Saturday, May 22, 2010

Partying with the Dogs Rev 1

The mist was heavy that day, causing her hair to go limp and dampening her clothes as she rushed from vendor to vendor picking up last minute items she needed for the party. She had stayed up really late the night before baking the treats and forgot herself in an entire bottle of wine, incentive and reward for her furious tasks.

Driving out through the hills overlooking the Valley, she grabbed a moment of silence to prepare herself for the ordeal ahead “It’ll be perfect” she thought. I know what I’m doing. I’ve worked parties and events for years.

Then she remembered the episode of Kitchen Nightmares about a caterer who started a restaurant and everything went down the tubes. Maybe I don’t have enough knowledge and experience she whispered fretfully to herself, biting her lower lip. I am an idiot for taking this job!

She made a left turn and headed up the steep driveway. A loud yelp rang out almost immediately scaring her to death as she quickly stomped on the brakes. She ran around to the passenger side, and saw a large dog of indeterminate breed staring reproachfully up at her, whining and whimpering- as he licked his left foot.

She approached him cautiously because she was a “cat person” and was a little intimidated by the exuberance of most of the dogs she had encountered. In just a moment she relaxed, comforted by the thumping sound of his tail hitting the driveway as he struggled to stand. She leaned down and held out her hand just like she had seen on TV, and he immediately leapt upwards, almost throwing her off balance, licking her face and jumping around like a maniac. “Fooled you” she could swear he said in perfect English.

She laughed and then went back to the car, sat down and locked the door. Tears ran down her face as she gasped with relief, and then laughed; releasing all the tension she had carried up the hill from home this morning.

As she put her foot on the gas, and the car moved up the driveway, her new friend raced ahead, stopping now and then to look at her to make sure she was following.

An enormous Spanish style hacienda appeared through the morning mist. The solar exterior lights were sputtering in the dawn, not ready yet to release the night. She stopped her car and climbed the ramp to the front door, a heavy ornate carved masterpiece pried from its original home and transported to this hilltop in the valley.

A large brass knocker hung at shoulder height and she reached for it, almost falling when the door suddenly opened in front of her. Her new friend raced by her, bounding up the circular stairway causing her to falter again.

When she raised her eyes she saw the man who had opened the door.

To be continued…………..

©2010 Sharon J Corrigan

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Walking with Dogs Rev 1

Slow Down

I’ve been walking dogs for the last decade, after a 20 year pet-phobic anti-commitment crisis. Returning to the herd with a passion, I‘ve found that my life is bookmarked by incidents involving dogs, my own and friends, total strangers and these days, an online community. All of the dogs that I have owned are rescued, and each has had their own unique personality. And, as every dog owner eventually finds out, a proclivity to different medical conditions.

I think that my body is permanently twisted trying to hold onto the leash while my dogs pull me down the street, across the park, into the “dog store”, or anywhere that has to do with riding in the car or going off property. My youngest one, nicknamed Punkita, is just thrilled to go outside, but the old guy Joey (like a baby kangaroo) needs the walk to loosen his bowels.

I’ve paid for and attended dog training sessions, which are really called something else, but right now the correct title eludes me. Oh yeah, obedience training. Obviously described by a human, not a dog. I would call it show training or performance training, because once the class is over my dogs always revert to their former dog behavior. It’s really irritating sometimes that they won’t obey me like a human over whom I may have some sort of influence. Joey, my corgi husky mix was the perfect dog at those classes, even when I had the lead, but especially when the trainer used him to demonstrate how a perfectly behaved dog should act

Then we leave the class and all hell breaks loose. Those of you that have seen the trailer for the movie Marley & Me can probably picture this scene in your mind. You get home from work, and the little guys are leaping in the air with joy, seemingly because you are home. That’s all they want. You. There. Playing with them, sitting with them. Sleeping with them. Feeding them (there we go), giving them treats, giving them toys, taking them for a walk.

Then they won’t sit contentedly while you visit the restroom, and after a few impatient seconds start to bark; ear shattering barks that echo off the shower walls. You hide your eyes with your hands and turn away, because that always seems to quiet them down for a time, they need to see your eyes and sense you are getting aggravated. Quiet for a second, but don’t say good dog, because that starts them up again.

You stand up, head for the garage where the leashes are kept. You may stop for a moment to drop off your handbag, and just grab your license and a key.

Both of them are now racing back and forth, back and forth, and Pumpkyn is dropping the stuffed frog toy on your foot, throw it mom, throw it mom. Joey is weaving side to side trying to hang on to the urine he’s been holding in all day. If Punkita has to go, and no one’s around to let her out, she heads for the pads I’ve put on the floor of the garage. If she’s held it until I get home, she waits; politely for me to open the door to the patio, before taking care of business.

Most pet stores sell leashes that start at five foot long and they may also be retractable up to 20 or 30 feet. I’ve bought every type of leash and collar there is over the last few years. I finally figured out the best way to get the dogs to behave on leash is to use a very short leash, 12 inch, that you can special order over the internet. I put karabiner clips on the end to make them easy to take on and off, and the dogs rarely pull me, unless they are trying to get to a patch of grass to poop, or they see a bird, or they smell a dead rabbit or a fish head, or kelp, or whatever.

I’ve been a WW member now for about 6 years, and am convinced that my two daily walks with the dogs have a lot to do with my maintenance plan. Every morning at 5am my alarm goes off,

I pull on my pajamas and my flip flops, head for the garage, put on the leashes, grab a big old ratty jacket over my oversized red sweatshirt and punch the button to open the garage door. I head towards the opening as it grows tall enough for me to slip under, make them sit until I walk out first (see I do watch the Dog Whisperer).

This is the funniest thing, since I started this routine, my older dog is constantly letting me go first, like a gentleman at a doorway, everywhere. When I walk from room to room, when we are leaving the bedroom in the morning, when I go outside. He’s not following me; he’s waiting for me to go first. I haven’t figured out if he’s just being a kiss ass or if he is unsure that I’m really going out so is staying behind me to give me a nudge should I change directions or get distracted on the way. But whatever it is, he is letting me go first, for his own purposes.

We head outside and to the sidewalk. Joey pees almost immediately while Punkita waits patiently. I’ve got a couple of doggie bags in my pocket, for the big moment. It is pitch dark outside and the streetlights are still on or are sputtering in the dawn. As we pass by each house, neighbor dogs ring out a welcome or a warning bark. Most owners are just sending the dogs into the yard, not walking them like I do, so some mornings I know we are pissing the neighbors off being out there so early, but there’s not a lot I can do about it since Joey won’t pee In the yard, and Pumpkyn has too much energy so it’s necessary to wear her out a bit before I leave for the day.

On occasion we will see another dog on our early morning walk, and hopefully on leash. Sometimes they aren’t and I have a big old dog running right at me from the darkness. Sometimes the owners are listening to their iPod or talking on their phones and don’t see us approach, and their dogs pull them off balance and onto the sidewalk or street and they glare at me.

Joey stays pretty close to the sidewalk, but Punkie likes to climb up the hill to poop, which requires me to do some precarious balancing in order to hang on to Joey and pick up after he. I am unsuccessfully attempting to convince her that lower is better. We do about a mile each morning, and when we return to the house, I remove their leashes, take off my outer clothing, and get their food bowls, feed them both, and then I start my breakfast and make my lunch.

Monday through Friday after work I change up my routine. I get really bored in daylight and I’m too tired to have to hang onto excited dogs who want to protect me or play with the others we pass in the neighborhood. If I have a meeting they get a short walk around the block. If not, we get in the car and head to one of several places- some where they could be off leash if they would listen to me, and I do give them a chance every now and then to see if they will stay away from the highway, the trains, the street, the dead fish heads, or the burger someone has thrown in the bushes. You can probably imagine how well that works. Great one time, and the next time I’m scared to death because they’ve run off. I keep trying.

Other days I’ll go walk above the flower fields, or by the lagoon. Both are very pleasant agricultural areas with no residences- although there are always other dogs at the lagoon, and skateboarders, drug dealers and hookers, and married lovers above the flower fields.

When I am feeling semi inspired I will drive down to the beach and walk for some time above the bluffs. Or I’ll take them to one of several dog parks within 5 miles or so where they are fenced in and can run off leash and socialize with other dogs.

When I am really inspired I will drive all the way down to Balboa Park or Fiesta Island. Really I should say Fiesta Island first since there we have literally acres to run them, but they can also get off path and into the bay, and if someone is throwing a ball, it can take quite a while to get them back on top and heading home. Once a month or so, I will drive down to dog beach in Del mar, but normally only on the weekends. They both love to run and chase birds and other dogs, roll in the seaweed and dead fish, and smell all the funny smells. At low tide it is really beautiful and it makes me happy to see them so happy and free. There seems to be a dead fish theme here. Perhaps I should change the title?

©2010 Sharon J Corrigan

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Fixing the Garage Door

My garage door decided to be difficult. I just returned home after taking the dogs to the dog park, so they could get their ya ya's out and sleep when we get home to give me a bit of peace. It opened fine, I stopped the car part way in the garage, to unload the dogs, then saw my neighbor and their darling bulldog, so we walked down the garage alley to let the dogs say hi.  Returning to the car, I took the plants out of the back and put them on the patio.  I made sure the dogs were inside, and went back out to the car to run to Costco to fill up my tank.  I hit the remote, and ..........nothing.

I checked the sensors, they were fine.  I pulled on the cord and was able to open and close it manually, but when i hit the remote or the button on the wall, all I hear is the engine idling.  
Then i try pulling it down from outside.  I close it all the way, then can't get it open.  I try my "keypad"- a brilliant idea for anyone who has to walk a dog and doesn't want to carry keys with you.  But, and this has happened before, if the battery goes out, you better have a key hidden somewhere on the property, or you'll get stuck outside, sitting in your front yard, at 5:00am in the morning, wearing only a tee and your undies.

Even if your neighbor has a key, are you going over there at that time of the morning?  and half dressed, and not underwear you want to share with the neighborhood. The last time this happened I made sure to hide a key and a battery outside,  but couldn't remember if I put a key back outside since I returned from my trip last month.  I haven't even put the suitcase back in the garage yet.  At least it's daylight and everyone is outside.  I do have my car keys and phone.

I walk around and check my latest hiding place, and yeah!  I did remember to hide the key again.  I let myself in, the dogs are thrilled to see me, since I only closed the garage door moments ago.  I pull down the ladder from its hook on the wall, set it up under the garage opening equipment and push a button I see inside. Maybe it's a reset button.  I hit the remote again and ....nothing.

Then I remembered.  Reaching back into the homeowners file that I keep tucked into a corner of my brain, this has happened before.  I called the garage door guy, and he told me what to do over the phone. 

WD40, the homeowners friend. 

I got up back up on the ladder and sprayed that stuff all over everything the door rides on.  IT WORKED!  I fixed it. Of course, I did stick my finger in the grease and now it's stuck under two fingernails. Real nice for the social I'm attending tonight  Perhaps I should wear gloves?

Now, before i forget, I'm heading out for that can of WD40 again, and spraying all my door locks and the locks outside.  I suggest everyone do the same thing right now. It'll save you lots of frustration and wasted time. Really!

©2010 SharonJCorrigan

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Water Conservation Rev 4

Up10 minutes before the alarm, she picks up the remote from a bedside table and turns on the TV; the newscasters drone the accompaniment to her morning routine. The air is still; punctuated only by the rise in the volume that comes with every advertisement, or a few seconds of music signaling the beginning of the next ad in the break. Next move, into the kitchen to flip on the coffee maker; the filter in place ready to go from the night before.

Cracking open the patio door for the dog, she heads under an arched doorway into the master bathroom covered floor to ceiling in tile from Tecate, a Mexican town on California's southern border. Years of polish, and sand, and bare feet have softened the uneven surface and deepened the color. She reaches into the shower. Not too cold, she thinks, grabbing a fresh towel from the cabinet and tossing it onto the vintage vanity where that cool red sink, found at a swap meet, is perfectly centered.

Pulling off her sleeping tee, she starts to get into the shower, briefly considering a quick trip, bare-assed, into the garage. Keep a bucket in your bathroom and use the water to water your landscape or to flush your toilet. She had mentioned this water saving idea to her students’ yesterday afternoon. Hesitating for a moment, she decides it’s too much trouble. I will definitely start doing it tomorrow.

A few minutes later she emerges, grabbing the towel by a corner and flinging it around her dampened torso. She takes a smaller teal colored hand towel from the rattan shelf above the toilet, and wraps it around her head- leaching the last drops from her shoulder length bob.

Striding into the bedroom she pauses briefly in front of the closet- glancing at herself in the mirrored doors unselfconsciously .It's going to be a hot one today she says aloud to the news anchor. She grabs some undies and a sports bra and a second later she is ready to head out- in a skirt and a simple sleeveless knit top and shoes she can walk in.

Oops, almost forgot. She pauses for a moment, performing five “Sun Salutations” to ready her body for the physical demands of the day ahead. Grabbing her ‘to go’ mug from the kitchen counter- along with a banana, apple and a fat free yogurt, she slips into her car and hits the remote.

While she waits for the new day to appear, she grabs a pack of multi-vitamins and a protein bar from the bin between the seats and swallows the tablets with a gulp of water, tears the wrapping off the bar with her teeth, and simultaneously backs out of the garage. Pausing to change gears as the door closes, she remembers she left the dog in the yard, the back door wide open, and hits the remote button a second time.

She maneuvers out of the drivers door, leaving the engine running and the doors unlocked and runs back through the garage into the house yelling "Buddy, come" and as her little puppy rushes through the door, she taps it shut with the index finger of her right hand, spins around, and trips on the edge of the Navajo rug.

."Shit, slow down" she says, collapsing on the couch to catch her breath.

©2010 Sharon J Corrigan

Yamaha Dreams & the ER Rev 4

Walking up the stairs from the parking lot started her blood pumping, and helped bring the day ahead into focus as the doors slid open. A large poster attached to th door encouraged passersby to donate blood TODAY. Just inside the threshold was a freestanding hand sanitizer like the ones you see everywhere since the bird flu hit the news.

Dr. Kennedy approached her from the opposite end of the hall as he headed off shift. “Hi Nancy how are you?” He asked with a smile. “If I told you, you’d be shocked’ . She responded with a flirtatious shrug, reached up and touched her hair, smiled knowingly and continued down the winding hallway.

Those landscapes are calming, she thought, as she headed towards the ER. I wonder who painted them? Punching the handicapped plate with a closed fist, the staff at the desk all glanced up simultaneously as she hurried into the room.

“Number Two is prepped and ready to go” Danny said, as she stowed her bag in the bottom locker. “Anything I should know about?” She scanned the beds to see how many were filled. “No, it’s a normal night’ She walked over to the door to the waiting room, and took a quick look through the glass to find it was already over capacity.

Her mood changed in an instant, as she steeled herself to face the whining and crying of the patients bearing cuts, and scratches, and ailments that would only require rest, sleep and over-the-counter meds. It always irritated her that the others, the ones she became a nurse to help, were forced to sit and wait for their turn because of this crowd. Those were the souls who were seriously in pain or facing diagnoses that would change their lives forever.

Then she saw him. Oh my God, it’s Tom. That morning, years ago (how many? At least 10), since she left him, still asleep at the Rancho Santa Fe Inn. He had called out of the blue the night before, only two days after she moved into her new house. She was sitting in the loft watching TV when the phone rang, and he invited her to join him and some other music industry types for dinner.

She had met Tom years ago, 20 years at least- at a music trade show in Chicago when he was the sales rep for a music magazine, which he now published. They had a very romantic couple of days in the windy city- horse drawn carriage to Rush Street, White Sox game at Cominski (sp) field, and a late night club where local musicians gather after hours. With the show ast McCormack place, the population of musicians had grown dramatically over the last few days.

Nancy had talked to Tom for years on the phone and seldom gave him a second thought until she met him face to face during the show. At that time she was Ad Manager for a musical instrument manufacturer. They fell in love (or lust) instantly during Yamaha’s introduction of “midi” technology.and were inseparable for the next few days outside of working the show. He was sharing a suite with several of his co-workers, so they spent their nights in her room at the Ambassador hotel. When the show was over and they returned home they tried to keep it up, although I live in LA and he lived in northern California. We’d trade off weekends, flying up on Saturday morning and coming home late Sunday nights.

Her first dose of reality was finding out that he was also dealing drugs. Their time together became increasingly more erratic and he began being careless of who he was bringing home. One night some guy he didn’t know followed them home, and walked in, with all the “drug” scales and paraphernalia in plain sight..

Nancy was no angel either but she was always a light weight as far as drugs were concerned. It was only when she was dating someone who smoked a little that she indulged. Too young to think much about it. Just having fun.

One Saturday morning, when I was heading up to visit, our whole group had been up all night partying, and they all decided they would drive all the way to John Wayne airport at the crack of dawn, and drop me off for my flight. Road trip!

When we got there, somehow I had left the house without shoes. Nothing was open at that time of the morning, even at the airport, so we all got out and went through the trash bins and found some flip flops that actually fit. I guess I wore them all weekend since I don’t recall buying other shoes up north. At the time we all thought it was hilarious.

Tom was hosting a BBQ for friends from work, mostly musician types, and I was taking a nap. I heard the noises signalling the arrival of the first of their guests so I cleaned up and headed towards the back door, not really feeling like a party again after last night.

As I reached for the knob I saw Tom, beer in hand, standing by the BBQ with a can of lighter fluid, feeding a continuous stream of the flammable concoction into the already smoldering briquettes. She could tell by his eyes he was wired, and had a feeling this was going to be a long night.

A couple of years ago I had been at a party when “lit drinks”: were popular. These were cocktails that were various colored liqueurs layered into a tall glass off the back of a spoon, usually finished with cream and then lit with a match so they came to you flaming and you were supposed to drink them down before the flame went out. I can still picture one girl, someone I didn’t know, who panicked and ended up missing her mouth and setting her cheek and her hair on fire. Someone jumped on her and rolled her on the ground, while we waited for the paramedics. It was horrifying!

So here I am, walking into a scene where someone is playing chicken with fire, and I freaked. Tom was already pissed off at me because it was obvious I had not stayed home the night before, and was looking a little raggedy in front of his friends. “Get out, he said, under his breath, I’m through.

We've all been there. I can still remember every detail of running out of the front door, and heading down the street. I made it about a block before collapsing on a curb and launching into some serious crying.

Sitting on the street, in a suburb south of San Francisco, with no car, no money, no ID , with a plane ticket and wallet sitting inside a house she had just been asked to leave, and where had no friends..

©2010 Sharon J Corrigan

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sitting on my Feet Rev 1

It had been raining on and off all day. The dirt on the granite pathways grows darker in hue when it rains. I head towards the yoga building, passing the barren wintering grape vines.

I sit down on a low pine bench, with compartments underneath for shoes, and pull off my running shoes and tuck my socks inside. In my case, we should call them “walking on flat ground” shoes. I put my room key inside my sweatshirt along with my water bottle, making sure the spout on top is closed so I won’t come back to a wet sweat.

I walk into the room, windows on three sides, and the interior wall covered floor to ceiling with mirrors. A dense wool carpet covers the floor, and the distinctive stench of an entire day of wet feet and hair on the wool permeates the class from the moment I arrive. Great.

I grab a heavy Mexican blanket, and a couple of blocks, a strap, a yoga mat, and a neck pillow. I make my way across the room to my favorite corner, way in the back row. Soft Middle Eastern music is playing, and I lay on my back with my knees bent, eyes, closed and feel a bit of a draft as the others settle in.

The teacher arrives, and asks for assistance bringing in crystal bowls from the closet hidden behind the mirrors. Several people volunteer silently while the other 20 of us try to breathe slower, and calm our busy minds.

When she is ready to begin the class, she rings a chime and the sound reverberates throughout the room, creating soul penetrating, mournful tones in all of the bowls that surround her place at the front of the class.

I begin to itch and the small of the wet wool is becoming aggressively nauseating. The woman next to me is wearing some sort of heavy perfume, or heavily scented body lotion and my head stats to ache as my sinuses seize up. It’s too late to move, so I try to move past it.

Everyone sits up and turns so they are facing the teacher. The sound of flesh and fabric on the textured plastic mats briefly distracts me from my condition, which is worsening as the moments pass.

Downward dog, she says, and we all get into position. This is one pose I can do despite my clumsiness. I’ve never admitted it out loud until last year, but Yoga frustrates me because I can’t sit on the top of my feet- my body just won’t do that.

©2010 SharonJCorrigan

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Water Spots and Aging Rev 1

My mother's kitchen. Pulling a pie plate from the shelf, I stopped once again, disgusted at the water spots on the Pyrex. What is wrong with mom, I thought. Getting older.

I never really noticed that all the pots and pans were immaculate, and the glasses never had water spots, as a kid. I suppose that’s because it was more important to her that everything was perfect when she was younger. I guess for me, it was now easier to obsess about those things because she still had the energy to do something about it, even if her mind and body aren’t cooperating like they should.

I’m home for a quick overnight visit with my folks. I notice other signs of forgetfulness or intentional laxness in housekeeping habits. There is a wet dishrag in the bathroom sink, not hung neatly over the shower rod. Her brush is sitting on top of the counter, instead of put away neatly in the drawer. Books are piled up in the living room, not just in the den where they “belong”.

Sometimes my dad does the dishes now, even though they have a dishwasher. Maybe because they are using fewer dishes and eating smaller meals, or more meals from the microwave, or senior specials at local restaurant.

I make note of a dusty film on the top of the buffet in the dining room. She is shorter than everyone in the rest of the family, so it really is amazing that for all those years she kept that up, when she obviously had to use a step ladder to reach it.

I remember shiny aluminum mixing bowls. She must have wiped down all the glasses right out of the dishwasher, because the technology was not what it is today and I get spots all the time.

I use the bathroom, wash my hands, and note that the towels are the same ones they had when I was growing up, faded and threadbare now, but no holes. I guess a hole would be the sign it’s time to buy new towels, and transition that one to the rag pile. The sheets on the bed are really soft from literally years of washing.

I love wearing my dad’s T-shirts to bed, when I stay up there. They too are really, really soft from the years of washing.

All of their clothes fit in one medium sized closet. My mom probably has 4 or 5 pairs of shoes, my dad maybe 2. I don’t recall ever seeing him wear sandals or flip flops, even at the beach. I’m guessing she had 3 sweaters, and he had one or two jackets and a sports coat or two.

When I was young, my mother’s hairstyle was the stereotypical WWII bob with a flat crown, and a roll of hair surrounding her head. She set it every night in pin curls, and then put a pink cap on top with ruffled accents to keep them in place while she slept.

I remember my friend’s mother around the corner dressed in a very classic manner, tailored slacks or skirts, twin set, pearls, and loafers. Every day, all year.

Another neighboring mom was our city’s sexpot. Her husband worked for Coca- Cola (free sodas at block parties), she drove a powder blue T-bird with bucket seats and white leather interior. She looked like the actress Dianne Cannon (sp) with big full lips (before Botox), poufy blonde hair, and you could always see cleavage. Always. This one I’m sure drove the other ladies on the block crazy, but I never remember hearing them talk about her. They must have, their husbands would have commented!

Sometime during my childhood we remodeled the kitchen, added a half bath, enlarged a bedroom to turn it into a family room, and added a third bedroom. I’m thinking this probably happened around the time of my brother’s birth, since they had two girls who could share a room, but now with a boy, it was time to add one more separate space.

The kitchen appliances were pink. I think they were all Kenmore, from Sears. We had a double sink, a built in oven, refrigerator, and an electric cook top. There were sliding drawers under the stove where the pots were kept (bet they cost a pretty penny at that time). There was a linen closet on the far side of the fridge that held a broom, a dust mop, a vacuum and a feather duster. A shelf on top held Windex and furniture polish.

Under the sink were sponges, dishwashing liquid and Ajax, and a dish drainer. This is also where the vases were kept. The top shelf in both of the cabinets on the outside wall held my mother’s collection of water glasses from different states or tourist attractions. Melmac plates and coffee mugs filled the rest of one cabinet and in the second a few cookbooks, recipe box, and some microwave dishes. We loved those dishes- you could drop them on the floor or throw them like a Frisbee, and they didn’t chip or break

The countertops were pink and grey, a laminate of some sort, and the floors were linoleum, and looked like fake mosaic tiles. Not like real mosaic, but obviously fake mosaic. It must have been popular at that time.

On the countertop near the sink there were usually some tomatoes (in season) or lemons, and always African violets. Sometimes she’d sprout a potato, or sweet potato, and the vines would trail over the microwave.

In the fridge were the Corrigan staples: ketchup, Velveeta, hot dogs, baloney, salami, grape jelly and strawberry jam, Miracle Whip, American cheese, some carrots, some apples, some tomatoes. In the freezer were chicken pot pies, Swanson frozen dinners, tater tots, ice cream.

There was usually a meat loaf, or “corn patty cake” which was yeast dough with canned tomatoes, salami and Velveeta on top. In our neighborhood tacos were made with the pre-fib taco shells, or if the mom was really fancy, she actually fried them up herself using lots of Crisco, hamburger meat, shredded Velveeta, and in the early days, salsa was ketchup. I hate to admit it but every few years; I sneak into the store, buy a tiny little brick of Velveeta and a box of those horrible cardboard shells, and make tacos the same way. Never for company, but just for me.

Kraft Macaroni and cheese is another one of those comfort foods from my youth. And you know, I don’t buy white bread ever these days, but I still remember the taste of a grilled cheese sandwich on white bread with Velveeta cooked in butter, sitting on a plate next to a steaming bowl of Campbell’s tomato soup (the original). When I’m sick these days, I crave the comfort of that meal.

My mother had several signature dishes. She made cocktail meatballs for parties with friends, where all the ladies dressed up, and they served cocktails, and we were relegated to the back room to watch TV. These meatballs were served in a sauce of tomato, horseradish, chili sauce (Heinz, I think, the kind she used also for shrimp cocktail sauce, and chopped black olives. We loved them. The smell of the sauce filled the house, and we would always sneak in and grab as many as we could before the guests showed up, or my mother noticed what we were doing and shooed us out of the room.

Another one of the things we looked forward to each year were refrigerated pinwheel cookies, chocolate and vanilla dough rolled up, sliced and baked. I think she made them around Christmas time. I have the recipe, but they never taste as good as they did back then. I loved her meatloaf, which was lightened up with saltines, carrots and onions, with a crust of ketchup on the top. I still make it this way.

It’s funny how kids have different tastes in breakfast foods. I wonder if it is a physiological thing, allergies or sensitivities to different things.

My dreaded hated dish was eggs. Period. They disgusted me and she served them hard boiled, soft boiled or fried. I still hate them, but I now like the yolks if they are fully cooked, but the whites still gross me out. So she would try to get me to eat them because they were good for me, and it was an ongoing battle over the years. When we had a dog, I would feed the egg to it under the table. When we had no pets I would shove bits in my mouth and go into the bathroom and spit it out. When I was forced to swallow it, I would gag and feel nauseous.

SOS for me, creamed hamburger on toast. It was really yummy all buttery and the mom of my friend of across the street made it the best. I think she used Worcestershire sauce (one of the flavor enhancers’ common at the time).

©2010 Sharon J Corrigan

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Captain Nudie's Rev 2

His name was Tomas and he was so handsome
I had moved back to Los Angeles to finish up my bachelors’ degree after a 10 year break. I met him one weekend when I drove down to Encinitas to visit friends, and we went out dancing. He had a German shepherd named Buck and the two of them were inseparable.

Stubby carrots Rev 1

He screeches into the driveway, the smell of the brakes perfuming the humid air. He spots her sitting under a tree in the corner of the yard preparing the soil for the winter garden.

Rusty tools are scattered around her in every direction. Bags of soil and fertilizer trail from her pickup to the entry gate each dropped as the weight overwhelmed her small frame…close enough.

She glanced up as he moved toward her, squinting in the mid day sunlight, with smudges of dirt caked on her cheeks where she’d wiped the sweat from her brow. A small plastic footstool underneath her helped her survey the coming harvest and visualize the vegetables breaking through the earth towards the sun- every day a little taller, a little more colorful, a little more flavorful.

Amnesia blanketed her smile- it was obvious that she did not remember the failure of the garden to thrive in the past few years and the barren infertile earth the chemical plant had left behind as a souvenir.

Joy and hope lit up the shaded corner and the brilliant taste of heirloom tomatoes almost knocked him down. He knows that memories overwhelm reality when you are facing defeat. But those same memories also help you begin again despite the odds.

©2010 Sharon JCorrigan

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Drifting Rev 2

Hummmmmmmmm Hongggggggggggggggggggggggggggg In the misty night air the sound of the horn was haunting and melancholy.

That sounds like a container ship! Andy and I had been drifting with the tide, back and forth, up and down, side to side, for hours now. No wind, no power, no lights. So close to home we can almost see our apartment building, but helpless. No radio, no moon, no cell.

We’d drank at least a bottle of wine between the two of us, just on the way home from our weekend at the Isthmus and hadn’t had much to eat.

Although we finished the last of our stash hours ago I was feeling dull witted and was hovering on the edge of hysteria as I heard the deep ship’s horn blasting through the darkness. I remembered a story I’d heard over and over at my sailing club about yachts being sliced in half by container ships, even in broad daylight. Not a smart idea to play chicken with a container ship.

Every muscle in my body was tensed. The sound of the waves slapping against the bow normally so comforting, were now very simply frightening and made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. Trevor was sweating through his shirt, rings of perspiration under both arms and across his neck and back. He sat at the wheel with a blank stare, eyes twitching uncontrollably as he tried to come up with a fix that might save our asses.

The wind was coming up but all it did was toss the boat back and forth, back and forth, and the sound of the lines slapping the mast only served to heighten the terror. The jagged broken boom swung wildly back and forth, just missing my head on its last violent arc.  Sometimes being tall is dangerous.

I was attempting to get closer to where Trevor was perched at the wheel and was crawling on my hands and knees, hanging onto the rails as I headed his way, leaving a trail of scarlet from my bloody knees. Trevor, look at me! I screamed. Help me! He stared blindly straight ahead, still lost in his own thoughts still trying to figure out how we got in this mess.

We’d spend a beautiful weekend getting to know each other in Twin Harbors on his gorgeous wood sailboat ""Vin Bordeaux. He was a friend of a friend, a South African guy

To be continued

©2010 Sharon J Corrigan All rights reserved

Flight Cancelled Rev 1

They won’t hold the job for me. They told me I had to be there on Monday morning at 8am sharp, and the last flight out just got cancelled. I should never have gone out last night. Coming in late threw off my whole schedule. I would have been on the earlier flight, I should have been on the earlier flight.

Oh shit, I left my passport and my purse in the shuttle. This bloody laptop threw me off, and my cell is in my purse too, along with my ID and my ticket.

I stand outside the terminal looking desperately for the return of my stuff. I was sitting in the front seat and my purse is on the floor between the seats. Surely he’s noticed something out of place by now.

The homeland security guard strolls outside from the doors at the center of the building. Excuse me, I say as I start running towards him. He looks directly at me and then his eyes skid from right to left surveying all of the people and objects between us nervously. He’s not very old; it could be his first week on the job.

My left toe hit the seam of the sidewalk and the computer bag flew out of my hand and onto the walkway about 12 feet in front of me. He reached me in seconds, I was still catching my breath and the sobs erupted from somewhere deep inside me.

May I help you m’am he said gently?

I slowly focused on the position of my body and realized I had probably broken a leg, or an ankle at least, and I had no money, no ID, no phone, and no friends in this place.

Even years later, we still recited the story of the day we met to anyone who would listen. We never tired of the romance, the drama, the utter inevitability of our paths colliding on that day.

How will I ever go on without him?

©2010 Sharon J Corrigan

The Economy & Creativity Rev 1

Pulling the faded photo album from the bookcase, I sat in the overstuffed chair near the window and began leafing through photographs of a 30 year old me on my first European journey.

Spotting an 8x10 black and white enlargement I’d done in a borrowed darkroom after the trip, I paused to recapture the memory of that particular moment when I was one of 20 passengers in the uppermost car of an enormous Ferris wheel in Vienna during the summer of 1981.

We had found it by accident sitting on the bus, getting on and off whenever something caught our eye. The print captured images of tiny people on the ground , and faces peering out of the other cars on the wheel that were closer to the ground, each filled with at least 20 people. Wow how many cars are there on this thing? There must have been over 100 people riding at one time.

That was a long time ago, when I didn’t really worry that much about spending every penny in my accounts because I had a job to return to, and I was young and single and had very few responsibilities. No rent to pay (yet) no bills, just spending money for trips and nights out with friends.

Time to get back to the job search I thought, and put the album back on the shelf. I reached out to pick up the paper but decided to procrastinate a few more minutes by looking at the stuff for sale in the Pennysaver.

Rooms for rent, roommates wanted. I leafed through the flimsy newsprint searching for the private sale ads. There it is! I thought and scanned the columns looking first at those with bold headlines.

Work from home- the 12 letters leapt out from a right facing page, and sucked me into the ad. Captivate your neighborhood- for sale second hand three car Ferris wheel with reconditioned motor, new locks, and a fresh coat of red paint.

Wow, is this a sign? Calm down and think this through. Am I crazy? Could I do this? How many tickets would I have to sell to make the mortgage payment and pay for private school for the kids? Would I have to declare the income to unemployment or the IRS or could I get away with doing it on the side?

Will it be noisy and irritate the neighbors? Do I have to have a city business license? Will I have to report the income to the state and feds? Will my homeowners insurance cover the liability if someone gets hurt? What will I do if it breaks down? What if the neighborhood kids fool with it when I’m not home?

©2010 SharonJCorrigan

Dickhead Rev 1

My tongue feels swollen, my sinuses are dry and my eyes itch. The heater rotates on and off on and off as the wind blows through the cracks in the walls. How can I get out of here?

The smell of the outhouse is almost overwhelming. The sounds of the party in the clearing ring out festively but the salty tears just won’t stop. I’m sure I look like a raccoon now with mascara running down my cheeks. That bastard set me up! And a wave of nausea broke through and caused horrible dry heaving hacking cough to erupt from my soul. How can I get out of here?

The thought would not quiet itself, would not leave me in peace, would not allow me to get up and walk down the pathway to my car without giving a damn if anyone saw me. The bastard set me up! How will I ever get out of here?

My limbs appeared to have frozen and the strength ran out of me and spilled over the threshold of the doorway.

It’s too hot in here.

©2010 Sharon J Corrigan

Cesar Chavez Blvd Rev 3

Electric wheel humming I cup my hands around the wet clay and focus on the form of the pot I am creating. All of my spare time is spent in the ceramics room, before and after classes and in between. It is fall 1968 and this is my first semester at a community college. I am majoring in art with a minor in sociology. The buildings on campus look like the projects that surround it in East LA. One story, bland, undistinguished.

Sorry to be so politically incorrect, but to be authentic, I am recounting the way it was, in my world, at that time. I was brought up in a middle class neighborhood that was pretty white. In 8th Grade they bussed in Japanese kids from a neighboring town, and there was one, yes one, African American in my high school, which was about half and half White and Hispanic. East LA JC was my first experience as a minority- it was 75% Chicano, 11% black, 9% oriental, and I was one of the others.

The art department and the art students were my world. We spent our days together and a lot of our nights. I was trying new things and meeting new people, completely out of the quiet conservative childhood my parents had created for me. Girl Scouts, Church Camp, YMCA clubs. And feeling like I was comfortable in my own skin and accepted by a new tribe - artists, musicians, writers, photographers. My instructors were all men (in my memory) and all handsome with long hair and mustaches. The guys I hung out with were very creative and charismatic, and very attractive.

I was skinny and young and a few moments past 18. I was finally breaking through my shyness and insecurity, and feeling like a part of something greater. I could sit in the art department just talking to people for hours, or at the wheel, or in a studio lost in my own projects I was giddy sometimes, and scared to death the next moment.

Campus riots and police presence was a common occurrence, but I felt alive, I knew people who went to jail for what they believed, and others who intimidated me by following me to my car. Odd to describe comfort and contentment in the same breath as memories of lines of uniformed officers of the law with billy clubs in front of campus. I guess it was because I was forced by the times to live in the moment.

Traveling gives me that same sort of confidence in my own ability to handle whatever comes my way. Being on the alert somehow makes me feel content. After an initial bout of fear and vulnerability, I seem to become stronger and more assertive. I know how to walk with puirpose, who to look right in the eye, how to remain aware of what is going on around me, even as I explore a new city. I recognize the edge of the “good part” of town, when I’m entering into an area that might not be safe. I have no embarrassment about asking for help from total strangers, and taking refuge in a small shop if I need a moment to regroup.

The traveler’s friend is the small neighborhood café, with outdoor tables, and a cappuccino or a glass of wine, depending on the time of day. Small cafes seem to be owner operated, and helpfulness and kindness to strangers is part of what allows them to keep their doors open. It’s hard work, running a café. I’ve helped out in one, and worked behind the counter in an ice cream shop. Always cleaning, always something sticky on some part of your body. Customers you love customers you hate. The most obnoxious are either the biggest tippers or the stingiest so you always have to smile and be polite. I’ve sat in small cafes in many countries around the world, and at home.

This was before the days of Starbucks, and other chain coffee retailers. Good coffee was assumed, and simple, lovingly prepared food was part of the deal. Sharing these gifts was the reason most opened their doors, not profit. Paying the bills, enjoying the company of friends and visitors was a lifestyle choice, not an investment decision.

I have a friend, an American friend, an ex-pat who has been living below the equator for over 30 years. After moving to this new country, she made her living as a nanny/housekeeper, running boarding houses in property owned by friends and lovers, and a café gallery in a trendy part of town.

©2010 Sharon J Corrigan

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Beating the Odds: Reality

It was my third visit this year alone. In May, it was cancer but we got it all. In August, at the end of my quarterly checkup, Dr. Nico said quietly there’s a funny area we need to take a look at-do a biopsy. In September the biopsy was done and two weeks later we still had no result. I left several messages for and he finally returned my call.

This is year 3 since my initial diagnosis but it keeps coming back. The first two years I had several clean quarterly checkups and only had to have surgery once a year, so I was confident that if I keep on top of it we can continue to catch it early, and I can sleep at night. After the first surgery I was really nauseous and felt like I was going to die for several days. By year two, I had discussed it with my doctor and the anesthesiologist and they now gave me anti nausea meds with made all the difference in the world during the days following the surgery.

Each time I prepared for an uncomfortable week in bed so I try to schedule mid week so I don’t lose much time at work. This time Dr. Nick said biopsy instead of surgery. This was a surprise. I had no symptoms at all, no warning. The tumors appear in my bladder and they have to put me out because it would be too painful to do under local anesthetic. The procedure involves taking the forceps and actually plucking the tissue from inside my bladder. He told me depending on what happens I might have to have a catheter in for a few days, but no way to tell until I’m out and he’s done with his job.

I discovered that the recovery from a biopsy is even more uncomfortable than surgery. Thank goodness for anti-nausea meds and Vicodin. I vaguely remember someone telling me “don’t pull the string” when I was waking up in the recovery room, but didn’t remember that until much later.

The greatest stress for me, as the patient, is that hospital policies will not allow me to drive or take public transportation home. I have to arrange for a friend or acquaintance to pick me up. On the morning of the procedure, I usually walk to the Coaster station near my home and take it downtown,then hop on the trolley to the closest station, and take a bus up the hill to the San Diego medical center. I’m not in pain until afterwards so it's just like any other day for me but with a bit more anxiety .

The procedure takes place but I wake up in recovery feeling a little sketchy but manage to pee so after calling my ride to pick me up. They wheel me down to the pharmacy and drop me off to pick up my meds. My friend shows up to give me a ride home, and she sees me standing at the pharmacy counter propping myself up with my elbows as I try to get someone to fill the RX before I get sick, and so that I am not taking up my friends entire Day. She has me sit down and takes my place in line, and when they finally call my name I switch places and she goes out to get the car.

I feel very fortunate that so far I haven't had to impose on anyone twice. The rest of the week flies by and I watch at least 20 episodes of the “Dog Whisperer on my DVR so I have been productive during this respite from work but don't think my boss will pay me for this knowledge. I am confident, however, that my dogs will thank me when I am transformed magically into a calm assertive leader.

Sometime during day 3 I take a look at the discharge instructions and note that I have an appointment for next week for ”stent removal”! Now that I’m thinking about it, I have felt much more uncomfortable this time, not in pain, just uncomfortable.

My only knowledge of stents was anecdotal, from my dad's multiple heart attacks. In my mind it was a grommet sort of thing, very similar to the tool that young guys use to stretch giant Ubangi holes in their earlobes. I am really perplexed and, for the life of me, can't figure out why I would have a stent. What the hell happened while I was out? Why didn't anyone mention it before they released me?

After several phone calls, I finally got through to my doctor who explained that the stent was to hold open the tube from my bladder to my kidneys so that I could pee, as this becomes inflamed during the surgery. He said they just leave it in a few days to be sure it doesn’t close up and cause other problems.

I went in to the office the following week, and checked in. Almost immediately a nurse came into the waiting room and escorted me to a room near the entry door. She told me it wasn’t necessary to get undressed, just to pull down my pants and lean back. She reached up and drew the curtain around us, I dropped my pants and leaned backwards over the tissue covered bed and in one quick movement she yanked the string and it came out.

Do you want to see it she said, and of course I said yes. It appeared to be a thin plastic tube about 18 inches long which apparently was coiled up inside of my bladder, and creeping through all of my internal bits and pieces leading to the outside world. You are kidding I said, no wonder I was so uncomfortable, and felt like I had put a tampon in the wrong way. Ouch. I was out of there in less than 5 minutes and back to work. Still no biopsy results.

When Dr. Nick returned my call, after several days, he told me that the lab technicians here in San Diego were not in agreement about the results of the biopsy, and that he had disagreed with both of them so almost 2 weeks ago they had shipped it to a hospital in Georgia where they specialize in such things. They usually got 2 to 3 day turnaround but no one had followed up, until I called. He told me that the controversy was over whether or not the cancer was invasive, but he hadn’t seen anything about my case that would warrant the use of that word. He explained that the biopsy technique could skew the results so the only way to prove it was a do over. So we booked it for October, after my birthday.

In October, I did my normal morning transit routine, and arrived at the hospital early. I couldn’t drink anything two hours prior to check in and they had no beds so I sat in the urology waiting room till check in time. Once I had a bed in the pre-op, and had changed out of my clothes and talked to every nurse on duty that day about one thing or another , my doctor stopped in to say hi, and then they turned on the drip, wheeled me down the hall, transferred me onto the operating table and the next thing I knew I was in recovery, a few hours later.

They called my high school friend who lived nearby and she headed my way. I managed to pee right before she called from the parking lot, so we just had to wait a moment for the girl with the wheel chair to escort me out to the curb. I was feeling OK right then although sitting was even more uncomfortable this time, and at least I figured out that once again the stent had become a part of my body for the next week at least.

I paid my neighbor to give the dogs a walk around the block that evening, and my friend Dana brought me turkey noodle soup and mashed potatoes from the café. What a yummy combo! And a piece of pie! After eating something I took a vicodin and my antibiotic and went to sleep. This time my surgery was on a Wednesday, and by Friday I had confirmation from Dr. Nick that I was once again cancer free. I’m still trying to determine however if the surgery and the two biopsies and the doctors appointments, tests, and time off work was worth it. I guess if we didn’t take care of it none of the rest would matter.

I ordered a margarita pizza with garlic basil oil for dinner delivered. I even had a glass of wine, sent out an email to all my friends saying yeah! No cancer and had tons of attaboys in my inbox by early evening. For a couple of days I had noticed the stent string seemed pretty long on the outside of my body, so I had been very careful not to touch it, to sit carefully and do everything I could to forget it was there.

The pizza arrived and I ate it with delight, adding a salad to the fixins. I was watching shows I had taped on TV in the living room on the couch, when I felt the need to visit the ladies again, but it was like my youngest dog who held it until she couldn’t any longer, then let the flood come uncontrolled. Oh shit.

I vaguely remembered something in the discharge instructions saying if you couldn’t control this, you need to call your doctor immediately, so I did and they told me to come into the emergency room immediately. The emergency room at the San Diego Medical Center 35 miles away, not the closest emergency room. And they instructed me not to drive again.

Friday night 7pm who can I disturb for this stupid visit. I was not in pain, and figured out that the stent was probably just slipping out so it was hopefully time to remove it. Since I knew it takes just a second to do that, at least I shouldn’t be sitting around very long. I called my turkey soup friend, who is also the wife of a boyfriend from my 20s. She told me she’d be right there, and a few minutes later her husband showed up.

My friend is 60 something, and I am 59- we dated when I first moved to the area in the early 70s – almost 40 years ago. I knew his sister who is still around, his mother, who passed away years ago, and his younger brother who had died tragically. We had maintained yearly contact usually during the holidays, just a card, or a quick phone call. When I moved back to the states from overseas, I ended up living in San Diego just a few months before his wedding day- so he invited me to come, and his wife has allowed me to be part of their extended family.

I offered to let my friend drive my car so that if I leaked, it was my upholstery that would be disgusting. Since I’ve been weight watchers for years, of course my water intake is at least 3 times that of a normal human being, so by the time we headed for the hospital my flood had trickled to a drip, and the three beach towels I had folded up were more than adequate.

We drove down in silence with my thanks becoming repetitious and a bit irritatin, even to me.. He dropped me off in front and I went to check in while he parked the car.I know that he is very squeamish so I was actually surprised he volunteered to take me, since the swine flu epidemic was all over the news and hospital emergency rooms were usually full of people that were healthy.,..not.

I told them I had been instructed to come down immediately, and that the urologist on duty had already been consulted. They put a hospital bracelet on my wrist and told me to take a seat . A few minutes later my friend came into the room and sat down. We sat there for a few minutes, and he was very figity and finally asked if it would be OK if he sat in the car, and I said of course and laughed a little telling him I was surprised he even walked in the front door. He repeated his question to make sure I was OK with him sitting in the lot, and I encouraged him to do so, and that I would call him when it was all over.

A half hour later he brought me a coffee and a “reader” magazine then went back to the car. An hour later I was still sitting there and hadn’t been called. An hour and a half later I saw a nurse who took my temperature and blood pressure then sent me back out. During this preliminary exercise I told her, I thought we could just pull the stent and I’d be on my way, but she had to wait for doctor’s orders.

Two and a half hours later I was called in, this time with both the nurse from earlier and the doctor on duty, who was also a surgeon. I repeated my suggestion to pull the stent, and he agreed but first had to check with the urologist on call. I went back into the waiting room for the second time.

As I was walking back in, my friend came in to check on me. Before he could scoot out again, they called me back in, so I told him it should be just a few minutes now.

The doctor asked if I was comfortable having it removed in the triage area or if I needed a room. I told him we could do it in the waiting room if that was all that was available, so I pulled off my baggy pants behind the circular curtained area, he returned with the nurse, and two seconds later I was pulling my pants back on and heading for the parking lot.

On the way home I thanked my generous friend repeatedly for being there for me and my “pee pee” problem, particularly on a Friday evening. He pulled over, stopped the car and looked at me and said “You’d do the same for me” and smiled, and I responded “I would, you know that.”

And we continued back to my house, where he made sure I was settled before heading home to his lovely wife. I am blessed to have so many good friends.

copyright 2010 SharonJCorrigan

Boat Boy Rev 2

Waking from a dreamless sleep, consciousness thrust its way into her body, rudely interrupting her plan to sleep in. It’s 3am and the house is mostly dark, except for ghostly shapes rising from appliances and night lights, and the reflections of a street lamp on the skylights.

“I’m here he said, and although there was no sound, it was if he was sitting on the bed next to her. I know, I replied, not surprised really- I wonder why.

Am I dreaming? No, there was no sense of a body in the room only the scent and a slight prickling sensation that confirmed that on some level, he was here with her. It was almost like a ceiling fan was turned on, a breeze from some long forgotten wind. It wasn’t logical but it was real. She knew his body was at least 50 miles from where she slept- on Chuck’s boat. A moment later he was gone.

We’re going out on a boat from Marina Del Rey on Saturday, wanna come? Cindy chattered on about the plans she had made and encouraged me to tag along. Great crowd, lots of money, good food, and wine, champagne even. Not a sailboat, a stinkpot, a motor yacht. This was a social day, not a racing day.

I left the house at 9 and headed up the coast to the marina. Hit a little bit of traffic, and got off near Venice, winding my way past design studios, sushi bars, and real estate offices, commercial buildings and wood framed restaurants. For all the money around here, it’s not very pretty, I thought to myself, but perhaps it’s just here on the main drag.

I parked the car and headed towards the dock where I could see that the party had already begun. At least 15 people milled around the boat, each with a glass in hand, dressed for cocktails, but with boat friendly shoes. My kind of crowd, fun but not stupid. Boats on the water deserve respect, and when you’re heading out into the ocean that is even more critical.

Finally time to cast off, and as we motored into the main channel on a beautiful sunny day, the wind did us a favor- kicking up negative ions that injected life and laughter into the morning. My favorite place on any boat is up at the very front on the bow sprit. There is nothing I love more than sitting there on a sunny day with the wind blowing directly in my face, my hair thrown about like spun sugar in a cotton candy machine. It’s so invigorating, makes me feel so positive and alive and cool- really, really cool and blessed to have the kind of life where I get invited to do this.

I can take the intensity for about a half hour, and then have to take a break, to refill my glass, to attempt to calm my hair, to be social. I’m not much for small talk, get bored easily, and polite conversation never holds my interest for long, even listening to an attractive man, although I give those moments a little more attention, at least the first time.

Hey Sarah, where have you been? Cindy yelled. The group she was sitting with all turned their heads in my direction and smiled: Three men and a woman I didn’t know. Why does she look familiar?

The oldest guy, Ted, was a handsome spunk, dressed casually but expensively. I’d seen him at other club events. The man next to him, Andrew, was 20 something, spiked thick blonde hair, good teeth, white polo shirt, board shorts (over Speedos I bet); the third guy was not very tall, with brown skin, a gorgeous smile, laughing eyes, hot body- hmmm, Cindy introduced him as Miguel. He looked at me lazily. Hello, he said slowly. Hi, my voice squeaking just a little, and as a flush appeared, and my mind went blank I quickly broke eye contact and focused on Cindy.

Looks like you’re starting the day right! Surrounded by all these handsome men, I laughed, and they all smiled back at me. Nice. Cindy said, this is Debbie, and I remembered where we had met- at my ex’s apartment late one night. We both figured it out at the same time, and our expressions read like a mirror- from smile to snarl and back to smile. How are you, she said. Lovely I responded.

Debbie was sitting right next to Miguel, and it was obvious she was interested, she was learning in his direction, her breasts sending out a signal that was loud and uncensored. Miguel jumped up and grabbed my glass- you need a refill, he said, allow me. I looked up, directly into the sun, and all I could see was his smile, I shielded my eyes and gave him a flirtatious smile. How thoughtful I said, my voice trailing to a whisper, eyes lowered, and the flush again.

As he walked towards the bridge, my eyes followed him. In an effort to rejoin the group, I tried to focus on the conversation in progress. Debbie was openly unhappy at the sparks flying between Miguel and I, but Cindychattered on, apparently missing the whole thing.

So Andrew, why do you look familiar? I said. I’m Sammy’s son, he said, remember me? Oh my God, I thought, Sam Kieran’s boy, I perched on the rail and balanced myself with one foot on deck and one on the seat and quickly regained my composure.

To be continued.

©2010 Sharon J Corrigan All rights reserved.

The Perfect Job Rev 1

Un-frigging-believable. Somehow I have manifested that perfect job- dreamed of decades ago.
They were going to pay me to do research on their client’s interests and I am to escort same clients on their voyages around the world, and almost the best part my dogs are invited too!

I would be staying at five star hotels, and even in the middle of the most remote places on earth, I will be safe, well fed, and well dressed with interesting companions and playthings, fascinating conversations, and a lot of masculine adulation, but not from the clients I am escorting, they are all much older women who love to travel, have the time and the money, but are too scared to go on their own,.

They wake up late, and go to bed early. They treat me with respect, and give me unlimited spending money. They pay for the freight to ship my unique treasure home. They love hearing stories about my adventures after dark, and are especially appreciative when I arrive back at the hotel, or the villa, or the estate after they have had their breakfast with eye makeup smudged, odd creases in my clothing and a vaguely sweaty smell clinging to my skin.

Today we leave this beautiful little town in the South of France where movie stars use to hang in the 60's. It’s a bit shabbier now but there are still touches of glamour around the edges, and the taste of old money still lingers in the air.

My current charge is named Kaz, short for Karen, and she is from New Zealand. She has blonde hair that reflects the trauma of years of abuse. But by high end stylists, so it's still shiny but it's starting to look like a cap instead of a good haircut

She dresses in animal print fabrics with the touch of khaki, sort of a safari look. She wears a heavy gold and diamond leopard necklace, over sized and a little bit garish, but obviously solid and real. Her late husband owned a top restaurant for 3 decades in the city and they were major philanthropists known throughout that part of the world.

©Sharon J Corrigan 2010

Persimmons in Sapporo Rev 1

The bellman opened the door to the room in the ryokan and carried her bag into a closet hidden behind the paneled walls, and silently left the room. In the corner a little octagonal area surrounded by windows beckoned her into the cushions peeking out of the low wooden table with a tea setting perfectly centered on the round top.

She poured herself a cup of tea and gazed out the window to the snow covered persimmon trees that lined the property beyond the hot springs where the steam from the water headed towards the heavens through the dense growth- mirroring the steam from the pot in front of her.

She heard the door click behind her as a maid slipped silently out- her presence unnoticed by a woman who was lost in her thoughts and the spectacular view from her room.

She saw that the maid had somehow managed to pull out her futon mattress and prepared it for a nap before diner. The air was very still and there was a faint scent of the persimmon tress and incense perfuming the room.

She stood up and undressed slowing grabbing the cotton yukata and slippers from the low shelf near the futon. She wrapped it around herself trying to remember if it was left over right or right over left. She knew that one of those was meant only for a corpse and she snapped back into the present with a start at that horrid thought.

She had arrived at the Ryokan in mid day as part of a group of tourists who boarded the bullet train that morning in Tokyo and who were to share the next 10 days in each others company.

She had wandered around Tokyo for the first two nights on her own- unable to sleep after the long flight, and although she had showered at least 4 times since arriving- the faint smell of cigarettes from the plane still remained.

She walked into a whiskey bar, and found it full of men- all ages and sizes- and she spotted an elderly man in the corner who had been on the same plane sitting alone with a bottle of whiskey in front of him a metal label around its neck that said “McCarthy”. No one turned around or looked at her as she approached his table. He was lost in thought with an air of sadness that filled his entire body.

©2010 Sharon J Corrigan

Pussy Willow Rev 3

It’s the first thing I see when I walk into the house,as far back as I can remember, from the moment I was tall enough to see the top of our dining room table. Maple. Matching buffet. Oval. Every night we would drop the leaves, and tuck it against the wall after dinner, to clear a path to the kitchen.

My mother loved to garden.All year long, she would pick a bloom or branch that was in season Hydrangeias, Camelias, Roses. Behind the garage, along the fence behind the trash cans, we had pussy willow plants. Whe they were starting to show signs of blooming, she would place a few stems in a tall rectangular vase, bases impaled on a metal floral frog, neatly in place, with an Asian aura.

The blooms on pussy willows are little white furry ovals spaced along a graceful brown stem. They start out as bumps , gradually grow more prominent, and then pop open revealing the furry bud hidden inside.

I remember popping the buds off the stem by grabbing it between a thumb and forefinger and pulling them up. More effort that removing fragrant thyme leaves off their stem to spice up a dish.

I used to brush the furry buds across my cheeks, just because they were soft. I wonder if everyone did this, instinctively. I have always loved the way they looked.

In the spring, we had bowls of floating gardenias; the peppery smell of the leaves contrasting with the intense, fragrant smell of the gorgeous white blooms. I would sit on the front porch and let the sharp, sweet scent surround me in the late afternoon breeze. They would last for days, floating quietly in their tranquil pool. The whole front part of the house would be perfumed- too strong at first, but gradually fading as the flowers grew limp and the edges were lined in brown.

©SharonJCorrigan 2010

Sexy is Ageless Rev 1

Thelma was excited, but she had to keep it to herself. It was the week before her 60th wedding anniversary and all the kids and their grown families were in town. It was difficult to slip out of the house without one of them wanting to tag along. Her staff was used to these odd journeys, and had learned long ago to keep their thoughts to themselves, and to never discuss what they saw in Thelma’s rooms with anyone, let alone each other.

Thelma’s husband had passed six months ago after an extended illness. During the past ten years she had taken comfort in the arms of strangers met at the bridge club, when she meets friends at lunch by the harbor, and even once or twice in a hotel bar in a neighboring town when she was able to slip out of the house unnoticed.

She worried sometimes that she would be discovered and her errand this day revolved around a man she was seeing who she had met through Craig’s list. Thelma had always been the good wife, quiet and charming and this new beau, Buddy, took her places she never imagined.

Walking into Budding Babes in metro Los Angeles near the garment district, she was a little embarrassed, hoping that no one she knew would catch her walking through the doors under the neon signs.

Her entourage settled into the dressing area which was lined with mirrors, and oddly enough, all sorts of costumes including the most extensive inventory of bondage gear she had ever seen. Her intention on this day was to take a couple of cheesecake shots in her new lingerie from Paris, to surprise him at the end of the party planned to celebrate her children’s late father and her 60 years together.

She had no intention, when she left the house tonight, of doing the kind of shots she was now seriously considering, but, what the heck, only Buddy would see them, and she could already see his face as he opened the envelope.

The kids loved Buddy- he was like the perfect uncle they never had. A real joker, outgoing and inquisitive and he was the first man that had been able to keep up with her for years. His fantasy of being dominated was easy for her to fulfill. She had ached for some sort of control over her life during her husband’s illness and the role fed that need.

Stepping onto the set in front of the camera, wearing nothing but leather and zippers- with an odd batman-like head covering part of her face, made her feel powerful. In stark contrast, she decided to hold a bible in one hand and a small Maltese puppy in the other with her arms extended beseechingly towards the camera.

She had let Jojo, her makeup man, be creative with her lips and they were covered thickly with dark black lipstick. False nails covered her chewed up fingers with vibrant red polish- and her 7” red patent leather platform shoes forced her to arch her back, pushing her captive breasts towards the lens, and giving her gluts a workout.

She wasn’t sure if she should smile for the camera- if that would be too much. Perhaps take a few shots in different poses and maybe a few costumes, and then she could choose.

Teetering back to the dressing room again, she laughed at herself thinking how silly it was to change behind the curtains in a studio like this.

Stripping down again, she chose a “Fredericks of Hollywood” lace gown- fire engine red- with a black g-string and bra peeking through the gaps in the lace. She considered the accessories available and selected an oversized machete with a highly polished enameled handle.

Perhaps this could be a shot holding the knife with both hands behind her with her upper torso twisted to face the camera………

.©2010 Sharon J Corrigan

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Fast Food Rev 2

I was so excited. I had met Scott last weekend at a friend’s party and he was so cute. And he called.

I’m not sure what we were going to do except grab a bite but a least I knew we weren’t just heading for the local watering hole to spend hours drinking and breathing second hand smoke, or maybe its 3rd hand smoke since the law requires them to step outside- and the smell is from their clothing. God and to think I smoked for 30 years.

The doorbell rang and as I ran to answer it I stopped for a moment to look in the mirror and smile at myself to see what he will see. I’d had a glass of champagne an hour ago to try to settle down and it seemed to make it worse. I opened the door and there he was. He is so gorgeous.

All of us had been trying to get his attention at the party and I won the prize. At least I was sober enough to just give him my number and not just hop into bed with him. See mom was right. Guys want only what they can’t have.

I grabbed my jacket and we headed down the stairs from my apartment to his motorcycle. Perfect- now my hair will look awful because of the helmet so I’ll have to try to get to the restroom before he has a chance to check me out before we get into the restaurant.

I managed to do that and am happy with the repair job in no time heading back out to join him, at a table near the kitchen.

I told them we’d take whatever table was open he said. Silently I sat down, disappointed and disheartened because he was sitting against the wall leaving me to dodge the swinging kitchen doors as the wait staff came and went.

I’ve ordered for us he noted and I nodded and smiled wondering what in the world he ordered since he barely knew me. The waitress walked up to the table, set the drinks down, and thanked him by name when he left a big tip on her tray. She smiled at him intimately as if they shared a secret.

The drinks were in a tall glass and seemed to be various vibrant colored liqueurs layered carefully and finished off with a flame that was quickly extinguished. I had just turned 21 and he was 28, an experienced guy with an air of confidence.

I took the first sip and almost gagged at its syrupy sweetness but struggled to maintain my composure as I choked it down. The waitress returned and by now I knew her name was Bamby.

The tray held two apple martinis. I had heard of them but since my drinking credentials were limited to the occasional over indulgence “trying to impress a boy”, or trying to push past my shyness, I had yet to do a comprehensive tasting of the world of hard liquor.

Scott encouraged me to take a sip and he finished his drink off in one movement.

My hands were shaking as I lifted the delicate martini glass by the stem and brought it towards my mouth. The sticky, sweet, antiseptic smelling liquid slopped over the rim and dripped onto the table and began running down my arm. I took a small sip and my right arm and my throat joined forces and took on a life of their own as they conspired to empty the entire contents of the glass in one movement mirroring what Scott had done.

I briefly paused and thought, what am I doing? but the alcohol entering my system overwhelmed any thought of a coherent answer. Feeling very wobbly, I watched the waitress arrive with our salads and Ithought I heard him tell Bamby to pack up the dinners to go.

That’s odd. Struggling to pick up the fork and get something into my stomach before I made a fool of myself.  I hoped he wouldn’t notice that I was already intoxicated and in fact was very close to getting sick.

It seemed like only seconds later when Bamby came back with the “to go" containers and Scott was helping her to stand up and head out the door... With his hand under her left elbow he guided her towards the parking lot.

She realized her purse and her sweater were still at the table and when she finally got his attention, he sat her down on the bench outside the door while he went in to retrieve them, after giving the valet his ticket and their dinner containers.

The valet opened the passenger door and helped her into the car. Her head was spinning and she was still not really sure if she was going to get sick. She leaned back, closed her eyes and tried to will herself back to sobriety and to the vivaciousness she had started the evening with.

Scott slipped unsteadily into the driver’s seat, slipping the valet a bill "thanks man" he said. He paused at the driveway exit then lurched into a left turn onto the highway headed north.

I'm not really sure what happened over the next few minutes. The next thing I knew we were pulling into my driveway, he was taking her keys and their dinners out of the car. She could see him going into the kitchen in her apartment to get silverware and a napkin and then sitting down at the dining table to eat his meal.

Is he going to leave me out here? She thought and fell asleep. Moments later she was abruptly awakened when the car door opened and he pulled her up and out of the car and towards the apartment. She pulled away from him and hunched over the lawn, finally releasing the liquor she should never have touched, must less drank. He dropped her arm and continued into the apartment looking at her with disgust.

I walked unsteadily into the hall and went directly into the bathroom and locked the door. What the hell happened, she glanced in the mirror and was glad to see she didn’t look as bad as she felt and tried to figure out how she was going to get him out of the house so she could go to sleep in peace. She decided to take her time and carefully washed the makeup off her face and brushed her hair. She straightened her top and ran a toothbrush over her teeth.

She heard him in the other room turning on her stereo and she was grateful she was in her own home instead of across town in his apartment in a strange neighborhood. Smiling again to herself into the mirror she walked out and down the hall where she saw him laying on her couch, just finishing up her dinner.

It’s time to go I said with conviction. Where? To your room he smiled at her confidently. You’ve got to be kidding, get out of here.

Hey- I bought you dinner you owe me, (his idea of sweet talk apparently) he said abruptly, his voice lowered.

Now! Get the hell out! She said shrilly and as he stepped through eh front door, she threw his car keys after him onto the porch, slammed the door and turned the dead bolt.

I heard him swearing as he bumped his head on the porch railing bending down to retrieve his keys off the ground. As the crunching sound of the car reversing over the gravel at the side of her driveway rang out in the early evening air, she hoped he didn’t take out a sprinkler.

She heard the tea kettle whistle behind her and realized he had turned it on, and she went into the kitchen and made herself a cup of tea to relax her. She sat down at the dining table and ate the last bits of the 2 dinners he had devoured mostly vegetable s and a little bit of meat.

She wiped her mouth with a dishtowel, picked up the containers and took them outside to the trash, tossing the dishtowel on the washer on the way out the door.

I heard the door close behind me and with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach realized I  might have automatically locked it by pushing down the button as I walked out. Oh shit she said aloud. This is definitely not my night.

©2010 SharonJCorrigan