Tag Archives: acceptance

Papers of Pain

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Amidst the debris of clutter, among the years of things piled upon, chaotic shoving in of spaces, of things of little to no importance due to the distance of time, papers of pain were uncovered. A history unfolded in short passages, messages, of people passed on, most forgotten or unknown to the one riffling through the quagmire of emotions that the refuse brings.

Losing one’s parents is hard enough; uncovering aspects of them that you only thought you knew becomes the harder part to take in.

“Please forgive me…” began way too many letters, or messages in holiday/birthday cards, found among the leavings. Reading what he did was painful enough, so Bill only skimmed along, tossing, tossing, tossing…keeping a short pile that he knew he would confront at another time. Not now, not so soon, and maybe…maybe never.  Private thoughts that now are laid bare, never for his eyes in the first place. He thought: Do I have the right/need to know any of this?

Short words of “Love,…,” saying so little, punctuated by messages that left messages of hope and caring, of hurt, pain, and an end to suffering. Is that how they lived for so long, Bill thought, even as he knew the answer. He hoped to escape the yelling, the push and pull games, the neediness from such a young age, and he ran out as fast as he could when he was younger. He knew, though, he could not just abandon, for their world crashed down upon them, and with that crashing he became one of the broken pieces, held together with glue and tape, shattered enough, strong enough. At times.

And then…then, buried snatches of the other. There were the messages of love he now found. They were concealed among the many non-meaning platitudes. They were not long, snippets only, words of caring, of hope, of praise, of cleansing. Bill read these, everyone of them, in full, sometimes again and again. He weighed these few against the pile of pain, and while his own heart was heavy, his chest tight, his stomach roiling…he weighed the messages of love against those of suffering.

Shaking his head to clear the conflict inside, Bill put them all together in one bag, sealing it for now. They could lay still and silent, or battle amongst themselves in the bag.  He held his parents in his hands, their words, their wounds,  and their care and concern for each other. It was one weight, one mass, and he felt it was equal, balanced enough, as he carried it away with him.

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Yesterday, Memories (non-fiction)

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In Memory
1926-2012

My mother passed away on October 14th, 2012. One major reason I haven’t been writing, or that my meager attempts have been sombre. My father died on October 15th, 1999, which has still sent shivers through me, that they parted this earth one calendar day apart (although thirteen years passed).

It’s Halloween, a holiday she did enjoy, seeing all the children in their costumes, playing like she was afraid of the “scary” ones, cooing over the very cute tots and babies coming out for their first Trick or Treating, and giving out bags of candy (each bag had to be the same, piece by piece, number by number, so she felt no child felt cheated).  It’s been one of my favorite holidays as well…not so much this year.

She was “known” in our family as the “family historian,” being able to recall all the family stories, connections, etc. This she did orally, rarely writing anything down. Which is a shame: those stories now only reside in the memories of those who listened, and if we don’t write them down, they’ll be gone.

I did find her beginning attempts to write some of the history down, colored through her lens. I’m posting it here where I normally write my own fiction. Not sure when/if I’ll really come back to this blog with any real attention. I hope you enjoy her early memories.

Yesterday, Memories…by

Edith A. Nager: 1926-2012

(1)          My mother and father met and married in Odessa, Russia. Papa had served in the Russian Army for five years and then was discharged. I have a picture of him in his uniform. He was quite dashing. He came to America first and then sent for my mother. This was before the First World War

(2)          The day I was born my father declared it a holiday. He kept my three oldest brothers home from school. The other two were too young for school. There were five boys and now me. The truant officer came to the house and asked why they were home, and Papa said: “After five boys, a girl was born!” That fine gentleman stayed and helped Papa celebrate.

                Mama said, and I quote her: “This is it! If it’s another boy, no more!” Papa ran through the building knocking on doors to tell them the good news. He finally had a daughter.

 

(3)          Saturdays, my mother did not cook. Papa said it was Mama’s time off. He went to the kosher deli and bought Pastrami, Corned Beef, Specials (knockwursts), Salami, Knobelwurst (very garlicky salami), and rye bread. The mustard came in paper cones. Oh my, how delicious it all was. Mama made the potato salad.

                Saturday evening after sundown was the time to turn on the radio and listen to station WEVD. It was Jewish music and singing. It was OK, but Sunday morning was better. Same station, but it was all about “Troubles of People” and “The Bintel Brief,” as well as more music and singing.

                The “Troubles of People” were some of the saddest tales you could hear. Husbands came to the Promised Land first and became Americanized. They met other women, forgetting about the wives and children back home. Sometimes it was a three hankie story.

 

(4)          Sunday brunch was out of this world. Bagels, bialys, pumpernickel bread, sweet butter, cream cheese, Muenster & farmer cheese; Belly lox, a large smoked white fish, and pickled herring in cream sauce with onions. Of course, a large salad: lettuce, tomato, cucumber, radishes and green pepper. We ate and talked. Everyone showed up for this feast. My brothers: Lou, Phil, Ezra, Sam, Bernie and me…and of course, Mama and Papa.

 

(5)          My brother Bernie gave me a lot of grief. He was the youngest of the boys. He used to tell me I smelled like a flower: it was called a stink weed. One day, he came home from school and went to the medicine cabinet. He took out a box of Feenamint. He got a box of Chicklet’s Gum and replaced it with the laxative. Some of the boys in school were giving him a hard time, so he got even. They never bothered him again. We gave him a new name: we called him “Dr. Fleckel.”

 

(6)          Walking with a group of girls and boys along the Gran Concourse to Fordham Road you could window shop. The stores stayed open till 9:00 p.m. We went to Rushmyers on University Avenue for Ice Cream in the summer and hot chocolate in the winter. We’d also go to 161st Street to Addie Valin’s and the Roxey Deli.

                Trolley cars in the summer, the sides were heavy metal mesh so you would feel cool. It cost five cents each way and some of us would take a ride in the evening. We went all the way to Throgs Neck and back. This was before A.C.

Silence, Leading To…

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For fear

Aspects of  horror to hear

Words that one refuses oneself

Does not still the malignancy that eats away

eats away

eats

Until what is left is nothing.

For fear

Leading to silence

Leaping from silence

Causes a deepening hole

That can’t be crawled out of.

Silence, Leading To

Leading

To

A hole.

No one else can listen to that silence

They can infer

Observe

Walk away

Brush off

But, the silence widens

engulfs

implodes

Leading to…

Disposable Man

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Barry ran away from his life when he was 50. It took him that long to get fed up, to finally give up, give in. Barry felt empty, oh so tired: no matter what came his way, he was just not happy. So he ran.

He had always been a giver, always looking to help, to please, to organize, cajole, and interact. Barry gave, and others took. And took. And took: everyone wanted from him, they wanted something, when they needed it; the rest of the time, Barry didn’t seem to exist for them. They finally sucked him dry, and in giving nothing back in return, Barry was nothing more than a shell.

What Barry wanted was equal parity. What he got was sitting alone in his bedroom, staring at the TV, or reading, or staring out the window…waiting for the phone to ring, for someone to want to him to be with them. “I want you to want me...” played in his head too often; just as often, it would end with “…you can’t always get what you want!

There had been children, family, friends: all got older, their lives became complicated, its own swirling chaos that engulfed them day to day. Barry was forgotten, or he felt that way. The reaching out  continued, but from his side, always his side. When someone needed him he was there. He offered, was taken up on it more times than not, but that, too, was fading away. His children barely acknowledged his existence-both married, both far away. His brothers and sister were fleeting connections at best, more so since both parents were now gone. And friends…friends were few and far between, allowing the miles, years and their own family needs make the inevitable changes. He was “between girl friends,” meaning he’d been alone for a very long time.

One morning, Barry packed what he thought he’d need in the way of clothes and threw it into the trunk of his finally paid off car. He emptied his pitiful bank account, came back home to cancel his phone/internet service and electricity, and then sat there. Fear immobilized him at this point, dredging up all the regrets he carried, winding him up in tremors and cold sweats. Tears flowed freely, something he had not allowed to happen in a very long time.  It took some effort, but Barry finally stood up, cleaned his face, and walked out, leaving the door to his apartment unlocked.

Hours later, Barry stopped only to gas up and give himself a short physical break. Cup of coffee in hand, he sat in his car and sipped the steaming beverage. He tried so hard to concentrate on just that one thing: hot coffee, slow sip, let it run down his throat, heat spreading out. Again. His life kept intruding on this action, but he finally got things buried away, as best he could. Barry placed the coffee in the car’s cup holder. It was time to go on.

Barry turned the key, the car’s engine ignited,  and without looking left or right, forward or back, he sped onto the main road.

When Did We Get So Old? (A Picture Book)

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When did we get so old?
I don’t mean the aches and pains
The loss of memories
Nor the furrows in our brows
The wrinkles and changes
Sagging skin
Shrinking
 
 
 
 
 
 
When did we get so old
That we shake our head what is new
And “tsktsktsk” like our grandparents
And hold onto regrets
Or retreat into the past
Saying goodbyes
More often?
 
 
 
Have we lost sight of fun
As vitality slowly takes flight
Of purpose more then money
Holding onto things
Letting people go
More afraid of dying
Then living
 
 
 
What is wrong with living young,
Being silly and thinking free?
Afraid more of the grey on top
Instead of the growing malaise
Of the grey reaching down
Sucking us dry
Withering insides
 
 
 

(c) Matt Brown

 
When did we get so old?
Time is a passing thing
We have no control
It is what it is
So let it pass
So let it pass
 
I have a kite to fly
 

 

Impressions of Perfect Fifths

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Marc Chagall

His hands played along the surface of the violin, tracing the patterns worn into the wood. Slight depressions,  imprintings of someone’s fingering, their palm, chin, sweat. Empty of catgut, Avram, the luthier, caressed and stroked the violin that was given unto his care for restoration. He closed his eyes, held the violin to his nose, and breathed in its history.

The drawing of the horsehair bow that had slid along the strings left intermittent grooves in the wood. They showed where a well loved piece was played,  how the violinist drew against the grain of the violin itself. Clumsy or a style, it was all the same to Avram: this was a well loved instrument, that was apparent, and it would become one again.

He noticed the nicks, the dimples in the varnish, the grain of the wood, the stains not readily perceived, but there. There was a very slight crack near the base of the right F-hole, the chinrest needing to be replaced, a refastening of the tailpiece and scroll. Sitting on his wooden stool, Avram kept the violin out of direct sunlight, a strain for his eyes but a blessing for the instrument.

The tuning pegs were worn down, without sheen. Avram could tell that the strings had been replaced, often, their lifespan given to the music: either no longer playing true, losing the desired tone, or snapping in the frenzy of the player.  That did not matter to Avram. He would eventually make a new marriage, adding the G first, then the D, followed by the A and E. He would attach them at the base, up the bridge, along the neck and finally connect them all to the pegbox. All would then be tuned, in harmony, restored.

This though, was still a ways to come. All in due time…

Eventually, time for music to be lifted out and carried, vibrating its musical message to others. Time for this violin to find new hands, a new lover, to be held towards and against the player, to communicate and be in tune once again.

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Author’s Note:

I was given a newspaper article by my SO about Violins of Hope, a project of restored violins that had a history of pain: they came from musicians who “experienced” the horrors of the Holocaust. There was a concert in Charlotte, NC in April 2012. The violins are now back in Israel.

This immediately got my writing gears in motion: I have plotted out titles of chapters, an outline, for what I will be working on next. I plan to get a first draft done of all this while it is still “hot” for me; then, in June, I’ll put this aside and start working on the second draft of the Swan Rise stories.

This was just to whet your whistle. I will NOT be posting any of my Violin stories on Tale Spinning after this: I want it to be marketable for an agent/publisher, if worthy. I WILL be looking for readers along the way, to form a small core group, maybe our own writers group, so if you’re interested, please EMAIL me (please don’t post it here: my email can be located on the right sidebar).

As to Tale Spinning: I’ll be dropping some pieces here and there throughout May, as the story comes to me or I find a fun prompt that inspires. Please check out my backlog of past pieces; there is a lot here, and if you’re new, well…then they’ll be new to you as well.

Remember: comments are always welcome.

You Ain’t!

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You ain’t gonna tell me what to think

You ain’t gonna tell me what to say

You ain’t gonna tell me what to read

You certainly ain’t gonna tell me how to bleed

What I care for; What I think

Mine to choose; I ain’t no sheep

 

What I choose, for my own good

Not hateful, it’s understood

Freedom to live, in my own way

Your condemnation will not sway

But try cutting me off

Try shutting me up

You ain’t…you ain’t…you ain’t…

 

You ain’t gonna tell me what to think

You ain’t gonna tell me what to say

You ain’t gonna tell me what to read

You certainly ain’t gonna tell me how to bleed

What I care for; What I think

Mine to choose; I ain’t no sheep

 

The Sanguine Milk of Human Kindness

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“He is so thoroughly mean and evil,” she said.

“Yes, he is.” After some more observing, he smiled, and added: “I like him.’

“So do I.”

They were enjoying the musical very, very much, and the male lead had the audience in his hands. William was dancing while dangling from the the main support beam; Hannah maintained her form, as she was in her best gown for opening night, and stood swaying from the flies. In shadow, they stayed out of the way of the stage crew, as they had done ever since they found the playhouse, soon after it was built in 1931.

Feeding gently on the various thespians and crew over the years kept them both sated and happy; never a death, never anything more than a slight “case of the vapors” (so long ago), or a need, now,  for extra vitamins and “recreational” medicines. This was bliss for the two, and they knew how to show their appreciation.

They had experienced many plays over the past eighty years, from joyous to downright dreadful. The really good ones sent them into flights of fancy; the horrible ones they hid from, cringing in the wings on opening nights, hoping against all hope that something would pull together. Those nights, they slunk off and drank their sorrows away, elsewhere.

Tonight was not one of those nights. This musical was magic, the leads were solid, and the cast’s enjoyment in their craft was infectious. Hannah did not have to convince William in the least. This was a night for celebrations.

“Time?” he asked, raising his eyes to meet hers. She was already changing shape, losing mass in the way their kind just did, and her dress transformed with her into bat like form. William always thought this revamp suited her well, but he was funny that way.

“Time,” Hannah answered, and off she flew, with William close behind her.

They both flew over the audience, causing quite the sensation. The audience “Ooooed” and “Ahhhhed”,  a mixture of pleasure  at the song being sung and also noticing the two Civic Center Bats (capitalized, as they were part of the mythos) flying overhead.

It was said when the Bats flew out, the play was a hit. When William and Hannah did not take to wing, the play was a flop, and everyone knew it. The actresses and actors, and finger crossed directors, collectively held their breaths, so to speak, trusting the bats on a wing and a prayer.

Well, two sets of wings, and a lot of prayer.

William stayed up high, as was his want. Hannah dove over the stage, circled once over the male lead, showing her approval, and then flew back to the flies high above the stage. William was already there as she misted back to humanoid form. He walked over, adjusted her dress just so, and gave her a kiss. Hannah returned the kiss, deeply, and the two of them watched the rest of the performance from way above the stage.

He had his arm around her shoulders and she had her arm around his waist.

When the show was over, they roundly joined  in the applause, shouting “Bravo!” and “Encore!” with the rest of the assemblage. Except for their extended canines and the fact they were hanging upside down from a catwalk, they were like the rest of the crowd: appreciative for a show well done.

The cast came out for it’s encore, and the theater quieted down. William and Hannah, who had been privy to all the rehearsals, knew the encore song quite well. They held hands while they sang along…

“The milk of human kindness is the loveliest drink in the world, the loveliest drink in the world, that’s what people think in the world…”

Soon, show over, crowds gone, the cast and stage crew packing up for the night… feeding time…

It was the loveliest drink in the world

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Author’s Note

I was told a tale by the male lead of the musical “Scrooge”, now playing at the Muncie Civic Theatre in Indiana. I met Todd Terrell many years ago at the Indiana Thespian Festival, where I was a Guest Artist, running theater  workshops for truly amazing High School students. Todd was in charge of it all at that time, a well respected theater teacher.

I am equally sure he is an excellent actor. If you live in the Muncie, Indiana area, RUN to get tickets. The show only runs in December.

Todd briefly mentioned the Civic Theater bats to me, how they flew out on his opening night, how he got a standing ovation on said night, and how when the bats (who lived somewhere in the theater) flew, that show was always a hit. The ones where the bats did not fly, well…there was guano on the stage, and the audiences knew it .

So…hearing the story and the theatrical superstition around it, I just took it that one (or two) steps beyond. Hope you like it.

The song lyrics of “The Milk of Human Kindness” are (c) by Leslie Bricusse and I only used what was freely offered on line. If you want the whole song, there is a thing called royalties. Pay them…it’s good karma.

Sonnet: Waking Up

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Leaning against the door, she studies him.

She walks around, soft; coffee cup in hand,

Taking silent sips, tongue tracing the rim

Up for an hour; he lies in sleep land

Broadly smiling, cup down,  decision made:

Gently easing onto the bed, sitting,

Reaching over, nudging, playfulness paid

He wakes and grins;  bodies entwine, fitting.

But, what if the need  to cuddle exceeds

The want of contact, company and touch?

What is pull, and what is push; what misleads

If he misunderstands; What is too much?

“Good morning” he says, hugging  her so tight

Waking him, early thus, ends up all right.

..and i will be free

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Freedom by artist Zenos Frudakis

Freedom, and the taste of it is so sweet.

Elephteria, released, ran out into the quad and raised her arms and head to the heavens. Five years of interment, awake the entire time. The madness that she thought would never end, ended. She was ready to take flight, ask for forgiveness, ask for acceptance.

Xaris, released, tried to warn Laurel, to hold her wild rush. His fear for her was brimming over. He, too, was aware the whole time, and what he heard as people sneered by made him dread this day. There was no forgiveness, in his heart, to ask for. Xaris knew he would never be accepted.

Laurel, released, was hesitant, and despaired in what she witnessed. Five years of hatred for Elephteria, five years of tearing herself apart knowing Xaris was only thinking of her. She was twisting in despair, and she wondered if he would ever forgive her, if she would ever accept herself as she was.

Raffaele, released, refused to be, for he had not forgiven himself in these long five years. He felt the four of them should stay imprisoned, in that immobile state until all who knew them were long gone. There was a need for atonement, for them all, and he hit the button under his palm that encased him again. He did not wish to have to deal with any of them ever again. He accepted that.

News Ding 2049/15/11:  Freedom, and the taste of it is so sweet.

The October Malcontents were realeased  at 0700, back into the land we love. Fiver years ago, the collective tried to break down our beloved system, saying NO to the rules that keep us all safe. Shouting slogans against our beloved establishment, the rousing of ire caused their downfall. Here’s hoping they have learned their lessons.

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Tymothy Longoria of Aspire No More posted this on his blog and the picture went viral around FaceBook (not sure if anywhere else). Here is what Tymothy wrote:

The piece, for me, is stunning and thought provoking to say the very least.

It also inspired me to write something, not so much about it, but along the lines of what is happening here. Fighting for freedom and the feeling one may or may not feel is he succeed/fails.

So, that inspired me further.

And that is this:

Write your piece, under 500 word for short story or a suitable length for poetry 

Title? I’ll keep it simple.

Freedom.

What will you get? The writing experience, the joy of creating, a spot on this blog and permission to gloat on Facebook, The Twitter and anywhere you choose. You may find a new audience.

I did not take the title he gave (Sorry Tymothy), but I did take the challenge, and used Freedom as the first word. I hope you like it.