One summer on Martha’s Vineyard, I worked for a friend, Rob, who owned an import clothing retail store that carried brightly woven mildly hippie-ish fabrics in all shapes and sizes from Guatemala.

Being a hippie and being me, I loved the fashion. But the real reason that this was one of the best jobs I’d ever had was due to Rob himself. You couldn’t ask to work with anyone who was more fun.

Since he was in the position of not really having to make or worry about money, our lack of customers never stressed him out.

His favorite part of the day was at 5:00 pm, or sometimes 4:00, hitting the “No Sale” button which opened the cash drawer, allowing him to remove the day’s income. Then we would stroll across the street to the Colonial Inn (and Bar), sit on the porch drinking Long Island Iced Tea and discuss “business.”

What more could a gal ask for in an employer?

Feliz the store was named after Feliz the bird.

Feliz the bird was some large brightly colored talking thing that Rob had brought back from one of his trips South. Feliz lived in the store; his cage, which he didn’t spend too much time in, sat on the counter next to the register. He was great company.

Except when he wasn’t.

He would sit on top of his cage when someone entered the store and sweetly say, “Welcome.” Well, it won over any and everyone that came in.

“May I pet him?”

“Sure,” if you want to take your life in your hands.

“You must just love having him in here to keep you company.”

Yeah, love him like I love a hole in the head.

Sometimes he would make little “hmmmm” of “tisk tisk” sounds which innocent shoppers would attribute to him giving fashion advice.

I knew he was just gearing up for the real show.

Eventually, the potential buyer would approach the counter with a few select items and that’s when it would start.

“Get out.”

“What did he just say?”

“Get Out!”

“Oh that’s so funny,” then, “Oh silly bird, I’m just buying this dress.”

“GET OUT! GO!!!.”

Yep, just like the Amityville Horror.

At this point, the emphatic harassment would begin to included some wing flapping and feather rustling.  He also swung his head from side to side which made it appear as if he might be having an epileptic fit.


The average person would drop their items and run. The very bravest would ask if it was safe to approach the cash register.

I would then put on a big show about reprimanding Feliz and putting him in his cage. If he continued his abuse (which he always did), I would then throw a bright Guatemalan serape over the cage which would silence him long enough for the customer to grab her wallet out of her purse.



Seriously, this came from under the blanket, sweet and curious and forlorn – heartbreaking, really.

If you didn’t know better.


No wonder we had to go to the bar at the end of the day.


I hate being wrong…

…but apparently, he woke me up last night to tell me that he was spending the night at a friend’s house and I said “Have fun.”

Absolutely not one ounce of recollection of even the tiniest bit of the conversation, but it was verified by his brother so I’ll believe that it happened.

At least I was getting some good sleep.



It’s 7:44 am and I have been fuming for the last 44 minutes – since I got up to get coffee and discovered that my child didn’t come home last night.

I’m pretty sure I know where he is, but that doesn’t stop me from wondering and it certainly doesn’t make it acceptable.

And of course his phone is turned off.

We had an argument last night because I asked if they were going to be home for dinner and Greg and Peter both, individually, said yes (Bobby is out of town). Then, at actual dinner time, I told them to come on home, and Peter said that he wasn’t going to.

Apparently holding him to his commitment was treating him like a child and taking away his freedoms.

I tried to explain that actually, following through on a commitment, especially in a case where it involves someone else doing something nice for you like preparing a meal, is the most adult thing so I was holding him to an adult standard.

He hates being caught, so he just shook his head and said, “You don’t understand,” in a very condescending way.

I wasn’t going to engage so I just said, “If you guys go anywhere, you need to tell me.”

They left and then Peter sent me a text saying they were going to friend’s, not partying, and not spending the night.

So here is now is, 7:54, and he’s not home. Greg is sound asleep in his bed.

Is this acting like an adult? Apparently being treated like a grownup means that you have no responsibility to the rest of the family, particularly in the communication department.

He’s 16. He’s still a child.

And he will always be my child.

And as long as he lives under my roof, like it or not, there are going to be rules and expectations.

This is the first time one of them has just not come home. I’m trying not to freak out since I do think I know his location.

But what if I don’t?

And what if this is the first step (or maybe just another step) onto a very slippery slope.

So I might not be in a panic over where he is currently, but I am in one about where he might end up.

UTAH, the aftermath

I want to lie on the warm slickrock.

Yep, collapsed on the hard stone when I finally, finally, FINALLY, made it back to my campsite.

I want to escape emotional mini-drama

Didn’t manage that until I was out of cell range. Thank god for blank spots on the technological map.

I want to hike until I drop.

Did I really ask for that?

Or until my stubby-legged dog drops.

24 hours later and he’s still asleep.

I want to sleep in a pile of down.


I want to breathe.

Was thinking expansive breaths, not panting and anxiety-driven hyperventilating.

I want to not worry about money.

Who cares about money when you’re not sure you will ever return to civilization?

I want to not risk being misunderstood.

No worries about that when I didn’t see another soul.

I want to feel strong.

I did. For a long time. Before I felt weak, exhausted, and mildly embarrassed. I feel strong again now.

I want hot Emergen-C at sunset and hot coffee at sunrise.

The morning coffee was everything that I had hoped for – in my pile of down – with my stubby legged dog.

I want to stretch my legs, my mind, my spirit.

Oh I stretched it all, for sure: joy, wonder, bliss, befuddlement, confusion, anxiety, fear, worry, relief, joy, merriment.

Can’t get there fast enough.

Can’t wait to go again..



I want to lie on the warm slickrock.

I want to escape emotional mini-drama

I want to hike until I drop.

Or until my stubby-legged dog drops.

I want to sleep in a pile of down.

I want to breathe.

I want to not worry about money.

I want to not risk being misunderstood.

I want to feel strong.

I want hot Emergen-C at sunset and hot coffee at sunrise.

I want to stretch my legs, my mind, my spirit.

Can’t get there fast enough.


Is it that more bad stuff is happening to young people?

Is it that I just know about more because I live in a small community?

Is it that all of this kind of stuff was going on when I was a young person but I was totally sheltered?

Is it that when I was young no one talked about it all and now we are?

Is it the company I keep?

Or is the world just a scarier place?

I don’t know the answer(s); it could be All of the Above.

What I do know is that another young person in our community has died a wasteful death. She has left 2 small children behind. She made bad choices. Her life was really hard.

And now the lives of those who loved her just got harder.


stupid stupid stupid

My truck’s been complaining about the cold.

Uncooperative really.

So I went out and bought a brand new battery.

“Would you like for us to test your current battery?”

“Nope. Thanks.  I know it’s time for a new one.”

$112 later and -3 and the damn thing won’t start.

Not the battery.

“Call the mechanic,” MCB suggests.


1 week later and a couple of rough mornings, “Did you call the mechanic?”

“No, I will.”

Then, the rough mornings stopped and my sweet truck started like a dream for over a week. So I decided to wait until I needed an oil change which I knew was soon due. Plus, I thought I could wait for another payday.

Really, I was just hoping that the problem had gone away.

So here I sit, late for work, waiting for the sun to shine it’s smiling face while the voice of my truck snickers, “Told you so.”

Your very bad grammar

I’ve been so good.

I’ve been totally behaving myself.

I haven’t ranted or raved or made fun of them for quite some time.

I’m really trying to just ignore them completely.

But I just can’t help myself – they’re too easy. It’s like they are begging for ridicule…

…or at least a hearty smack down by the Grammar Police.

First, the overuse of the word “rather” – 3 times, 2 sentences.

Then, “diseased” instead of “deceased” – Wow. Just. Wow.

But this:

I understand that the complexities of two-syllable words might just be too much but seriously, can’t you figure out “I” versus “Me”???????????????????

Come on, Grammar 101, folks.