Strong Women

Watching West Wing on Netflix last night and my daughter didn’t realize that “CJ” (the press secretary) stood for Claudia Jean. I happen to really like the name and decided to use it for something. I started writing, it’s been a while, and I came up with what’s below. I really like the first paragraph. I do not have a working title which is very unusual for me. As usual though, I have no direction or story in my head and I did start with only a charcter name.

I had started with a male lead character, a single dad. Then I thought to myself, I’ve been meaning to write a strong female character, so I changed it. This would match the character of CJ Craig anyway, as she was quite the strong woman on West Wing.

There’s also a quote by a screen writer, I can’t remember who, Joss Whedon maybe, who when asked why he always wrote strong women characters, he replied, “because you keep asking me that question.” I keep talking to myself about writing a book that only has women characters, I need to just do it.

Below is what I started, I like it so far and, for the time being, will probably continue with it.

Hope you enjoy.

The tide rose and fell as it always had. The air was fresh with rain residue, and the sun was squeaking through the gray clouds with splashes of glittering light hitting the golden sand. It was exquisitely beautiful in its simplicity. It was a moment in time to worship mother earth. It was a moment to breathe in life. It was a moment to cry and release.

Claudia Jean Harper stood on the shore of her deceased parent’s summer home and cried until she could cry no more. They were tears of sadness. Claudia’s father had passed away when she was a young child.

Claudia Jean Harper, nicknamed CJ by her father the day she was born, had vague memories of the day her father died. She remembered coloring in the living room. She remembered it had been a rainy day which is why she was inside. She remembered a knock at the door, but mostly CJ remembered her mother screaming and falling into the policeman’s arms sobbing uncontrollably. That particular memory ran through the gardens of her mind at the most inopportune times. She felt weak when a tear escaped because of the damned memory, but in reality her strength was far deeper than she would ever know.

A drunk driver hit CJ’s father while he was crossing the street, on his way home from the pharmacy. It was just a two block walk and Oliver Harper thought it would be faster to walk than find parking on the street. Speed was of the essence as his little angel had an ear infection and was in pain. There was nothing worse than your child being in pain and the helpless feeling that ate away at the pit of your stomach.

Oliver had just left the store and noticed the traffic light on Main St. was red. Main St. would have been his usual route home, but to save even sixty seconds of time he decided to scoot through the Marsala Hardware store parking lot and cross on Broadway instead.

Nineteen-year-old Marty Babbish was driving his dilapidated 1967 fastback Ford Mustang, painted in primer gray. He had just come from Hannigan’s bar, where he had swallowed a bottle of scotch in a short amount of time. He had just lost his job and felt it was a mandatory rite of passage. Lou, the bartender, watched him stagger out of the bar onto the street. Out the window Lou watched as Marty fell twice before reaching his car across the street. Lou should have never let him leave the bar; he would regret that decision later in the day.

Marty swerved out of his parking space, side swiping a parked car as he accelerated down Broadway.  In three blocks he would be going over 90 miles per hour, and would run a red light, where Oliver Harper would be walking home with medication for his young daughter’s ear infection.

Oliver was thrown with such force that his body went through the hardware store window and knocked over a display rack of garden tools in the middle of the store. He was pronounce dead at the scene, and most likely died on impact of the windshield on his head.

Marty Babbish was released from the hospital on the day of Oliver’s funeral. He would be charged with vehicular manslaughter among other things. Lou the bartender would pay a hefty fine, get probation and lose the bar.

CJ remembered a lot of people coming to the house in the days following her father’s death. Much of it was a blur, she had only been five years old. There was a black dress, there was a lot of food, and there was a lot of crying.  Everyone kept hugging CJ and saying how sorry they were. It seemed endless, and for a five-year old it was completely overwhelming. What the adults did not understand was CJ’s frame of mind. A young mind that could not grasp the concept of death as adults did. Adults often did not think back to remember their own childhood experience’s before speaking with children.

A walk to remember

breast cancer walkFor many reasons I have been thinking about Lisa lately. One of the reasons, I’m not sure if I’m free to discuss, but the other reason she’s been on my mind is that twenty years ago this fall is when she was originally diagnosed. Two little words, “feel this,” changed our lives.

Many of you know that I have done three breast cancer walks in which I walked, with about 2,000 other people, 60 miles over three days. I did two in NY/NJ and one in Phoenix.

Something yesterday jogged my memory of two stories from the first two walks I decided to share.

After each day of walking we slept in two person tents that we setup after walking for the day. After the first day of walking in my first walk my tent mate had already set our tent up. I was grateful because I was sore and exhausted. I mentioned to him that I snore. He said it was no problem, he was a deep sleeper. The next morning, as we were folding up our tent, I asked him if I snored. Twenty women’s heads popped around us and said, “YES!”

The following year Ricki Lake walked with us. On the second morning I was up early and my tent was already folded and stowed, so I was walking around helping other people. I ran across Ricki Lake and helped her fold her tent. I held the bag while she put it in. She said, “is it in yet?” I responded, “am I going to hear that from 2,000 women today?” She paused, for what seemed like days, and then laughed until she almost coughed up a lung.

Twenty years… The time in between runs the gamete from unreal to surreal with none of it being at all real but all of it being realistic.

I think it’s time to let this realization come to an end.


Dear Rachel

On April 4th of this year I lost a friend, Rachel. I haven’t really thought too much about it, for a lot of reasons. There was a memorial service two weeks ago, which I didn’t attend. I had a previous commitment, and honestly, I wouldn’t have gone anyway due to a personal issue. I’m fairly certain Rachel would have understood, at least that’s how I justified it in my head. Regardless of what Rachel may have thought about it, she would have been blunt in her opinion.

When I was in my later teens or early twenties I remember a kid I went to school with died, I want to say his name was Tommy. I remember sitting at the dinner table, I can’t remember if I was still living at home or if it was laundry night, which was Tuesday.

I asked my dad how it happened, and he said Tommy ran across route 17, which was a highway, and was hit by a truck. I made a snide comment, something along the lines of, “Yeah, that sounds like something he’d do.” He’d always bullied me, and was over 250 pounds in school, how did he think he’d make it across a highway, I thought as I said it. There was no love lost for me.

I remember very clearly what my father said next. “Don’t speak ill of the dead.” I can still see his face through a cloud of cigarette smoke he blew out as he said it. I was kind of shocked, because my father spoke ill of everybody. Also, I thought, I wasn’t speaking badly, I was just speaking the truth.

I told that story, so I could say the next thing. Rachel was a big friggin pain in the ass. I get to say that, because I am president of that particular club, and I don’t mean the local chapter, I mean globally. She was loud, abrasive, had no filter of any kind, and you were going to listen to her opinion whether you liked it or not, and whether you wanted to hear it or not. She spewed sewer vocabulary from her potty mouth that could make this Jersey boy blush. Her use of the word fuck was unparalleled in any arena or mob movie. I’d want her on my side in a bar fight.

That was Rachel, but not all of her of course. I don’t see anything wrong in remembering the whole person. And those of you that knew her nodded your head in agreement, and probably smiled, at the previous paragraph. 

She was also sweet with a heart of gold behind the brick facade. She loved animals, especially horses and her cat. She was like that pain in the butt sister you have to love except I chose her instead of her being foisted upon me by some horny, unthinking parents. Sometimes, I wouldn’t hear from her for weeks, and then I’d get ten texts in a row every day for a week when there were boyfriend problems (sorry Joe…).

We met at the Freethinkers group I belong to. Funny thing is, I actually asked her out once, just after we met, about three years ago I guess. Then, I was away from the group for about three months, and there she was dating Joe when I got back. Oh well, we would have killed each other anyway. 

I bring up the Freethinkers because I hosted a potluck, we have them monthly, and somebody in the group hosts. She was complaining about the music, touching my computer to change it, she turned on the TV, etc. etc. I was really annoyed, until I watched her at other potlucks. She didn’t do that. It struck me, that maybe she was just comfortable in my house, and with our relationship, that she thought she could just go ahead and do those things. I wasn’t annoyed any more after that, and saw her, us, a little differently.

Rachel was an acquired taste. I won’t miss her every single day, but overall I will think of her often, and I will smile every time I hear a strong woman flinging expletives out like baseballs on opening day. Did I mention she loved baseball?

I’ve been writing this in my head since the day I found out she died. Not sure why I chose today to put it to paper. It did feel good writing it though. Rachel would have laughed and pouted, but mostly she would have corrected my grammar.

Our birthdays were just a few days apart, that was part of our little bond. It wasn’t a deep, life-long kinship, it was only a short time, but we understood each other and that worked.

So, to my birthday buddy, I hope you sleep well and long, but mostly, I hope you have found your peace.

If you see Audrey, say hello for me. 


The Man at the Table

man outside table
There he sat,
At the table,
Thoughts on her,
In the kitchen.

There he stood,
Outside the door,
Afraid to knock,
He looked in the window.

The man at the table,
The man outside,
The love inside,
The loss outside.

At the table he stayed,
Away from the window he walked,
Inside, life went on,
Outside, life stopped.

The belief in deep,
Misplaced faith in the world,
Funny thing is,
He thought it really would work out…

Wrong, yet again.


Love is…

Hand HeartOne of my favorite things as a kid was reading the Sunday comics. I would always be the first one up, and have the paper spread out on the living room floor, and always comics first.

I was thrilled when I discovered one day that there were comics in the daily paper too. One of the strips I discovered in the daily paper was Love Is… In high school I started cutting out my favorite ones, and taping them up on the wall next to my bed.

About ten years ago a friend of mine asked me how you knew you were in love. Not an easy answer, and it’s different for every one. After two relationships and two deaths, I’ve discovered a few things.

There’s a feeling of love, sure, but that’s only the beginning. You think about the significant other all the time, you miss them, it’s electric when you touch them, yada, yada, yada, all the usual things. This is not love. It may be the beginnings of it, but not always, and not fully.

They may not be as romantic as the comic, they’re more realistic,  but here’s my very short, very partial list of Love is…

  • …giving the kids a bath so your partner can sit down.
  • …running interference with relatives.
  • …being awoken in the middle of the night by an infant who has just puked up a week’s worth of meals. One of you cleans up the baby, one of you cleans up the crib, and you go back to bed, not having spoken a word.
  • …cleaning the snow off your partner’s car.
  • …a Scrabble move.
  • …listening intently.
  • …hugging your partner instead of choking them like you want to.
  • …waiting patiently.
  • …shaving your head.
  • …holding their hand when they take their last breath.

You also need to ask yourself some questions you probably never thought about before. Of course, you have already asked yourself, “Do I want to spend the rest of my life with this person?” That’s a very open ended, vague and obtuse question to think about and comprehend.

On the outside, sure, it may seem like an easy enough question, especially when you’re young, stupid, and inexperienced. However, what you real need to think about are things like this:

  • If this person gets sick do I want to take care of them?And I don’t mean the flu. I mean stroke, paralysis, life altering sicknesses.
  • Do you realize they’re going to change? Five years from now, ten years from now, you will be married to a different person than you thought. The rub there, so will they.
  • Where do you want to live? You would think that would be an easy one, but you would be wrong.
  • Do you know what your partner wants to be doing in the future? Do you know what you want?

These are just a few things to consider, there are more things to think about, good and bad.

I told my friend some of these, or at least similar ones, and to my surprise (OK, not really surprise), he proposed to his girlfriend the next day.

Ten years, two kids later, I’m pretty sure they both still think it’s a good thing.

I do too.


The dating game

Being single really, really sucks a lot of the time.

Over the years I’ve discovered that dating sites are just a faster, more efficient way of being rejected. I suppose from a distance is better than in person.

So, I’ve decided to craft a little comparability test, to narrow the scope of candidates.

Here we go.

1. You think pets are _______________.

A. your children

B. are adorable, your Facebook page is full of cat memes

C. for dinner

D. for other people

2. Where are these from?

“Everyday is lesbian lover day!”

“It’s nine o’clock on a Saturday”

“Gibbs, Gibbs, Gibbs!”

“Do you always talk with your mouth full?”, “Only when I’m eating.”

“Daddy, I got cider in my ear.”


“I’m gonna wreck it!”

“88 miles per hour!”

“Yada, yada, yada.”

“Let’s be careful out there.”

3. Superman is from?

A. Jersey

B. Jupiter

C. Krypton

D. Alpha Centuri

3a. Bonus – Superman’s name is?

A. Clark Kent

B. Jor-el

C. George Reeves

D. Kal-el

4.  The greatest city on earth is?

A. Paris

B. New York

C. London

D. Gotham

5. You know that the sentence, “They’re over there with their parents, going to the show at two, too,” is correct.

A. True

B. False

6.  God is, ___________.

A. real, why aren’t you in church?

B. real on Easter and Christmas

C. I’m not entirely sure

D. the biggest farce pulled on mankind in all of human history

7. Your political views are?

A. Conservative, gun toting, religious zealot, tight ass in nature

B. Not A

C. I live in an underground bunker awaiting the new world revolution

D. L. I. B. E. R. A. L.

8. The outdoors is ____________.

A. fabulous! I live in the wide open, hunting and living off the land

B. hiking is OK once in while, maybe the occasional camping trip

C. I get fresh air when I go to the mailbox

D. the sun will melt me

9. Sarcasm is __________________.

A. a way of life, it runs through my veins, and is at the core being of my values

B. mean

C. very sexy…

D. an excellent form of communication

10. What’s the best?

A. Sunrise

B. Sunset

C. Full moon

D. Thunderstorm

None of the answers really matter, if you hit it off and connect. Sometimes you don’t connect right away or in the way you thought you might, but it still works out anyway after a few tries.



Joe College

Joe CollegeAlmost everyday I look at my life, and think about how different it might be if I had gone to college.

After graduating high school, I was not ready for college at all. I did not exactly have the best role models for the college experience either. That didn’t help.

My father did not go to college. After high school, he joined a union to become an electrician. He was not a very good student in his younger days. Nothing wrong with that, the world needs trades people just as equally as anybody else, and it seemed to suit him.

My mom was going to school when she met my dad. She quit after two years to marry him. She was going for teaching. Even with her having some time in college, she wasn’t much of an influence.

I’m fairly certain, that if I had gone away to school, I would have been chewed up and spit out in the first week. Dorm life would not have been kind to me. Nerds were not as valued then as they are now. I missed the boat on that one (that seems to happen a lot, wrong place, wrong time). I was better off in basic training where somebody was always telling me what to do.

After I washed out of basic I did go to Ramapo College for one semester, and I hated it. I was not prepared for the workload, and I was especially not prepared for the self-discipline needed for college level classes. I skated through high school with no plans for the future, and no guidance.

Not knowing anyone was a big issue for me as well. High school was full of familiar people. College was a whole new world of individuals and meeting them was not my forte.

As the years wore on, I did take more  classes, online and classroom, not in any particular order. Ranging from accounting to information technology. I never did finish. I’ve considered going back, but even with all the classes I’ve taken I’m still not close to any particular degree, and I just don’t have the energy to put in the necessary time at this point in my life.

I get dizzy thinking about reading textbooks, and having to write papers after a full day of work. Plus, there are always group projects where someone does not carry their weight, and I can’t go away for murder just yet.

I’m so glad my boys are already done with school. I hate how much debt they’re in, but at least they have their degrees.  Just one more kid to go.

Maybe I will find the energy someday, maybe.

For now, just getting up every morning will have to do, and the school of hard knocks is forever accepting.


Time off

time-machine-1I Unexpectedly took about a month off from writing. Felt very beat up by life starting mid February, and I didn’t want to complain about it, so I decided to let the writing slide.

This space is many different things for me depending on the day. Sometimes it’s a soapbox, sometimes it’s a commercial and sometimes it’s a silent plea for help that no one recognizes. I don’t want it to be a place to bitch, but at the same time, there is a certain therapy in that.

Quick over view, unexpectedly single again, flat tire, speeding ticket, personal issue at home, worried about job stability (hours cut, literally, just several hours ago), worried about financial stability, more writing rejections/issues. A lot of things just came right in a row, like multiple waves you just can’t get away from, and the safety of the shore looks so close, yet so far away.

Things have leveled off some, mostly just because of time passed. The situations themselves are mostly still the same, but things move ahead.

I started close to ten posts over the last month, just so I wouldn’t forget the ideas. So, there may be a steady stream of thoughts (term very loosely used…) in the near future. Part time job is probably in my future, so I’m not sure how that will work out, we’ll just have to see.



That’s creepy

I’m taking advantage of a moment. A moment that almost never occurs. An inspiration to write when I’m actually in a position to write. A much better position than writing in my head, and forgetting later, which is the norm. “Norm!” Cheers fans nod your heads.

I had time to kill (I dislike that phrase, not sure why I use it) after work, and before picking up the kidoodle. So, what did I do? That’s right, I sat in Starbucks. You may all have a cookie. Calm down Becca, I had a small, regular coffee. She was about to yell out, “No fair!” I’m sure of it.

This Starbucks is in a grocery store, so there are people about all over, especially now, after work. I’m sitting by a window, so I can see a good portion of the parking lot.

Creepy Eyes

A pretty women left the store, not that I usually notice those kinds of things. I watched her walk across the parking lot to her car. I wondered if she knew she was being watched. Of course she didn’t know. I had a secret…


That got the writing juices flowing. That path could go a hundred different ways. Writing for Jimmy Vincent is great, because I can let the sarcastic flag fly high and proud, but writing, creepy, shocky, edge of the seat, I can’t believe-he-wrote that, is even more fun.

I have a project started, which I will eventually get back to, that both the boys read, and said, it was disturbing. Now, I’m not sure if they actually found it disturbing or if they were just disturbed that I wrote it. Either way, I was pleased with the reactions.

I’m going to go with the above a little more, and see what comes out…


A pretty women left the store, not that I usually notice those kinds of things. I watched her walk across the parking lot to her car. I wondered if she knew she was being watched. Of course she didn’t know.

I had a secret…

I had many secrets. I shared my secrets with women I met in parking lots. Sometimes they want to tell my secrets, but I don’t let them. Sometimes they’re nice, and talk to me if I tell them my secret. They never want to talk for long though.

The pretty woman got in her car and drove off. Guess she won’t know my secret, not today at least. She was new. I had not seen her before. Many of the pretty ladies in the store I see a lot.

They never see me, I’m invisible. Nobody every sees me. I smile at women, and they stare right through me. I nod at them politely, and get ignored. I open my mouth, and they say fuck off , with their cold eyes, before I even speak.


I finished my shopping. The pretty lady at the register asked why I bought so many moth balls. “It’s a secret,” I told her. She stopped seeing me after that. Maybe I would wait around, and tell her my secret when she left work.

Walking to my car there were woman everywhere. They were all pretty. I could watch any one of them, and they would never know. I could follow any one of them, and they would never know.

I was invisible.

I had a secret…

The sun was strong on this early February day, and the temperature was above normal. A pretty woman, a young woman, walked by in a too tight tube top and Daisy Dukes. It was too cold for that outfit, but she didn’t care. It was obvious, she wanted to know my secret. She said so by making my secret thing move with her clothes, and her body shaking all over like that.

When my secret thing moved, I knew women wanted to know my secret. It moved a lot, but there were too many women. It was confusing. My mother is the one who told me about my secret thing. She said, I should always keep it a secret. Especially, about what she used it for. My mother used it a lot.

Dropping my bags in the bed of my truck, I followed the young, pretty lady into the store. Today was her lucky day, she was going to learn a secret, and she wasn’t ever going to tell anyone else.

I had a secret…


Cloudy with a chance of art

I Love clouds. I have my head in the clouds much of the time anyway, so it just stands to reason.


I knew clouds existed since I saw them for the first time, whenever that was. The first time I really saw them though, the very first time, I was about seven years of age. It was on a camping trip in the Adirondacks, probably in July. We were fishing, my brother, my father and I.

It was a row boat which was rented from the campground.  Every year we would rent a boat, and my father would make my brother and I row it to the campsite, while he yelled, “Stroke! Stroke! Stroke!” through cupped hands any time an audience presented itself. He was not funny. We eventually got a small outboard motor several years later.

I remember it was a blustery day, but not surface winds, high winds. I was lying back in the boat, the fish were not biting at all. Looking up at the clouds, I could see them moving across the sky as the wind pushed them around. What I had never seen before was the clouds change shape, right there before my eyes. I was mesmerized.

When the wind is whipping around like that, the clouds dance to a different beat. One cloud changing on its own or several clouds merging to form compound shapes. I still look in wonderment at my current age. I wish I had more time now to lay down and watch the clouds go by.

I see things in the clouds all the time. Shapes, animals, faces, super heroes, all kinds of things. Some stay longer than others. Some change and morph, right there, into other things while I’m watching.

I have an idea about photography mixed with art. I have at least two friends who have the skills for it (ya know, those freaking friends who are just good at whatever they do…), and I don’t know if it’s been done before. My thought is, photograph clouds where you see shapes. Print the photos and then outline the shapes, in ink, paint, pencil, whatever the artist likes. Not too much detail, maybe some subtle shading, the cloud should be the star. Just an idea.

Ironically there are no clouds outside right now. Just blue sky. A completely blank canvas.

A completely blank page.

That’s the best kind…

TTFN… (I think I found my sign off…)