Not Done Growing UP

“ I think I figured it out mom.”

“Figured out what?”


“He’s not done growing up.”

“That’s why he behaves the way he does.”




“Come to think of it, you could be right!”

“It’s the so-called youngest child syndrome.”


“Depending on how spoiled he was and how accustomed he became to the privilege of having everyone do things for him…”


“Yup! You are quite right!  He’s not done growing up!”

“Thus the expectation and the feeling of entitlement lives on…”




I thought to myself…

How observant my children are.


I thought about the elocution piece of my nephew…


“Not quite a Man, no longer a Kid”

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Happiness Is

"Happiness," according to a post on, by way of Facebook and a friend's share, via a post from, "is when you feel good about yourself without the need for anyone else's approval." It's not how I would write it, the Writer in me muttered, but I enjoyed the sentiment.

Today I was happy. Today I walked down to the coffee shop through the chilly early morning and wrote like crazy, read and edited, and then walked back home through fine, warming weather. Today I enjoyed brunch at a small local restaurant with my wife. We walked through town to a used book store after brunch and added a few books to the home piles. We strolled back through town to Lithia Park and meandered through the park enjoying the trees and activities while searching for rocks for a cairn. Back home, I trimmed bushes and trees and forked out weeds, took pleasure in cats' fur and cats' purrs, read books, rested my face in the sunshine and remembered friends who'd passed on, ate a simple supper of a grilled salmon salad and a glass of red wine, and watched a few hours of streaming television. Today, I felt I lived my mantra, "Be strong, be healthy, be happy." Today I felt good about myself without anyone's approval. Wish it could be like this for everyone in the world, for all of us, every day, every hour.

Be happy.

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An Independent Woman

A petite slip of being, she cries because she can’t remember.


It’s a flash, a dry crumpling of her expression in the middle of an exertion, a bullet to your heart and mind when you see it and realize her dismal state.

Sometimes the flash is a series of strokes, giving a false impression of one drawn flash, but they’re small flashes piling together to create an illusion.

She’s all about illusions, the illusions she’s being brave and strong, the illusion she can hold on. She calls others crazy and weird and confesses sometimes those are the words others use to characterize her. She’s articulate and then lost, intelligent and then fumbling, happy and then sad.

She confesses to secrets about abusive alcoholic parents, bankruptcy and a chaotic upbringing, and attending college, graduating and working in hospitals, but it’s the untold confessions that titillate. She shares her art, coming in to show her paintings, and she discusses her programs, like Downton Abby. She shuffles when she walks, a torn piece of yellowing newspaper, trying to remind everyone she is still human.

She’s in a good mood today, chatting about the work she had this week, the precious work because it’s extra income and her income is so, so small, backtracking to clarify and elaborate, to find her way again after tangents lure her from her points. A cold, hard gaze answers when assistance is offered. She doesn’t want assistance from anyone. She can use it but she won’t take it. No.


She is an independent woman. Her name is Carol.

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Mary Jo

The crosswalks counted down as I came down Walker’s hill.



The numbers boomed out of the signals and echoed between buildings, skipping off the cement and asphalt.


I reached out and opened the coffee shop door, pleased by the timing, enjoying a mild fantasy that the world had counted down my approach to the coffee shop and the beginning of my writing day. It made me think of Mary Jo and mystic signs, signs that everything will be okay.

Mary Jo passed away a little more than a year ago. It was a sudden death. Without good-byes, she went to bed and never woke up. A coma lasted for a few days and she passed away. Painless for her, we like to think. She was my casual friend but she was my wife’s close friend. A retired schoolteacher, she’d raised several children and sent them on their way, survived her husband’s death, and forged new activities for herself, the sort of organized, energetic, enthusiastic people who depress those of us who are less organized, energetic and enthusiastic. You couldn’t stay in a sour mood around her. We loved her.

To celebrate her passing, my wife organized a remembrance walk through the park for some friends. Twenty of them arrived to walk the woods, and ten stayed together for lunch at Agave’s. Among those going to lunch was a woman who intensely dislikes burritos, describing them first as beans in an envelope, and then, later, as beans in a wet dish rag. Not a burrito fan, is she, no sir.

But here’s the day’s trick that blew our minds. My wife, on entering her car and starting it, heard a jingle she’s never heard before: “This is Mary Jo, my invisible friend, don’t call her Mary, don’t call her Jo, she’s always Mary Jo.”

It was for an insurance company. My wife arrived home and told me about it. She thought it was a sign. I was doubtful – I’d never heard the jingle. She found it on the Internet and played it for me.

I agreed, it must have been a sign of her deceased friend wasn’t with her that day. If not, I’m doubtful I’ll ever recognize a sign.

Meanwhile, a young woman, who looked like she was fifteen, and her mother, arrived at the next table. The young woman experienced trouble logging onto the coffee shop’s new wireless system.  “This is the worse day of my life,” she proclaimed. A pout grew on her face and a sulk hardened in her shoulders.

We need to introduce her to someone positive, like Mary Jo.

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