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!
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?
Random Thoughts TOP TEN
1. Of course your family can press your buttons the most, they sewed them on
2. I think my cat understands my poetry more than anyone
3. It really is important to have siblings for your kids, so someone can attest to that “YES- events of your childhood in fact DID happen.”
4. Rather than fight a mood, I turn it inside out; which is why I had a wild patterned seventies polyester floral dress on yesterday
with cop glasses, and a Boston Celtic rapper ball cap; bill obnoxiously straight.
5. I am almost pleased that the discount brow wax went so poorly-or I’d never have noticed my brow pencil is dubbed, Dirty Blonde, like myself.
6. I realized yesterday that I am not the pretty sister anymore and I was oddly okay with that?
7. When I realized I was not the pretty sister anymore-I did realize I may be getting prettier inside……plus I am too tired to be vain and too old to be competitive
8. I have gotten over Facebook breaking up with me…..but I swear I have seen Facebook driving by my house?!
9. I should have never told my kids what a skin flute was.
10. I feel validated in spending double money on my haircuts and color since my husband is bald.
I could balance a spreadsheet….
if I wanted to,
I’ve mastered how to plan five dinners
On exactly ten bucks;
I can get a stain out of white anything
And remove the mildew stench
From the laundry load, had I not been consumed by this fabulous book my incisors are buried deep into-
what? you haven’t a new pair, that isn’t limp and shaped like you are still in them?
I can etch my lashes black
And shade my eyes to really pop like I’m a vixen
If I wanted to wear the expensive underwear I could
and I could be inspired to show you what I’ve mastered You don’t even know….I can twirl one pasty at a time!
Don’t think I don’t know how lucky
It is that I look best in jeans
And my hair suits my face best pulled back
And my real beauty shines best
in a plain rag-thin t-shirt
with a black bra underneath.
I invite you to fetch some ketchup
From my fridge…. You’ll notice,
It’s so clean you could lick it…
And even if you dared to ask what I did all day,
I wouldn’t let on….. my daydreams
are too racy for dinner talk,
and my poetry… to deep for you to understand
Freidrich Nietche’ “ If there is something to pardon in everything, there is also something to condemn.”
As a writer, I take seriously the teachings of the finer artists that came before me. I try hard, really hard, to avoid use of “the forbidden cliché.” Brian Klem puts it like this in his Writer’s Digest article: “Clichés drive me bonkers, especially when it comes to writing. They are boring and abused and about as fun to read as the instruction manual of a Dustbuster. Writing is supposed to be a creative process, and there’s nothing creative in rehashing some trite phrase that is so old it was probably used by Moses as he parted the Red Sea.” You will find them in all books on writing “Cut every cliché you come across,” advises author and editor, Sol Stein. “Say it new or say it straight” (Stein on Writing, 1995). The Rebel in me is like “Rules schmules!”…. About now, I hear the tiny voice of my internal conflict: “Lisa….. go ahead, try it.” True to a writer’s instinct, I cannot help but embrace the rebellion that makes me so attracted to the cliché! Its magnetism is uncanny, like the allure of forbidden connections, a flirtation between a popular cheerleader and that hunky boy who takes auto-shop and doesn’t even take a foreign language?!?! They sneak glances…. it’s exploration may be worthwhile. There is a story in the forbidden story. Yes, I am a Capulet and the Cliché a Montague. Perhaps we just dance around the cliché’ with an opinion piece about cliché’s? Then, slowly, very gingerly, I’ll un-wrap the cliché in front of you for all to see!
First, some history about the Cliché, defined as “a trite or overused expression or idea, if it were a song if would be “Call me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen. According to Wikipedia: The word cliché is drawn from the French language. In printing, a cliché was a printing plate cast from movable type. This is also called a stereotype. When letters were set one at a time, it made sense to cast a phrase used repeatedly, as a single slug of metal.”Cliché” came to mean such a ready-made phrase. Others say, a”cliché” comes from the sound made when the molten stereotyping metal is poured onto the matrix to make a printing plate.
The point I want to argue is, wherever it started, as over-used as they may be, if you want to bring your readers to a place, the very same place; have them relate-simultaneously, a cliché’s will do it! Overdone could be just the nuance you are trying to create?
Cliches’ that immediately come to mind are : “don’t assume, to assume is to make an ass out of U and Me.” I don’t need to tell you I believe this one to be true in the pit of my being! I would imagine you are calling forth a humiliating episode about now? I once asked a new coworker, who worked as the head of women’s health and reproductive classes at the college a question nodding to her belly, she had quite a pooch showing out front, an obvious baby bump-Not! …. DOH! The words froze when I heard her response, completely uncharacteristic of my extemporaneous self, I couldn’t utter a thing. My skin flushed red like the mercury in an old thermometer.
Some clichés are like your childhood wubby or whatever you call that rag of a blanket you used to drag around. This one, I find that endearing. Alfred Lord Tennyson’s said “tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” So terribly romantic!!! If you are sixteen and your heart has had to retract from a size of unimaginable inflation, to encapsulate all the love you’d filled it with for your first boy or girlfriend, perhaps you relate? We just had a moment created by a cliché.’ And after you are back from revisiting the memory of your first heartache, might I just add……Tennyson obviously never lay crying in a heap on a lovers doorstep until the sun went down, or had to get a restraining order on some icky stalker type? I often wonder if they should have shown me that scene in Romeo and Juliet in the 8th grade?
Cliché’s are often warm and familiar too. Some can be as comforting as a warm grilled cheese and cup of tomato soup placed in front of you by your mom. This one is… “Never in the world does hatred cease by hatred; hatred ceases by love.” The Buddha, Yes I realize that one may teeter on a “quote,” as it is not overly used, and perhaps should be. Still worth mentioning. I just stopped for a second to put that one in my toolbox alongside my hammer and tape measure.
So in light of all that I really should have learned by now, this one, just doesn’t get enough credit. “Always wear clean underwear, in case you’re in an accident.” How can this not be calling forth a fresh idea? As a reader, You are either thinking of all the places you stashed a fresh pair, or of the moments in your life, when you needed clean undies, BECAUSE of an accident. Perhaps you have even had to ditch them…..”yes accidents do happen.” If you’ve interpreted this cliché in a woman’s tone of voice, you understand what I’m getting at.
Perhaps tis true, “you cannot teach an old dog new tricks,” I am an older writer. We tend to cling tight to the cliché because we don’t fight for originality as we once did. Maturity and simplicity start to rule our lives; more than even the expert scholars whose books we cherish. We have replaced our need to be profoundly original, and maybe too, we have just quit trying so hard. The self righteousness in us somehow softens and the pain of a lesson seems to be “just what the doctor ordered.”
For more cliche advice I recommend http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/27/worst-cliches_n_3819046.html
More Than a Grocery List
Fruit, because it’s so lovely you can paint it
Rubber gloves, because life, at times, requires a barrier from you and it
Orange Juice, because oranges grow in a sunny place and Winter is heavy upon us
Tofu because if you don’t drink wine anymore, what’s the point of cheese?
Pears, because they behold Winter and remind us to celebrate womanly shapes
A fire log because if you’re squirrely indoors, it helps to recreate early man and the discovery of your own quiet ingenuity
White Roses, because it’s been a while since someone bought you any, and your spouse sees a BLT the same way
Roasted Chicken, so you can dice it into a pie crust, toss it into a white sauce and pretend you cooked today rather than wrote poetry
A looking glass to capture my beauty
A hubba-hubba hiney to enhance my booty,
A knit pair of socks that comes in three’s
A Mexican maid ta’ keep me off my knees
A knowing smile from my loving brood,
Some pheromone gel to enhance my mood
Six calling suitors, without solicitous needs
Two family members relinquishing me of all their deeds
A fragile snow globe holding my 2 enemies captive
42 years child support, current and retroactive
When I close my eyes on Christmas Eve
The French Antilles-a winter’s reprieve?
Rotund, blossoms like chestnut halves
Burst forth from her khaki short-shorts, even the squirrels
Would be alarmed, and at her age?
Tight buns peek like perfectly browned morning muffins awaiting butter….
True they are worthy of attention-agreed.
But let us not steal the light of the newborn, the first meeting of Jesus,
As he filters moral goodness
Down upon the mid morning darkness of the church.
Light filters through the chapel as tenderly as the waters of blessed salvation
sprinkle down upon newborn skin
Like an answer to a lingering question.
Hope and eternal redemption are hand in hand with baptism
Bronzed cheeks are hand in hand with string bikinis on a poolside cabana.
How does one compete with a wordless confession
as blatant as this?
Perhaps she does not know how to pray?
Not THAT lady….
Not today, I promised to breathe in only that which fills me.
She does not. But rather plucks at my strings,
Like a toddler on a ukulele at the three o’clock hour
Head pounding, succumbing to lethargy
The prayers answer would be sleep, instead
I must splash my face with the proverbial cold water of ettiquette
I pull strength from within, like a belly filled with poetry
The orb teetering on my neck, a glass see-thru skull,
Pulsates like a frog’s thin skin, stretched, puffed, garbled, ribbit!
Like an anxious teller who knew there was something not right.
I cannot pretend to be unaffected,
Her boundaries spill into my comfort zone.
There is a bothersome delivery punctuating her every word
My mantra settles me “stay true, stay true, stay true…”
I beam as if I must’ve seen a baby shrew
The surprise in my voice goes up like a perfect pitch-then smack
The baseball is quickly back down in foul territory
“Hi, I’m in a Huuuuuge hurry, nice to see you”
Life is ticking away, no time for burdened souls
Souls, who cannot feel your presence, souls fueled by Harlequin novels,
When you yourself prefer non-fiction.
But instead, I listened and nodded.
My Biggest Regrets…or My Mounting Mending Pile
Not taking auto shop
Telling my kids the important quote “it’s better to regret something you have done, than to regret something you haven’t done” was said by a band called the Butthole Surfers.
My twenty-first birthday being “celebrated” the same weekend as my brother’s funeral
Writing only half of an important book
Not following that passion that keeps surfacing again and again-the need to sing and play an instrument
Streaking through a golf course, streaking through the zoo at night, streaking through a party……ahh, whatever-it’s better to regret something that you HAVE done than haven’t done 🙂
Not saying more to that childhood friend I bumped into because I didn’t have make-up on
Not telling my childhood friend, I wished I had been her friend despite that her husband would never be my friend.
Not telling the first love of my life, I knew I couldn’t marry him because I was too young.
Not having any dancing at my own wedding
Thinking walks are not exercise because you don’t sweat
Being way too smug and proud that I was one of the only ones “not showing” in the courthouse court line-up for marriage license in Clark county Nevada!
Not being able to “partay like it was 1999-because I was pregnant….hmmm I could have still streaked?
Telling that doctor off who saved my life when I was six “How would you like me to shove a tube up your nose!”
Not telling my father after finally speaking to him after twenty five years to grow some balls and make a decision without consulting with his wife.
Not giving myself more credit for being the kind of person I would want to know.
Not sending more pretty cards with a hand written note and a stamp of sealing wax that says, I would not be the person I am today without knowing you!
Not truly wanting to forgive my chain smoking mother for smoking in my home and telling me to go outside when I had an asthma attack-“It’s psychosomatic” she would say.
Not knowing the first time I got cut-off by a bartender….that me and alcohol just weren’t friends
Not Knowing about eyelash curlers in my twenties, Not knowing just how precious life was until I was 30