of light.

don109

“You know that’s what Seurat was after,” she said one evening. “Every dot of light received by our brain is processed into a seamless whole: we reconstruct it into meaning.”

He watched as she finished the painting the next day.

“I see what you were talking about,” he said. “Like I gotta do the work in my brain to finish it.”

“That’s right,” she replied. “You’re the co-creator. It just dots until you complete the process and turn it into something that signifies.”

don106

“I like that you don’t talk down to me,” he said.

“Why would I?” she replied. “You’re intelligent and perceptive.”

No one had ever called him that before.

don108

Of course, he could be intelligent and perceptive and still be a hunk. What would his wife say? “One did not preclude the other.” Dang! He was getting good!

don105

Easels stood before the windows in McKenzie’s studio. Mac often had two or three paintings going at once, but one or two easels were always empty.

Don found it tempting to paint.

don104

“You should!” McKenzie said, when he told her he was thinking of picking up a brush. “You’ve got an artist’s soul, Don. That’s what first drew me to you!”

“And here I thought it was my abs,” he said.

“Well, they don’t hurt!” she replied, with a wink.

don103

He felt afraid to start painting. He’d reveal how inartistic he truly was.

He stuck to leaving his shirt off when they were hanging around the place.

“Only an artist would slice tomatoes with such care,” Mac said. He was pleased that she noticed the precise angle of each cut.

don102

“You think you’ll ever get bored of me, babe?” he asked her sometimes. They were good together, chemistry-wise and between-the-sheets–he knew that. But it was in the area of conversation and learning that he felt incompetent.

He knew he was smart. Anybody attracted to Mac would have to be smart. But he wasn’t educated, and that was the rub.

Why, she could have any college professor, doctor, psychiatrist, writer, editor, book publisher, art dealer–anybody intelligent that she wanted. Intelligent and educated.

And here she was with him. He hoped his brain was man enough for her.

don101

Author’s Notes: City Tales is back with a new installment, following Don and McKenzie in their fancy apartment across town. It wasn’t my idea to have Don and Mac get together: This was entirely the game and MCCC. While I was playing CT for “My Lovely Landlord,” I received notification of their marriage. Don moved in with McKenzie to the beautiful apartment that MCCC had moved her into. They’re very happy.  I’m writing Don true to how he is in the game, so don’t blame me if he’s nice! And even if somebody is sweet, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he is entirely innocent, especially with Lily Feng as a neighbor!

Advertisement

Septemus 1

sept118

Dear Sept,

Three days ago, you came to live with me. I wanted from the first to write this account of our life together so that when you’re on your own, later, when you’re all grown up, you can have something to look back on, to help you remember, to keep you connected to your past, and maybe even, to answer some questions.

sept117

I don’t have that with my dad. He came back from the war broken. I guess it broke my mom, too. After she died, I went to live with Nonny and Poppy, my dad’s parents. I was about five when we had my dad’s funeral. I remember guns going off and even a band played. I still can’t stand the sight of dress uniforms and flags.

sept116

I make it sound like my childhood sucked. But it didn’t. Nonny and Poppy were probably way better parents for me than my mom and dad ever could have been. So it wasn’t like I suffered. I just had questions and trauma. Like all of us do.

sept115

Anyway, Nonny and Poppy died when I was in college. I figured I could do life on my own. I majored in early childhood education because I like little kids and I want to help build a better world, and I figured I’d never have kids of my own, so why not help raise other people’s kids?

sept114

Then I went on to get a master’s in library science. I got the idea I’d work as a children’s library. But nobody’s hiring. I graduated last May and I’m still unemployed.

sept101

I guess the agency found me through the ECE degree. They sent that letter to all University of MP ECE grads from the past four years.

I had to think hard before accepting. I took a few phone calls from people at the agency.

Then I decided, why not? You needed me. No one else did.

sept102

And I’ve got the time and training to take care of you.

sept103

You were Number 77–the seventy-seventh foundling out of one hundred. Seeing as our last name is Sevens, I thought that was auspicious. That’s why I’ve named you Septemus. Septemus Sevens.  Your official ID of record is G27Z0-77.

sept112

You’re sleeping now, which gives me these few minutes to write. Because when you’re awake, it’s non-stop action.

sept107

I’d better get snack ready. You’ve got a tendency to wake up mad and hunGRAY!

sept113

I’m doing my best to keep you happy, little 77. Bear with me.

Your caregiver,

Sebastion

sept123

Author’s note: Oh, look! I’ve started Pinstar’s newest challenge, the Alien Adoption Challenge, because who can resist? Hope you have fun following along with me as Sebastion Sevens does his best to raise young Septemus (Official ID of Record G27Z0-77). Cheers!

Next >>

Forgotten Art: Norman – Newt 8

A reply to: A letter from Newt

Hey, Newt.

So, read your letter. And I’m writing back.

While I was reading, I kept flashing on this story my uncle told me when we were hiking at the bluffs.

newt712

It’s about the charnel ground. Have you heard of that?

It’s a burial site. But for Buddhists. It’s also a literal place for transformation. Figurative, too.

See, according to my uncle, that’s where the bodies would be left–above ground, so that vultures and jackals could feed on them and all the flesh and stuff would decay and then the sun would bleach the bones. So when the process is done, all that’s left are clean white sun-bleached bones. But the way there stinks.

My uncle had way too much fun describing it:

“Vultures descending, tearing the sinews, gulping down eyeball. Entrails stretching across the plain. Jackals sneaking in after dark, howling with their strange laughs that sound like a child’s cry, grabbing the muscles, gobbling the rotting fat. Hair, loose, dry, brittle hair, flowing everywhere.”

newt711

My uncle is strange. I never know what he’s trying to say. Growing up, I called him “Uncle Obtuse.” He wasn’t going to volunteer the point of the story. So I asked him.

newt710

He shrugged. “Life is messy,” he said.

newt709

At one of the first group sessions I went to at HoH, they showed a film. The purpose of the film was to show how PTSD is PTSD, no matter from what or experienced by whom. So, they interviewed war vets. They interviewed witnesses of 9/11. They interviewed people who experienced domestic violence. They interviewed refugees.

Afterwards, the group talked about how they felt watching the film.

When it was my turn, I started analyzing the camera angles, which were generally really low, looking up at the person, or really high, looking down, and so the effect was one of disassociation, and then I started analyzing the lighting, which was weirdly bright, and then I started talking about the effects of digital film vs. celluloid. Everyone listened. I thought I was doing pretty well.

Then the group counselor asked, “What did you feel watching the film, Norman? What do you feel now?”

“I don’t do emotions,” I replied.

One woman spoke up, “If you don’t do emotions, emotions do you.”

I stopped doing emotions when I was was a kid. It was a day that started out as the best day of my life, and ended up as the day I stopped doing emotions.

mel109

My dad took my sister and me out to see the wind turbines.  It was a big day–Dad was featured in all these articles for bringing wind power to Windenburg, and he was making a name for himself.

At the time, I kept half an eye on the sky. I was a big fan of raptors and other birds of prey. When we reached the field below the turbines, I spotted an osprey. At the time, they were my favorites. I had this idea they were lucky. I watched it soar. I was about to point it out to Meadow when it flew too close to the wind-blades. There was a white explosion of feathers. And then–nothing. Not even a trace.

mel108

I didn’t know how to respond. Dad and Meadow were talking, facing the other way. I didn’t know how to tell them what had happened.

I decided to not say anything. I stacked the emotions. I didn’t know what else to do. My dad was my hero. He was this big environmental leader guy. And his big project that was getting all the attention was killing birds of prey. The dissonance was too much.

When I took over his business, I still had my emotions shelved. I knew ethically that I wanted us to find a way to do wind power without killing birds. Did you know that some years up to 250 birds of prey were killed? That’s owls, osprey, falcons, kestrels, eagles, vultures, and raptors of all kinds.

After I met Ira, I decided I had to do something. That’s why we switched to solar. It’s gonna cost us. It’ll cost the business big-time. If we encounter any delays or set-backs, we’ll probably have to issue bonds to see the project through. But even if it bankrupts us, it’ll be worth it. I can get a job as a chemist.

newt713

We’ve been learning in group about the ways that trauma and stress change the brain. It’s true that if you don’t do emotions, emotions do you. Something got split off in me when I turned away from what happened to that osprey. That’s what allowed me to run the company for so many years.

We’ve also been learning that the heart has its own mind, and just like our brain can influence our heart, our heart can influence our brain. It’s a two-way path.

newt701

Ira, Aari, and me, we each learned the same exercise in our groups. It’s called “heart breathing.” For a slow count of five, breathe into your heart. Hold it and rest. Breathe out for five. Pause. As you do this, start breathing from your heart, as if it is your heart breathing in, breathing out.

Don’t think about how it doesn’t make sense. Just do it.

newt702

Aari does it when she starts getting mad. Pretty soon, she’s laughing again.

The trick is to remember to do it.

newt703

I took Meadow up to the hills the other day. I wanted us to look out and see what it was like without the turbines.

newt708

Yeah, I shut the turbines off two weeks ago. They’ve been dismantled.

newt706

I looked at the sun. That sky stretched. Next time I see a falcon or osprey cross that sky, I won’t have to turn away. It’s safe. I can let myself feel the thrill of watching those wings spread.

newt705

So, here I am writing. Newt, I think it’s probably best if you don’t count on me to help. I honestly don’t know how. I am not the kind of guy who helps other people or who even knows how to be helpful, especially when it comes to emotions and feelings.

newt707

You’ve got your therapist for that, thank God.

I’m a friend. I stick. Maybe you can share with me what you learn about doing emotions. I got a lot to learn in that area.

Keep writing, buddy! Keep hanging in there through messy life.

–Norm

newt704

<< Norman’s Previous Letter | Norman’s Next Letter >>

Forgotten Art: Meadow – Dove 11

 A reply to: A letter from Dove

doveex205

Dear INWk,

Thank you for agreeing to be part of my support system! It means so much to me.

I hope that I can reciprocate. I’m not always sure that I have the skills that make a good support person. I’m discovering that I tend to approach life through analysis, analogy, metaphor, synthesis, and pattern-discovery, rather than necessarily feeling my way through life.

I guess I’m a thinker. I never actually realized that! I always feel so deeply on the inside that I assumed I was an emotional person. But the more I work with and interact with others, the more I discover that I am a thinking person. If someone who thinks her way through life can be a useful member of your support team, then I’d love to be on it!

I do think that I might be developing new skills, though–skills with feelings and emotions!

You see–this is so exciting that I get chills as I write this–I’m going back to school! I’m going to get my master’s in art therapy. Actually, my specific focus will be integrating folklore, art therapy, counseling, and trauma studies so that I can work more effectively with those who have experienced domestic violence and with refugees.

At first, I felt it was just being indulgent to even consider going back to school: I mean, I already have a PhD in folklore. But the PhD was entirely for me: it was my passion, and I knew all along that, since I’m not required financially to get a job, I’d work as a freelance scholar in folklore. And I tried telling myself that this was enough–it was misusing my privilege to get more education, especially now that I’m a mom.

But I kept thinking about trauma, resilience, and healing. I find this path of study fascinating–it seems to touch everything: everyone I know, everything I’ve experienced and witnessed, all of human life, especially in these challenging times.

Then, Micah–she’s my uncle’s organ teacher. I think I mentioned her to you in my last letter, and I was saying how, since she was in the group I led through HoH, she couldn’t be on my support team, but guess what? She and I are now leading a workshop together through HoH, which means we can be friends and on each other’s support teams! I’m so excited! Anyway, Micah told me she was going back to school.

“I want to study music therapy,” she said. “There’s all this exciting work being done on the spikes in the Schumann resonance, music, and the promotion of the brain’s capacity to heal from trauma!”

dove1106

She said I should look into the program, and when I did, I found the art therapy path, which seems like it is tailor-made. In a way it is, because University of Windenburg is set up to allow students and professors to create their own paths of study.

Anyway, HoH received a grant to incorporate music, art, and folklore therapy, and so now that Micah and I will be enrolled in degree programs, we can receive grant-funding for the work we do. I’ve talked with the refugee program coordinator, too, to see if they might apply for the same grant so we can also do work there.

It’s such a good thing that my support system is growing! I’ve been reading that counselors really should get their support in place first, before diving into the work.

Do you remember me writing about the repair person who came to fix my stereo? Mizuki Suzuki has become a great friend. She drops by often. We always wind up talking for hours before we even realize that we haven’t even moved out of the foyer!

dove1104

My brother likes her, too. Of course my brother is in a place right now where he likes everyone and everything. Things are going so well for him and Ira and Ira’s daughter, Aaradhya, that he can’t stop smiling. It’s like a lifetime of smiles are finding their expression on his face.

dove1103

With school starting up for me next month, I decided it was time to add another person to our support system: A nanny.

The nanny referral group sent Youssef over to meet us. At first, Jena wasn’t sure what to think. He has a big gray Afro, and I think he reminded her of a scary clown we’d seen in the city.

dove1102

He suggested that I give them a trial run for half-an-hour, and then we could talk about how it went and decide if we felt we would be good matches for each other.

I headed off to the library to pick up a few journals that I’d ordered, leaving him and Jena at home together.

dove1101

When I returned, Youssef and Jena were playing, and she looked delighted! He’s her new best friend.

dove1105

We decided we’re a perfect match! He’s starting right away, and he’ll come by on the same days that I’ll be having my classes. Sometimes, I’ll stay home while he’s here, and sometimes, I’ll head out to do errands or lead my groups at HoH or visit with Mizuki and Micah.

He says that by having Jena get used to the schedule of his visits now, it will make the transition smoother when I return to school. And we’ve agreed that once I’m in school, he’ll come by every day, so that even when I don’t have class, he’ll be here when I need to study.

Oh, dear. This whole letter’s been about me again. See what I mean about my not having the skills yet to be a good support person?

I think I can learn them, though.

doveex202

I’m so fascinated by the thought forums you mentioned in your letter. Tell me more!

I’m also really interested in the exchange of emotions that you experience. I’ve read that this is part of Buddhist psychotherapy, also, and it’s something I hope to learn more about. I’m interested in everything you have to share!

Your girls sound so wonderful! Imagine the resilience and creativity they’re able to develop through having the city neighborhoods as their playgrounds!

Thank you for the advice on picking up Taste of Diet! I was wondering why my skirts were starting to feel a little tight after eating Weight of the World.

I hope that your current research projects are also bringing a sense of discovery and accomplishment, and I’d love to hear anything you can share!

My brother is making big changes to the family business, but that’s something I’ll have to save for another letter. It’s getting late already, and I’ve got the house to clean and laundry to fold before heading off to bed!

Jena wanted to eat a picnic supper in her bed, so I’m expecting to have some crumbs to clean off her blankets before tucking her in.

doveex206

I feel like we’re both so lucky, INWk. You, me–and our families, too! And look at all the good things you’re doing with your good fortune. I want to use mine to help others, too.

All the best to you and yours! Thank you more than you can know for letting me share my enthusiasms with you!

Lots of love,

Meadow

<< Meadow’s Previous Letter | Meadow’s Next Letter >>