Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Where were you when J.F.K. was shot?
In school wondering who he was and why all the kids around me were crying.

Where were you when Nixon died?
Is he dead?

L.B.J. ?
Is he dead too?

Uh, I have no clue but my aunt gave me a book about Mrs. Reagan once for Christmas.

Gerald Ford?
Here in this chair considering what to post to blogger.

Presidential assassination attempts?

Of assassination attempts I remember very little. A vague memory of Jodi Foster being stalked by someone and then was it that same someone, Mark Shepard? or Mark Chapman? perhaps who tried killing off one of the presidents, I'd have to look that one up.
MSNBC is showing an interview with Gerald Ford on his assassination attempts by Squeaky Fromme and Sara Jane Moore. I remember the Manson family but have no clue who Sara Jane Moore is; nor when either attempt happened.
I remember hearing that James Brady (a senator? Arkansas? Alabama?) got shot and paralyzed and his work for gun control afterward but no clue as to when or where or why or who.

I seem to have a good memory for programs I see on the history channel and for historical bits explained to me by my husband in conversation. I think I will have to seek out more info on these events that I lived through but have forgotten. An easy thing to do these days with any proficiency in skating the net.

sapphoq on life

Saturday, December 23, 2006


My Aunt Aggie always made lasagna for any holiday, along with tons of other food. She always put mozzarella on top and baked it until it had melted into a golden pale brown.

The dining room was very long and L-shaped into her living room. Aunt Aggie and Uncle Tony had a "blonde" dining room table set, and a buffet along the wall. There was plenty of room to walk around, unlike many dining rooms which do not allow for enough space between the chairs and the walls.

One door led out into the kitchen. The everyday kitchen table was considered to be "the childrens' table," the providence of cousins. When I was young, I wanted nothing to do with that scene. Adults were far more fascinating. My dad let me sit next to him in the dining room. I was polite and well-behaved. Thanks to his tutoring, I knew how to eat properly and was willing to taste all new foods twice. I sat with the adults and absorbed hints of their fascinating world.

I moved to the childrens' table as a pre-teen. By that time, I was old enough to appreciate the privacy of our own world. The move was aided by the presence of my cousins Billy and Judy who had moved to Jersey from down South. The adults let us be, confident that the older kids would help the younger ones.

The other neat thing about Aunt Aggie and Uncle Tony's is that they would not insist that I be social. I read through their magazines and some of their books, studied their four huge fishtanks, and watched teevee. One year, they gave me "Black Beauty" but I was far more interested in the spread about "The Boys in the Band" that was in their Life magazine.

"I thought she was reading 'Black Beauty' and here she is reading a magazine," my Aunt Aggie said. She never looked to see exactly what I was reading and I suppose that was just as well.

Aunt Aggie and Uncle Tony also had a pool, which was closed during the wintertime naturally. They did have a redwood fence around their backyard. I remember their backyard even in the winter. The living room downstairs [there seemed to be the one upstairs which ran into the dining room; and one downstairs] had sliding doors which led to a cement deck and then to shrubbery and the pool.

One time around Christmas time, my Uncle Tony took my dad and I to the local bowling alley. Uncle Tony was quite the bowler. He had the shoes and bowled in a league. I remember eating there at the bowling alley and someone ordered the roasted duck. The duck came, stomach side up on the platter, with two sinewy ropes attaching his bill to the rest of him. Dark brown he was, and swimming in a puddle of grease. Dad said, "See the grease, it wasn't cooked correctly." I gave the duck the proverbial two-bites test and promptly put it into the category of foods I didn't like. This proved to still be true years later when I tasted a baked duck at a restaurant and I found even though the restaurant duck wasn't swimming in grease, it didn't taste any better than the first duck with the bill still attached.

sapphoq on life

Friday, December 22, 2006


I was raised a roman catholic. In second grade, I was placed in a religion class in order to prepare for my first un-holy communion. I absorbed the lessons as well as anyone else. I even remembered what I was supposed to say to the priest during my first confession.

Into the confessional I went:

Bless me father, for I have sinned and this is my first confession. My sins are:

oh crap, no one told me what sins. I grabbed at the first thing that came to my frozen brain. I took a breath and continued,

robbing a river bank---

Are you lieing to father?
Yes father.

He let me off with a couple of prayers and that was that.
I guess I was absent the day the class learned what sins were.

sapphoq on life

Thursday, December 14, 2006

HOLIDAZE 12/14/06

Around Christmas time, my dad would always gather up what he could to give to the local orphanage. He also supported Boystown U.S.A. Maybe it was that he grew up during the Depression I don't really know. During the Depression, my dad's family moved to a farm in central Jersey. They were pretty poor then and had a sweet potato plant growing on the mantel-- that sweet potato plant was the only houseplant. To this day, Dad detests overalls. It was cuz of the Depression I guess. In any case, I don't wear overalls around him out of respect for whatever they remind him of.

My parents were nominally Roman Catholics. When he could, my dad took me to Midnight Mass. His repertoire of songs that he was given to burst into at any time also included a vast array of Christmas and winter tunes. I began the process of leaving the Roman Catholic Church when I was a teen. Dad accepted that but he didn't necessarily approve.

Dad had a long-term relationship with one woman who became his common-law wife. I remember visiting her sister's family. Her sister had a husband and two boys just a couple of years younger than I was. We treated each other as cousins and had many adventures in the woods surrounding the school playground up the street from where they lived. Glenn and Ricky were pretty cool boys with blondish hair. We also played touch football in a nearby park. Being Jewish, they didn't celebrate Christmas. They celebrated Chanukah.

Dad's second wife ["common-law"] was a very beautiful woman. After more than ten years together, she moved to Chicago where she got work as a model. She took her cat Tuffy with her. When she left my dad, he was heartbroken. He could not talk about it. He told me that she was in a sanitarium having a rest. I asked him, "Where's Tuffy?" He hesitated before telling me that Tuffy went with her to the sanitarium. During that hesitation, I realized that he was lying to me but I let it go. We spent a winter of Sundays watching football-- including O.J. Simpson. At Christmastime that year, he dragged himself [and me] to the round of relatives but then we went right back to Sunday afternoon football. I think the Dolphins won the Series-- or whatever it is that football teams fight for-- that year. Finally, after football was over he told me he had lied to me, that she had left him. "I know," I said. I told him I didn't think any sanitarium would allow a cat to come too.

Dad's third wife [current] is also Jewish. When they got married, she had to promise to raise any resulting kids as Roman Catholic. She wanted kids but my dad didn't because he thought he was "too old." She finally told him that he wasn't getting any younger. My half-sister from that union was raised Roman Catholic but was also educated in Jewish matters. She managed to navigate her dual-faith household fairly well and never exhibited any of the confusion that some kids in her identical situation talk about. Every year the Christmas tree goes up in the living room and the Chanukah candles also are blessed and lit.

sapphoq on life

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

JIM AND ANN 12/13/06

I had these two drinking buddies named Jim and Ann. I don't remember where I met them. In spite of the fact that we were all drunks, they did care. One time when I came down with mono, they came over with a cot for me to use to sleep on. I had just moved and there was no furniture. Prior to coming down with mono, the dog and I were sleeping on the front porch. It was warmish outside yet. The front porch was rather convenient too I must admit. After a night of drunken revelry, I would just sorta stumble in and pass out. Later on, not wishing me and the dog to be alone, Jim and Ann brought me a pregnant cat. The cat wound up having six kittens so the dog and I definately had plenty of company.

sapphoq on life

Monday, December 11, 2006


As I sail my lovely boat,
across the ocean I will float.
As the waves swish high and low,
we will have a storm I know.

The thunder crashes
and the lightening flashes.
As I sail toward shore
it begins to pour.

The trees sway.
What a terrible day!

As it pours
I close the door
and think about
the shore no more.

All of the great heros and heras are dead. A fundamentalist acquaintance mulls over the lack of Christmas concerts in the schools. By the year 2020, Islam will be the most popular religion, I tell her. Do they celebrate Christmas? What will we do then? My questions fly over her brain into the atmosphere lost in time which is not time and space not space. Both Cranberry Lake and the Great Sacandaga involved flooding without first removing some trees. Their bloated husks remain a blight upon clear navigation. I weep for Sam Stratton, the last great democratic hawk. Limpets-- accountants and politicians all. Truth and lies, both difficult to bear. The snooty man at the bookstore complains about his Earl Grey tea. After he absconds with his prize, I give the clerk an extra dollar for putting up with him. We have put up with far too much. Those who applaud H.M.O.s after all will not be ascending to the heaven which I deny the existence of. What then? Alas I retreat back into corners with the richness of cognition but no knives.

sapphoq on life

Friday, December 08, 2006


You might have a trust problem if....

You answer the phone with, "What do you want now?" instead of saying hello.

You don't vote because it's a losing proposition either way.

You leave the battery warmer on the car overnight in the summer.

You tell the new hires at work not to trust anyone there-- except you.

You bring a lawyer to your annual evaluation at work and to your annual physical.

You dig a moat around your property and import alligators to fill it.

You don't answer the door unless you are expecting company. The U.P.S. guy doesn't even bother ringing the bell anymore. Come to think of it, no one rings your doorbell anymore.
You have the first retinal eye scanner installed instead of a doorbell on your block.

Your best friend doesn't know what color eyes you have because you wear those mirror sunglasses all the time.

You talk back to the television commercials. Your telephone is right next to your easy chair in the teevee room.The Better Business Bureau is on speed-dial on your telephone. You have your own private mailbox to leave messages there in.

Every time your dog or cat come in from roaming round the neighborhood, you're waiting at the door with horse's urine. Double points if it's your daughter.

Got any to add to this list?

sapphoq n friends

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

OF THIEVERY 12/06/06

I went to an all-girls high school. I'd wanted to goto the co-ed public school but that didn't happen. Consequently, there were about fifty girls in each class. Each class was split into two sections. We shared homeroom together. After that, half of the homeroom went one way and half the other. During my time in that school, I got to know kids in both sections as well as those in the other grades. One of the teachers objected to me hanging out with the older kids when I was a sophomore but I was not to be deterred. It wasn't the older upperclassgirls who were the bad influence.

Some of the girls in my class were shoplifters. I had tried it, but having a nervous temperament I never had much success at it. My most expensive haul was a twelve dollar paperweight, my heaviest haul was a large package of chocolate m&ms, my prettiest and most daring was a pair of mittens. I gave up after my triad of attempts since I wasn't good at it anyways.

There was one girl in my section who used to save tags from the clothing her parents bought her and then she would "bring something back" whenever she got low on the dough. That was also stealing and one which I was familiar with. My mother used to switch price tags right in the department store in front of me, telling me to shut up when I protested. Another one stole a pair of overalls on a trip to Quebec City. We'd been told not to bring jeans. The teacher who came along was all angry over that. What she didn't know was that the overalls in question weren't paid for.

The queen of shop-lifting though came from a family of thieves. Her whole family shop-lifted. Her six year old kid brother came home with a bubble gum machine once and their mother said, "Well, just be careful." The shoplifting queen saved her family quite a bit of money on clothes. She stole them. She would walk into a large department store without a jacket and come out wearing a snazzy coat. We all knew that she was a talented shop-lifter. I don't know what happened to her or how the rest of her life went.

None of the shop-lifting activity was out of physical need. I didn't absolutely need to have that paperweight or the m&ms or the mittens. None of us had a lack of material things. It was something else, something more basic and intrinsic that was missing. Whatever it was, my much strongly entrenched anxiety very probably saved me from a shop-lifting career and arrest. At the time, I was a bit pissed off about it. Now, I think it is just as well. Being a nervous thief certainly has saved me from the pain that comes with arrest.

sapphoq on life

Monday, December 04, 2006

sapphoq grieves for new orleans 12/4/06

New Orleans is under water
and I grieve
for the lost.

I grieve for my sisters and brothers
whose candles were snuffed out
as the rains came
and came again.

I grieve for the children,
the parents,
the grands,
the familiars and the pets,
who had to leave their lives behind
or who themselves were left.

This then is the true meaning of grief--
an ache that does not go away.
It's been years
since I've been there,
but my heart has never left.


Author's Notes: I used to live in Baton Rouge back in 1978.
Gas was cheaper then.
New Orleans was part of my stomping grounds--
which extended from eastern Texas
Alabama, Mississippi,
and Tennessee.

I look forward to being able to return
for a visit. And I wish the people of
New Orleans the best.

I hope that the communities in New Orleans
have been able to pull together rather
than waiting for the government
to do it.

May there never be another Katrina.

-sapphoq on life

Saturday, December 02, 2006

CARS 12/1/06

The other day, I found to my disgust that replacing a failed part in my car would cost 1K. I elected to do without as the car would still run and pass inspection without it. That evening, I talked to my dad who told me that because my old car has more than 100,000 miles on it, any large-ticket fixing is just not worth it.

Later that evening, a young woman from the car place called advising that her manager has authorized her to offer me 1K trade-in for my car. I was lured into making an appointment by her offer.

At the car place, I looked at several cars and test-drove two of them. Because there were no sticker prices on any of the cars in the lot, I left without consummating a deal. During the test-drive, I did remember some car campaigns of the past.

My dad had been in cars for many years when I was growing up. He started off as a salesman and worked six days a week. If it snowed on Saturday nights, on Sundays he would operate the plow to clear the car lot. When the dealership got a guard dog, my dad was the one who volunteered to feed the dog every night [including Sundays]. My dad worked hard and it paid off. In short order he was made a general manager. Later on, he bought into a dealership as a vp and a couple of years later owned two dealerships. After retirement, he went back to work part-time as a loan officer for a dealership.

Chryslers, Plymouths, and Dodges. [And briefly, Fiats]. Those were the cars that filled our conversations, that we rode around in. When I was a real little kid, my dad asked me what kind of car I wanted. "A Volkswagon Beetle," I told him. Herbie the Love-bug figured prominently in my dreams of driving. "No," he explained to me. And thus was the beginning of my education in cars.

I remember a couple of the campaigns. One was for Rusty Jones which was some glop that the dealerships wanted to coat cars with to the tune of 2 or 3 hundred bucks extra. My dad told me about the old man he had sold a car to and was carefully explaining all of the Rusty Jones stuff to.
At the end of the explanation, the old man said, "I don't want any of that crap on my car!"

There was also a campaign involving white pressed styrofoam hats with red-white-and-blue paper bands around them. And the Calm Down campaign. The voice on the radio would come one and say, "Calm down. Calm down. Calm down." There was a big white button with electric blue letters that said, "Calm down" that went with that campaign and I did indeed own one.

My high school drivers ed teacher with the computer-like voice was inept at teaching me any driving skills. I remember driving around a snowy block at her direction three times and getting stuck in the same sewer grating each time. [Being stoned did not help the matter]. She would tell me to rock the car back and forth and several minutes later, I was off only to get stuck in the same grating again. My dad came to the rescue, putting me in various sizes of cars and exposing me to various road driving conditions. It is because of his careful patient instruction that I was able to get a driver's license. The computer-voice instructor had just caused my natural state of anxiety to heighten. The first driving lesson with my dad took place in a mall parking lot where I had to avoid the parking spaces lines. Every time I hit some lines, my dad would tell me how many "cars" I had just wiped out. I learned how to judge distances, how to drive on little streets and highways, how to keep up with traffic, how to parallel park, how to use a larger car to bump a smaller car that had squeezed me into a parking space. He was a great teacher.

My first car was a shiny red Dodge with a sunroof. Driving it was a blast. Dad declined to have a turbo-engine installed though. That was probably a wise decision. I'd been to the Pocono Raceway with him and I'd been enamored of the whole speeding crashing car thing.

Dad loved Lee Iacocca and gave me a copy of his autobiography. It was not the greatest written book nor the most objective. But Lee Iacocca was my dad's hero. I read it out of respect for him more than any other reason. One of the things that my dad had failed to mention [and from my recollection the book failed to mention] was that the Chrysler Corporation was saved by a government bail-out. I don't much care for the idea of government bail-outs now but I digress.

Eventually my dad retired and then went back to work part-time for a dealership as a loan officer. Only recently did he re-retire.

Odd how after all these years, I can still hear car commercials playing in my head-- both of the cars my dad sold and of the rival ones. Off I go now with "Wouldn't you really want to have a Buick...this year" playing in mad juxtaposition against the decending cresendo of "Calm down" and the theme song to Herbie the Love Bug in stereo.

As for me, I am still very much a Chrysler-Dodge-Plymouth sort of driver. Those were the cars I grew up with and what I still drive today.

sapphoq on life

Friday, December 01, 2006

GROWING UP 12/1/06

Gingerly I creep through your land mines,
marking each one for later destruction.
Fluorescent with need, you reach for me.

I am an ocean of desire.
I dance away from that which holds empty promises.
Free. Swirling, I burst into space a glittering of stars.

"I want to be loved." That is the stance of infants. And of grown-ups who refused to grow up. Or somehow weren't able to. I don't know which it was. Perhaps I never will know. That one particular incomprehensible family member in my memory, a dark bottomless pit of need. And I, the child expected to fulfill those needs. I should not have been placed under that burden. Yet, I was. Through no fault of my own. The only thing I had to do with that drama-- I got born. No, it is not something for my list of sins or omissions or self-inventory. It is not my shame any longer.

I remember more and more as days continue their countdown towards some nameless eternity or endless cycle. The more I participate in my existence, the more I remember. I am remembering. I am in a state of remembrance. There is a feeling I call pleasant that I associate with being able to use my renewed sense of recall regarding my life. I cannot as yet tell you who I was before my traumatic brain injury. But I can recount the little events in my life which helped to shape who I was.

I knew a girl who lived around the corner. I lived on Fourth Avenue. She lived on Springdale. Her name was CoraJean. Though with our accents, it got muffled into "Gor-Jean." It mustn't have mattered to her because she never corrected any of the neighborhood kids.

My mother hired Gor-Jean to walk me to church on Sundays. That ended when Gor-Jean made the senseless admission that she wished my mother was hers. My mother promptly fired her. "No girl should love someone else's mother more than their own," was her explanation to me. It went over my head. Gor-Jean did not make any profession of love.

Did that make my mother narcissistic? I don't know. Her insistence that I love her, devote myself to her, make her proud, make her happy, do the laundry, do the grocery shopping, be a perfect happy child was all-consuming. No matter what I did, it was never good enough. Report card day was always a trial. I should have gotten all As. I was stupid. Lazy. Tests, exams, papers-- the same. No grade was good enough. I was not good enough. I would forget the eggplant at the supermarket or pick out unripe fruit or purchase the wrong kind of cheese. I learned to ask the produce guy at Foodtown or some nice older lady to pick out the good apples, the nice pears, the broccoli. I was too young. Somehow, she forgot that when sending me off at a young age to do the shopping for the week for the whole family. She was always forgetting and going into rages.

She screamed at me over the telephone the day of the high school fair. She screamed that I had forgotten to tell her, she was worried sick about me. [A clever variation of, "You make me sick!" from younger days.] Hoping to placate her, I bought her a cheap Christmas ornament or some trinket. And it did placate her for the moment at least. That was not the last time. I remember bringing her two slices of pizza one Sunday evening after being out with friends for the same reason. She forgot. She was worried sick. I "made" her sick. What the hell did she think she was doing to me???

I escaped from her clutches when I left that place. It took years before I was able to breathe. It was years before I learned how to be enough. Years before I shook my mother out of my head and became truly free.

sapphoq on life