The Rogue Wave

It’s “just a beverage;”
you tell me;
Something wet,

that quenches,
enlivens your insides,
refreshes wholly
with  newness;
a tactile sensation,
an unexpected pleasant 360′ of emotion,
the flirtation of an ocean wave,
like a smile from across the room,
for you it’s real
for me
it’s not that same wave.
When it soaks you- you run to shore,
When it soaks me, I run in,
that unexpected wave,
I’m the child again,

it’s my first time at the beach
a welcome surprise, my first

rogue wave,
a cool reset on a sweltering day
you’ve tasted it’s salty rim
I hadn’t known I wasn’t alive?
I stood, my soul dripping
what it could not hold,
what it could not quench,
revealing the many tiny holes,
like a sieve it drains slowly at my feet
I am still thirsty same as you.

Part one: Why did you leave?

I was nearly two when it happened.  My mom had gone through the closet looking for clues.  She found a business card in the pocket of his clothes, my father’s clothes; the clothes she usually laundered.  Looking at the white rectangle business card she held in her hand spurred hot tears.  The logo looked so innocuous, so pleasant- A divorce attorney.  Why couldn’t he find the words?   As a toddler we are encouraged to use words rather than clock  unknowing people bruskly over the head with our toy?  Why couldn’t he find the words?   Not even Goodbye?

The Lesson nestled deep inside.

In a lifetime there’s no telling what we are exposed to that wriggles in deep and impacts our psyches, for better or worse.   One of my first memories is seeing a woman speeding across the J.C. Penny’s parking lot and my sister’s blonde hair hurling itself- what seemed like six feet into the air, along with the rest of her five year old frame, first the thud, then the reality.   The woman in her silver car still continuing on as if she didn’t just hit a small child.   I can still hear the aid car sirens and see flashes of red light making my shy sister the spectacle. I was three and well, she was the bossy older sister, always the smarter; this should have never happened. I am 45 now and I remember the day like it were last week.  The slant of the sun was nothing more than welcoming, it wasn’t in the driver’s eyes.    She was simply speeding.   I can see the grey bumpy rock façade on the Department store outside the Penny’s building. Thank god it didn’t kill her, what an ugly place that would be to die. I remember the horror in my mother’s face. Was my mom tending to me-is that where my sister’s anger towards me truly began?   Had she died, being three, I wouldn’t even have known to tell her I loved her.

In contrast, I have seen many pleasant things in this life too…. so why can I more easily recall the bad ones?….the blood pooling up in the parking lot where the tires of a Chevy Sedan crushed a boy’s head, during pick-up after Catholic Catechism?  This was the first time I questioned God.  So much brings me back to being Catholic, which was the only qualifying value imparted from the likes of my step father that was good and that stuck.   His rigid rules felt like love, his laughter felt like love, his love of red wine, well I learned to emulate that too, like any good Catholic does, as a way to soften the blow of not measuring up to Catholic Perfection.    Their were good things about my Catholic upbringing?     Donuts and dressing up for our First communion.   It felt fancy like we were royal blood,  I felt distinct from this priest, robed and using this word “worship.” He was seemingly so special in God’s eyes, he probably awoke without morning breath?      I liked a father figure since we had a step dad that worked nights.  The smell of his late night pan seared steaks filling the air as I slept, were comfort enough that he indeed had come home.   He was not A father- but he was a dad.   A father was  “Father Peter,” his soft hands, his full smile that fixed his eyes on you long enough to actually see you, hear you.     He was an important contrast to this man, my dad, the airplane mechanic, wearing overalls and Chukka boots and lighting up when I called him Daddy.    He was sometimes nice and sometimes hurtful.  I feel grateful today he stepped up for the job. And most grateful that he insisted we kids go to Sunday Mass.  If for nothing more than the candles and the music and the hope it inspired.     I can hear the priest cracking a joke,  despite his garb, robed in a starched looking garment, embroidered with gold etchings and fabric stiffer than my grandmother’s curtains.  How comforting, I would think, that even the perfect souls cracked jokes?     I marveled at how and why he would wave sage and incense; its puffs of steam coming from the tiny holes in the large brass tea sieve.  He didn’t seem to clue in how silly this seemed, making strokes as if he was painting the air with the seriousness of an impressionist artist.  I wondered if, when he waved it over the body of my grandfather- if it did anything different than it did now?

I guess I owe a lot to this figment-the one I pictured looking like the Eskimo on the tail of the Alaska Airlines jets.   Even if I refused the idea, the notions dipped into my life and pulled back-surprising me with it’s force, like a jet passing by.   And without that Catholic school dance in the basement of St. Stephen’s church, I may have never had my first kiss?      There in the downstairs in plain view with God himself upstairs, shadows teased at our faces… speckling the plain beige tiles of the floor with rainbows of color.  Without God being witness, I cannot imagine it being so perfect, they way my heart spilled under the disco ball as our lips touched.  Somehow there was this odd knowing, this presence, that erased any hint of shame or insecurity,  this knowing stood as if on legs before me telling me,  these are the very memories that  blot out the bad ones?

So when I try not to fixate on those OTHER days, to escape the child at the air base in Glen view, Illinois,  a very real witness to the excitement of a plane taking off and the horror of that plane crashing-right before my 8  year old eyes.   What mattered good or bad was how it affected us. What mattered more than ugliness was that there was somehow a beautiful lesson nestled deep inside of it.    That bushy almost handsome bearded guy they had me visualize in mass had told me so-not in so many words.   My hope is that he also finds time to send a message bigger than words to tell my sister that the good…. will eventually ..outweigh the bad.

Peabody’s Rescue

She stood alone at the edge of the cliff overlooking the drop off that had recently formed after heavy rains.  Her tears washed over her face until her whole body was sobbing.   She willed the world to swallow her into it.  It didn’t matter if she were here, of this earth,  one more day, she was invisible at this moment anyway, he didn’t want her any more and she didn’t know if she even wanted herself.    Clearly she had to decide if what he saw in her was perhaps more than she saw in her own self?    IF she were so selfish as to hurl herself into the unknown feeling, and sucessfully disconnect from the physical world-ripped from the people that gave her the gift of heartache, would that day that they trickled holy water over her head….would that moment prevail?   Like a grand shield, negating her decision, simply by having waved a hand, and calling her life “symbolic” Frankincense and Myrhh inciting her first sneeze.. ..” God”  seeping into her infant pores through her angelic white satin dress, would that be the clincher?   Is that what does it-a hand reaches out through the air, just before her heart is pierced by some metal debris jutting out.  Would this crevice instead cradle her in a hug as luck would have  it?  She’d felt other-worldly embraces before-that summer as a child, she swam in two confused angry torrents of undertow pulling her under…..”Deception Pass,” A red flag?  Eegads… this is true…. She would undoubtedly only puncture herself on the creamy skin of her face, her FACE….her best feature, and forever have to explain this awful puncture scar long after the bloody scabs had dropped away and the tears had dried and the twigs were removed from her hair-only her heart remaining forever bruised.   That is the story that could live inside her in shame?   How does one carry that secret with them? …..how would she tell that story- as luck would have it, she would indeed stay undiscovered for just enough time to realize she DID want to live and then some senior citizen dressed as if she were still middle aged in her designer matching sweat suit and pants in some unfathomable color like, turquoise, would come along with her perfectly manicured hands, matching her outfit, and her cloud of white toy poodle, whom she was just sharing the exquisite view with…she would be the one to find her!    That is how life works.   And  in her surprise she would have to befriend this woman who had  ”saved her”   whose surprise didn’t show on her face due to the success of her  many Botox sessions-robbing her of any expression.   She’d peer out over the oblivious eagles and grand rolling hills in the distance and happen upon my body, twisted in a heap of despair on that cliff side,  leaning over she’d say to me in that perfect Betty White sugary tone ” oh honey, why do you let boys DO that to you?

Cliff's Edge

For David, my Friend

A writing Exercise:  use the phrase “I don’t Know”

I don’t know how a single picture, a face, a man’ face, can hold so much power.  A 4 by 6 square that reveals indeed, it really IS in the eyes.  Perhaps that is why I don’t show mine in my picture?  A simple photo, of a scruffy face, and his name, on the most voyeuristic website I know of….on his head he wears a ball cap, still I feel as if he has hair.  He is fifty something, and those eyes; they tell stories even when they are simply dead still, yes-they tell.   There is a tear behind one and a warm rough hand reaching out from the other.  This “someone” I have never actually met; I’ve only seen his picture, black and white only. It makes me think about those old movies with men leaving their homes in times of war, with a picture in the breast pocket of his uniform, leaving his girl and treasuring a simple photograph for months or years.   That picture may make their heart rev up or make them salivate at the mere memory of a scent, her perfume, her cooking….. wishing for nothing more than to feel and smell her hair.   The power of this anonymous online picture also reinforces my words are false words; motherly words that hold no worth As I preach to my teenage son who is constantly attached to his online community  “you cannot know someone, you cannot call them your friend, simply from knowing them online, I say, that is not friendship-never actually meeting them.”   But I feel I know this man.  I know he is, at least, for the writer in me, a character that is not simply a retired mail man, that is the piece I know about him.  It appears he is so much bigger.   He embraces simplicity, he lends advice and doesn’t judge.  He is a mate to pass the ball back and forth with….he is a true carrier of wisdom, and perhaps the vision that he brought mail, sometimes important, sometimes junk mail that he is a bringer of things and he is friendly and mailman was his worldly facade perhaps?   He is a character that makes me feel self aware, validated even.   That is not to say this man is my crush, for not so.  This man is a comfort like an old worn out teeshirt and they call him Winter though he is anything but cold.  You wonder how I know him?  I know him cause he reads my blog.  He knows me, cause he reads my blog.  Since he’s read my blog and comments as such, I have come to feel that he may in fact know things that even not everybody even close friends, know about me.   So alas, this stranger fills a void, for the familiar for comforts, to fill silence with goodness or to make me want to trust in friendship again.    And whether he truly has insights into my true nature, well that isn’t what matters.  It’s simply that the illusion of friendship is enough.   As intangible as it may be, it fills a life void that feels very tangible, like a well loved book it “gets” me and unlike a well loved book, I can tell my picture presence, it holds for me,a thousand words of thanks.

Cliff’s Edge (A Free Write)

And she stood alone at the edge of the cliff overlooking the drop off that had recently formed after heavy rains.  Her tears washed over her face until her whole body was sobbing.   She willed the world to swallow her into it.  It didn’t matter if she were here, of this earth,  one more day, she was invisible at this moment anyway, he didn’t want her any more and she didn’t know if she even wanted herself.    Clearly she had to decide if what he saw in her was perhaps more than she saw in her own self?    IF she were so selfish as to hurl herself into the unknown feeling, and sucessfully disconnect from the physical world-ripped from the people that gave her the gift of heartache, would that day that they trickled holy water over her head….would that moment prevail?   Like a grand shield, negating her decision, simply by having waved a hand, and calling her life “symbolic” Frankincense and Myrhh inciting her first sneeze.. ..” God”  seeping into her infant pores through her angelic white satin dress, would that be the clincher?   Is that what does it-a hand reaches out through the air, just before her heart is pierced by some metal debris jutting out.  Would this crevice instead cradle her in a hug as luck would have  it?  She’d felt other-worldly embraces before-that summer as a child, she swam in two confused angry torrents of undertow pulling her under…..”deception pass,”   like that weren’t a red flag!  Eegads… this is true…. She would undoubtedly only puncture herself on the creamy skin of her face, her FACE….her best feature, and forever have to explain this awful puncture scar long after the bloody scabs had dropped away and the tears had dried and the twigs were removed from her hair-only her heart remaining forever bruised.   That is the story that could live inside her in shame?   How does one carry that secret with them? …..how would she tell that story- as luck would have it, she would indeed stay undiscovered for just enough time to realize she DID want to live and then some senior citizen dressed as if she were still middle aged in her designer matching sweat suit and pants in some unfathomable color like, turquoise, would come along with her perfectly manicured hands, matching her outfit, and her cloud of white toy poodle, whom she was just sharing the exquisite view with…she would be the one to find her!    That is how life works.   And  in her surprise she would have to befriend this woman who had  “saved her”   whose surprise didn’t show on her face due to the success of her  many Botox sessions-robbing her of any expression.   She’d peer out over the oblivious eagles and grand rolling hills in the distance and happen upon my body, twisted in a heap of despair on that cliff side,  leaning over she’d say to me in that perfect Betty White sugary tone ” oh honey, why do you let boys DO that to you?

Unaltered

I love teenagers they keep my ego in check.  The other day, I was enjoying lunch my with preteen and teen kids, man my kids are mean, do they take after me?   So-my mom and my dad were there, Dad-who despite being in a wheel chair has all his hair and fewer wrinkles than me, despite those Pall Malls, we’re logging some family time.  My kids proceeded to tell me that I looked older than my mom-Damn the wine and steroids.  Damn the Ban De Soleil ads.   Damn my mother prodding me to get out of the sun why didn’t she just say “Lisa, spend another hour or two out their in that 2:00 O Clock sun sweetie.”   My kids secretly clicked away as I told stories at lunch.  The click was my phone- they had slid it outta of my purse undetected.  My forehead up close has serious wrinkles.   Each one having a different story for all the seven wrinkles stacked like ripples in the sand perched above my brows.     They giggled…which caught my attention.  Teenagers don’t laugh.  I realized they were taking photos of me, good and close up, making sure to get the dry texture of my skin and the freshly puffy eyes from sleeping in.   I had thought I’d looked good when I left the house?  Then….they took photos of the forbidden zone.  Yes-my forehead!   The ripples are deep as deep as the unfortunate life episodes that carved them there.   Each one a mark of time, a tear-filled, anger filled, episode -that one most prominent had to be where they cuffed me and put me in the back of the car.   I don’t drink anymore……but indeed the ones on my forehead made me want to excuse myself from the table and demand Cherie my hairdresser come right over with her scissors and snip me some bangs -NOW.   My wrinkles matched the ripples on my textured olive green sweater.  The sharpness of the iphone photos are incredible.   My forehead looks like Gordon Fucking Ramsey’s!  Shit, less coffee, more night cream.   Suddenly I wanted to get home so I could have some Chevy Chase frozen faced unnaturally blonde facial lady inject poisonous shellfish toxins into my forehead and end this discussion.   But then what would happen?   Like Pandora’s box, I’d be like the celebrity addicts Michael Jackson, Joan Rivers,  Carrothead….top, whatever-I would turn into one of those airbrushed addicts who then look at their lips and suddenly think they should be bigger? Then their boobs, then their mouth starts talking to them in slow mo looking like Mick Jaggar’s -everthing looks distorted and imperfect.   Id feel like a teenager stoned for the first time sitting on the sink looking with panic into the bathroom mirror.  Then the lines around the lips reveal every imperfection looking like a cigarette must have plugged that fumarole nightly and cocktail hour must have lasted until dawn.  I mean wrinkles are like worse than belly fat!  Thanks god I don’t have fat issues.  Eegads.  The wrinkles spoke now like that man’s boil in the movie “How to get Ahead in Advertising.”  My appearance would taunt me.  I would demand my eyes be pulled tighter until I looked like Connie Chung and I was craving Oxycodone hourly.    Later I asked my uncle if I looked older than my mom, he answered, “it depends on the lighting. ”  I decided surgery might take me down-the remedy would be bangs, Mexican potency advanced levels of Retinol and rose tinted glasses everywhere just like Jack Nicholson. Cause quite frankly there is nothing less than genuinely real about me.   I’d surrender Lisa to the knife, why now?  Besides, I really am prettier inside. Some day when my kids call me to borrow money, they will have my entire plastic surgery fund, the one I didn’t use-at their disposal!

Take the Love that is there.

It is not simply more love, less hate;

It is “let’s talk about it,”

Let sit through it….the ugliness,

perhaps not holding hands…but meeting eyes,

a scouring pad couldn’t  clean it,

the layer of burnt on hurt…

But I will sit with it, cross legged-like a yogi

I will inhale it’s truth-

as I inhale smog filled air.

I will wear it, even if it bunches at the knees,

And pools at the ankles,

as ill-fitting as a cheap suit with a chincy hand; navy blue,

Sure you can drive people away, flatten them,

Like a race car driver named Pity,

leaving black rubber at every turn.

But like me you’ll awake another day;

Breathe in through your nose,

 

smell all that is fetid and rank,

Surely you’ll wince and turn away,

but it smells of truth- the kind you avoid

the kind with answers;

and when the air is cleared it smells clean like the sea.

Even Raw chicken,

must be seasoned and roasted,

to bring about flavor.

Sit with all that is real, raw, even the unthinkable

A murderer in a grey walled cell,

Surrounded by each moment of what he has done,

with no where to look but inward.

Go back to the beginning of you,

did it start at your mother’s breast

or did it start on the couch with the canary yellow floral print

and the rust colored piping that trimmed the arms that hugged you in-

that jungle of upholstery telling a story through faint smells

of gingerbread and cigarettes

And drug store perfume that should be called Eau de’mothballs,

take the love that is there and forgive.

Obama’s Coming!

On occasion, I find myself driving wide-eyed in curiosity through those homes in Medina, staring through the metal gates and precision manicured bushes and the doors with exquisite fixtures even door hardware that makes you gape in awe and wonder, wondering, what is it that they do, that makes them so much money; new money, innovation, brilliant DNA, that granted them a trust fund early. Which brings me to today’s daydream. We housewives that tend to our kids, with playdates and organic milk and cookies often have these and they can be quite grandiose when we haven’t talked to a grown up in a while.
Here’s to today’s delusions of grandeur……Obama is in town, headed I am sure to Leschi, or Madrona not even Windermere place in Sand Point-it’s not luxuriously fit for the Michelle’s hubby, Barack. Today, despite our dismal lack of sunshine and sprinkles of rain, despite the traffic problems of the normal highway closures, Obama is in town to dine with the special interests of the political elite.
This is where the delusions come in. I think to myself, who gets to host him? Who gets invited? Who has $25,0000 a plate and what on earth are they serving, black garlic on gluten free toasts and King Salmon fished from the very waters of the house it’s perched on…perhaps just moments before his limo pulls up? He is to be dining at Ex CEO of Costco, Fill name in here-but times, plans, specifics, the route he’ll travel are, of course, extremely confidential. Seattle has its share of lunatics- surely products of season affect disorder, but a secret, makes it all so much more intriguing, sublime and worth sharing with you all. HEY SEATTLE, OBAMA IS IN TOWN!!!!!
Then, in my daydreams I go through my closet and then I decide….”well I have that one Betsy Johnson dress that could work, and one diamond earring that isn’t lost. Then again it is summer, and Nordstrom downtown could set me up since my dress is so “Fall-Inspired,” the teal velvet and lace, black would be better, or vibrant summer green, and Mac could do my make-up? I am well-mannered enough, and politically well versed in current affairs to hold my own for conversation? I have seen Zero Dark Thirty, Wag the Dog and All the Presidents Men, so I could show up, I just got my nails done the other day…… red which is quite presidential…but then there goes the green dress idea. Black it is. Then, in a blip, as if I have consumed ice cream too fast the real world brings color back to my flesh. I shake my head to rattle myself back to reality, rush to the kitchen to find out what that sound is and alas remember, there is a pot of coffee brewing, and so far, my kids haven’t found me for at least fifteen minutes!
For just a few more seconds, I will continue my sweet yearning for big pastures of greatness, let the hopeful flame burn just a wee bit longer. Just me, hiding out, me, YOU, the lap top, and me, giddy with daydreams, like a movie….look who’s coming to dinner, hmm pun not intended? The sun is setting, or not cause it rained. “Please find your assigned seat Barack, Michelle, Bill or Melinda, perhaps Jeff Bezos, Mr. Schultz, Mr. Coscto stockholder, and Me Lisa Behrens,” cause, really I am plenty smart enough, cultured, I know what fragrances are in, and what hostess gift to bring Mr. EX Costco’s wife, something teal with those cactusy plants, you know the ones…..Tis true-not a daydream anymore! I am equipped to answer any question they throw at me. Between CNN, nightly news the Seattle times and My Vanity Fair..oh and Money Magazine, I keep current on these things, “totally prepared….”I’m sorry again what is it you do Miss Behrens? “ “I am a venture capitalist, my venture- my kids, my capitol whatever they turn out from my expert parenting, after investing swim, lessons, piano, guitar, foreign films…the list goes on; The private teachings of all I have to offer in modeling the walk and talk of success to my kids, even if it is just a dramatization?

Aging, the wonderous Carmelization of Self

Aging, the Wonderous Carmelization of self

Let it be known, it’s natural to ponder life, tick, tick ticking away. Before your eyes, your first child walks then drives a car, gets married. Life unravels before you- like it or not. It’s meaning, its’ call, it’s message? Nothing that cannot be found in any number of songs, from the Eagles, to Aretha to Merle Haggard, it’s there like that sign you’ve driven by for years and just noticed.ds….…As we accrue another year, as if it were a freckle, we cannot turn away from those lessons, those hidden gifts, they simply are everywhere.
People, myself included, as they age, often want the brief scenario of things, the quick n dirty. I even gravitate towards the section of the newspaper, that tells the most in the least amount of words, I just love the obituaries for this reason. Seems morbid-yes? I find it honest, the topic of life, calls death on the carpet in contrast. Perhaps we read the obits to feel as though our lives are in good measure; keeping in stride with at least the average person’s story. If for nothing more, than ticking off of our list-what five Who, What Where When and Why’s of our lives would be of mention if today was our last day on earth? Do you fall short, and if so, what’s stopping you from get busy with your real truth the job you were sent to do. Today may as well be the day you get busy fluffing up your story, putting the finishing touches on the life that defines who you truly are?
For many, we find being a parent, a graduate, a stable, conforming, law abiding, home owning member of society perhaps is too insignificant to chalk up to being successful. Today, just dream a little, risk a little, be brave and fearless if just for today. Google that idea you’ve been sitting on. Research open land to build that house, or that roller rink in the nasty part of town to give kids a place to have fun and be safe? Is there a patent on your invention? How much would you really have to save to do it? Just maybe, it is brilliant or innovative or original or soooo good someone did it already? That’s validation. You know that project you don’t have the money to do? You know that plane ticket you don’t have the money to purchase- make it happen? Go find it, sell your art, sell your table, refurbish old shit and double the price, make your prized cracker recipe (my neighbor has a huge newly built house for this exact reason!) don’t whine about never having been there, find a way, and GET there! Polish up your obituary before you must, hurry to volunteer and shine up your unattained goals! Make it happen. I for one want to be moved, inspired; relieved by your good ending…. if in fact-God willing, you end up in the Obituary section of tomorrow’s paper!