The Prescription *

 

My friend Jill posted a picture of Steve Bannon on Facebook with his quote, “Birth control makes women unattractive and crazy.” Jill’s comment was “Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!” My response was “hash tag medical marijuana.”steve bannon devil

I was kidding when I wrote it. But on Tuesday afternoon at 4:30, as the sun skidded the sky with Caribbean color, I pulled into a strip mall in Wilmington, off Pacific Coast Highway, for an appointment to get my prescription. Five storefronts lined the parking lot. A liquor store and the medical clinic were the only two that weren’t vacant, and a guy with his hands in his pockets loitered in a shadowy corner. I thought about driving away, but I got out of the car, put my purse on my shoulder and walked to a door with white block lettering: PCH Medical Clinic.

The office was cold. The walls were ghost white. My boots clicked on the dark brown parquet floors.

“Hi,” I said to the twenty-something girl sitting at a desk in a small office behind a window. “I called earlier.”

She looked up at me and smiled. “I’ve never done this before,” I said. I’d googled medical marijuana doctors. This place had 5 1/2 stars on Yelp.

The girl gave me some forms to fill out. I checked off the symptoms anxiety, stress and insomnia, and ticked depression and back pain for good measure. I signed several waivers promising not to drive under the influence or operate heavy machinery, and not to sell, redistribute or share my marijuana.

When I gave her my completed paperwork, I noticed an ATM in the corner. “Do you take credit cards?”

“No,” she said. “The appointment is $50 cash, if you have the coupon. It’ll be $65 without it. You’ll need cash for the dispensary, too.” I got $200 from the machine.

I didn’t wait more than five minutes before she called for me. As I followed her into the back I heard the ring of a Skype call. She brought me into an office with an oak desk. On it sat a computer monitor and a mouse.

“He’s not here?” I said.

She wiggled the mouse, connected the call and walked out of the room, closing the door behind her. I sat down and smiled at myself in the small box at the bottom of the screen, pale in my black Equinox t-shirt. My mouth was dry. I put my purse on my lap and folded my hands over it.

“Hello,” said a face on the screen. He was bald, shiny and overexposed. He wore a white lab coat and looked up at me through gold wire-framed glasses. I took him to be in his early 70s. “Can you hear me?” he asked.

“Yes, hello.”

“So.” He looked down at the forms twenty-something girl must have faxed to him. “How long have you had insomnia?”

“On and off for a couple of months.” I lied.

“And you have some back pain?” He was writing.

“My lower back,” I said. That was true, I’d just come from the chiropractor.

“How long have you been depressed?”

One of the definitions for depression is low in spirits. Another is vertically flattened. I felt both. My anxiety was real. But I didn’t want him to think I needed a shrink and meds or I wouldn’t get my weed.

I made the decision to get the prescription after a white delivery truck barreled toward me in traffic that morning. I had to swerve and jump a lane to get out of its trajectory. That’s when I burst. I couldn’t stop crying. The level of the swamp out there is getting high and there’s a riptide pulling me out to sea. I didn’t want to cry here, in front of the Skype Doctor, let my guard down. I needed to be calm. Explain in a mature tone that I just needed a little soft focus.

“Here’s the thing,” I said. “I’m not officially depressed. It’s more like I’m stressed.” I paused. He kept writing. I didn’t want to say the wrong thing. I wanted to be cool. “It’s not like I want to be stoned all the time. I mean I heard that there’s this stuff that just takes the edge off, you know, without being super stoney.” My heart skipped and slipped into my stomach. I felt awkward. I looked at myself on the screen and took a breath. Tried to gather my thoughts. Stay calm.

“The truth is,” I said, “this election, well, the outcome and everything has me really freaked out.” Shit, I didn’t mean to say that. What if he voted for the guy? He could be one of those people that says, “Hey we put up with Obama for eight years and we survived.”

A penny lay on the desk by the monitor. If a penny lands heads up, its good luck. If it’s tails, I flip it over, give someone else a chance to find a little luck. I needed some luck. These days, everyone I care about, that I’m close to, can use a little luck. A little softness. A little kindness. A little ease. Luck that lets you know you’ll be fine. Everything will be okay. Gives solace. The kind of luck that’s light. Light like compassion, peace, hope. I reached for the penny. Tossed it. Tails. I flipped it over.

The doctor stopped writing and looked up at me. I hoped he’d give me my prescription and I could buy some liquid miracle and a vape pen. Some Acapulco gold, purple haze or amnesia. That’s what I needed.

“Tell me about it” he said. “These are some crazy times.” He smiled a soft smile. “You can pick up your prescription at the front desk.”

“That’s it?”

“Yes,” he said, and the call was disconnected. I took a deep breath and exhaled for what felt like the first time in weeks.* medicalm

* Previously Published in Writers Resist

Journal Entry: August 31, 2014

Journal Entry:  August 31, 2014

 

I had a good childhood.

me and dad Maui, maybe 79 or 80

Me and Dad Maui Circa 79 or 80

I grew up on movie sets. My Dad was a Production Manager back when you broke down a script using colored cardboard strips. Wemoved from New York to Beverly Hills. “Stepford Wives” was in the can but I still got to brush Katherine Ross’ strawberry blonde hair and help her bake cookies in her Malibu kitchen. I loved how her bathing suit bottoms never matched her tops.  When my Dad was working on “Murder by Death” he arranged for me to meet Angie Dickenson and Earl Holliman. “Police Woman” was my favorite show and it was a way bigger deal than meeting David Niven, Truman Capote or Maggie Smith. Although it was pretty neat to watch Colombo rehearse the same line over and over and over again.

It wasn’t just me. My Dad brought lots of people up in the movie business. He got them jobs, got them training, got them in the union.

Then the script took a dark turn. An unexpected diagnosis. A first surgical procedure doesn’t go as planned. Lake Arrowhead-chemo-recovery-weekends and my Dad’s healthy vital glow mask the executioner. A Second surgery and still Cancer drills deep and takes root.

All scenes led to that final diagnosis.
Seven days left to say goodbye.

“Did you get the shot?” He asked. From his bedside at Cedars, I could see the Hollywood sign, white against the Indian summer hillside.  I held his hand. It felt heavy.

“We did.” I replied.

Cut. Print. That’s a wrap.

That was 1988.

Man of Destiny

Roger M. Rothstein

It took a bit of time, but now I can feel into the gift that is my father. Not just my gift–I still get emails, letters and Facebook posts: I miss him every day; I found a picture of him; There was no one quite like Roger.

I can look in the mirror and see him in the round of my face, the beauty mark on my cheek and my dark hair and eyes. His energy courses through my veins as I negotiate with a tough client.

If my father weren’t where he is, somewhere out there, I wouldn’t be where I am now.  Who knows, maybe he is here, hovering over my right shoulder as I type.

This is my life.

Happy Birthday Dad.

Hello Moon**

Journal Entry:  August 11, 2014

 

full moon morning

Full Moon Morning

I stepped out onto the back porch this morning and looked up to see the moon, still full, setting in the sky. I don’t recall a full moon ever on an August 11th, but that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t ever happened.

Today is my birthday.

“What a nice surprise.” I tell the moon.

“Sure thing!” He says.  “Happy Birthday!”

“Thank you.” I say

That moon-man smiling down on me, greeting me on my special day, makes me think about how long I have been here. I couldn’t count the number of times I’ve looked up and smiled at him in my five decades and one year.

I had my coffee, my vanilla protein shake with an organic peach and I wrote in my journal.  I left the house happy.  I drove through emptier-than-normal-for-a-Monday streets and parked in the almost vacant lot by my spinning studio.  I was greeted upstairs with smiles and birthday wishes.

During class, our instructor Mandy said, “Grab your water and grab your breath.” I don’t know if she meant to say grab, but that’s what I heard.

I looked over the parking lot, to the palm trees and couldn’t help but think about the word.  Grab.

What have I grabbed for in my life? What else will I reach for and grab? I grab a ripe Meyer lemon from our tree in the back yard — twist and pull.  I pluck opportunities as they ripen on their vines. What will I reach for next?

At 51, I am still like a child that picks and chooses what to discover and explore next.  Although, I haven’t had to grab for that much; the important, life-changing things come to me.

I get clear.
I ask.
I let go.
I receive.

It seems easy and in a way it is, but there is the work of getting clear and letting go, sometimes it can be a challenge. Although, at this place it isn’t as much work as it was when I was in another place.

That’s what happened with Bill.  It’s not that we didn’t reach for each other.  We did.  It’s how we came to be within each other’s reach, in that particular instant, that I find interesting.

I’ve written about it many times, it was as simple as that.

Why does the moon smile down on me?
Why did Bill and I get swaddled together in that moment?
Why am I blessed with this life?

I don’t know that I have answers for these questions.  I may never.  I’m good with that.  I’ll unwrap full moon birthday wishes, and magic instead of answers.

Happy Birthday to Me!

 

** Excerpt from the book that I am currently writing.

 

 

Submission Guidelines

 

“No poems about your morning coffee.”

But I love mine.

It’s organic,

French Roast,

expensive.

I prepare it the night before.

I think about how

the black liquid

will turn tan

when it mixes with the ½ and ½

on the bottom of my mug.

How I will stand at the kitchen sink,

look out the window

purse my lips

and sip.

 

Maybe that editorwoman-drinking-coffee_300

doesn’t understand

the hint of jasmine

on a spring evening,

the brush of your lover’s

finger on your thigh,

or the perfect cup

of coffee

kissing you full

smack on your lips

each morning.

My Breath (Dedicated to ‘the exercise’)

IMG_0094

 

 

Catch your breath, Katina says, her voice bellows above the music.

Catch my breath?

My breath lifts up, flies through the glass door, out over the cars in the lot, flows onto PCH, makes a right, then another, and heads off toward the beach.  I watch her, music trailing behind a kaleidoscope of color and sound swirling and circling up and down in and out behind her.

I imagine her swan dive off the Esplanade.  My breath flutters away, floating off to Hawaii or Fiji or somewhere out in the South Pacific.  Some exotic island where I might not be able to catch her.

Stretched out in the sand, bronzed golden with vacation and tropical umbrellas and sweet ice blended rum, white, pink, blue liquid chill that calms and cools and warms her body from the inside. The sun beaming down warming her from the outside.  The breeze lifts up off the water, tickles her toes and the bottom of her feet, moves up her calves, shins and settles in the well between her thighs.vacation to cayman 099

She has hung a sign. It dangles from my chest, gone fishing.  She’s sleeping in.  She’s strolling the beach.  She’s sarong wrapped, coconut oiled, topless, hammock napping, afternoon love making, wave lapping, sun set watching, dancing the night away.

Maybe my breath walks along the canals in Venice. In and out of bricked passage ways only she could fit through.

Maybe my breath sips hot chocolate in Paris and watches the women walk the streets, contemplating styles and fashion. She’s learning French. Uh oh, what if she’s taken up smoking?

Maybe my breath rides on the back of a donkey in Santorini, riding up to the Principal Town Fira. Sun shining, reflecting off white and blue and cobblestone and water.  Why come back?

santoriniWhat if she never comes back? My breath has left me here peddling, legs pushing, pulling, up down up down around and around and around up down around, my heart goes ba boom ba boom ba boom and the tick tock of the clock and the music pounds b aba ba boom b aba ba boom b aba ba boom and my ba boom and the b aba ba boom up down around and around and one two one two one two.

This is your recovery, Katina says.  The music plays on. I feel my chest push out, ribs expand, back fan, as my breath fills my lungs and I am happy that she’s come back to me.

The Other Side of the Arno

 

Write the words.  Don’t force the meaning.  Let the words string themselves together to from sentences and maybe a thought or an idea will present itself. This is what I tell myself.  Write the words. Let them chisel themselves from blocks of letters.  Write the words.  Take away what isn’t needed, let the essence emerge. Easier said than done, it’s a practice.

Michelangelo did that with marble.  He didn’t use molds or an outline. Instead he chiseled away the excess stone and allowed his figures to emerge.  He formed sculptures that are beyond words.  Pictures don’t do them justice.

Bill and I have plenty of pictures of our trip to Italy.  We don’t look at them as much as we talk about the trip, the food, the people, the ruins, the architecture, the color, the art.  We savor the essence of our trip to Italy.

Two mornings in a row, we were among the first people on line at the Accademia Gallery and the Uffuzi Gallery.  Bill didn’t want to wake up early and I didn’t want to spend most of my day waiting in line to buy tickets to museums.

“I’ll set the alarm so we don’t have to wait on line.” I said to Bill. We were drinking the local vernaccia wine and eating bread at a café inpiazza cafe the Piazza della Signoria. We chose this café from all the others in the Piazza because the waiter looked like Bill’s brother Steve.  Really, can you choose a bad café in Florence?  It was unseasonably warm for April and we sat in the shade. We watched the people walk by and found it interesting how over dressed people were for such a hot day.  They were bound and determined to wear their leopard print pants, leather coats and boots, tan, purple and even mustard yellow suede.  We have way too many pictures of overdressed tourists walking the streets of Italy.  We’d pretend to take pictures of each other, but zoom in on the hot, tired looking overdressed tourists.   I was looking at my Florence, Italy travel book. I brought travel books for each stop in Italy and I would leave them behind in our hotel rooms so other people could use them.  The book recommended reservations or just get to the museum early to avoid the lines.

“No. I don’t need to wake up early on vacation to see David, I’ve seen pictures,” he said.

Sometimes I think Bill says no just to hear himself say no. Having the discussion is a choice. Depending on the topic, like a talk about money can become heated. In the end, we come to resolution, an understanding of each other’s point of view, but we look at things in our own way.  Bill is smart with money, he is practical, grounded and I have a tendency to assume that we’ll be okay no matter what. Both are important, but sometimes our views can clash.  Something like this, whether or not to wake up, that’s mostly ridiculous banter.  A yes no yes no yes no of playful bickering. Italy isn’t a sleep on the beach type of vacation though, there’s too much to see.  There has to be a balance between scheduling and exploring.  I’d rather be early and have the afternoons to wander and explore Florence.

The day before we did that. We crossed the Ponte Vecchio Bridge with throngs of people and walked beyond the crowds on the other side other side of arnoof the Arno River. It was quiet.  It felt as if we were the only two people in Florence. Dappled sunlight through trees, high walls securing themselves around buildings and homes leading us along the curved road, blue sky, warm sun, breezes, the click snap whir of the camera. An occasional car would whiz by and the leaves would lift up and float back to the asphalt. That walk away from tourists, and cars, and shopping and crowds. That walk, me and Bill, our voices drifting above the walls up to the sky. That walk, unplanned exploration, peaceful, springtime bloom moment in time, moment in memory, a moment that although I might not remember each exact step or every carved piece of marble or stone that brought us to the Piazzale Michelangelo and the Church of San Miniato al Monte, I remember the feeling.  I remember the color. I remember the pale pinks of worn stone, the many shades of green contrasting the blue and white sky, the worn narrow road.  That walk, an experience that carved itself, grooving bursts of color and texture into a tiny portion of my mind. That walk, on the other side of the Arno.

“You’ve seen it in pictures?” I said.  He makes me laugh. “Why even leave the hotel room? I’m setting the alarm.” I said.

“Okay Mrs. Plan-o”. He was smiling and rolling his eyes.

Early the next morning we walked through the Academy Museum.

“Pictures don’t do it justice.” I said to Bill.

Muscled legs, arms and torsos, sculpted chins, cheeks, noses pulling themselves from the metamorphic rock that lined the halls of the michelangelounfinishedcaptive1527-1528museum.  Our marriage is like this museum, decorated with artifacts, ruins, souvenirs, images, moments, events, memories that line the halls we walk together, hand in hand, on kaleidoscopic days.

Marriage is like a block of marble.  We carve into it; chisel it into a shape, a living breathing creation formed from time.  Moments standing in front of The Birth of Venus, the brilliance of the colors, the drape of fabric, hair lifted by a breeze, soft curves, moments of walking through Florence to the other side of the Arno, letting the Italian smells, sounds and tastes permeate our membranes, moments strung together like a string of pearls; births, deaths, weddings, bickering, crying, laughing, love making, birthdays, graduations, loss, love, joy, pain, letting go, celebration.

Seeing Michelango’s David is one of the moments that we added to our Jewelry Box.

We were looking up at him.  David, with his furrowed brow, eyes focused off to the distance, tense, sling held in his huge left hand, positioned, ready for battle under the dome. We were standing amongst the circle of heads also admiring his stature.  Murmurings and astonished sighs swirled around the smooth stone man.  Michelangelo carved his masterpiece, chiseled the marble until he discovered the form within the stone.

david furrowed brow“You know, once you’ve seen it in a picture, it’s really no big deal.” Bill said.

I leaned into him, reached up and kissed his cheek. “Yeah, right hun, just like our marriage.”

 

Journal Entry May 15, 2013   7:23am

I Have Written A Book

 

Let go

The voice floats in through a speaker, or from the car next to me, or maybe it’s the bird sitting on my shoulder, Live in the moment.  The voice sings, murmurs really. Her soft lips tickle my ear, her breath, my neck and her words fall down my spine.

Let go

The breeze lifts me out of the car, the roof opens, peels itself back, I lift up to the blue and the white cotton clouds.  The sun, bright-orange-glowing-smiling, down on me, reaches her tentacles, pointing toward the ocean.  I feel the breeze kissing my belly, my thighs, my shoulders, my cheeks, she moves me, placing me on the shore.   The dolphins leap high to the clouds.

Let go

They Dolphin speak,

Let go

My words fall into place.  Splayed out, legs spread, arms open, back arched, heart beating.  My words rejoice.

Let go.

My heart, broken, mended, healed, scarred, my alive heart.  I watch my heart, lift and soar and the sun’s tapered fingers cradle her.  I am amazed by the contrast of Sun’s orange fingers and my red melting heart.  My love oozes.

The beach glows soft-heart red.  MY open heart.  And the sand is my page and my words, my words, my words, spill onto that page. as simple as that cover Yellow, polka-dot, blue, purple, striped, lavender, rainbow, black and white, my words, paint the page and the beads of sand slip between my fingers and we are there, on the page, me and my heart.

We are bound together, my words, my heart, my poetry.
The page is a live. It is a life. A life lived. A life — on the page.

Let go.
Let the words speak for themselves.
Let go.

I have written a book.

 

** I have written a book of Poetry.  Check it out here! 

 

i was born this way

 

i was born this way
i didn’t make the choice
it just happened
it’s how i look at the world

in detail

in the blink of an eye

in the way moon slips into the ocean
silver ripples
on a black sheen

in the lovers glance
the electricity
they transmit
to each other
alone in a room
filled with other people
how can I not feel
that tingle spark
tickle up and down my spine?
how can I not remember?

i didn’t wake up one day
in second or seventh grade or even ninth
and decide

i didn’t even realize

i just knew what I felt
that i was permeable
i drink each experience
i grow full and heavy
with word

people will ask me
-what do you do?-
such a vague and familiar question

i breathe words
i exhale
onto a page

i answer
-i am a poet
i was born this way-

 

moonset

Moments

 

I saw the color of the earth reflecting off treeshugemoon

and sky and night.

The moon called out to me.

Sun was gone.

Day slept.

I sat wide-eyed.

My heart stopped singing.

Life is still.

It fills itself like a lung or balloon

with air or grief or joy or emptiness.

My self knew this

until the silence rose

like mist

from my chest.

I knew then

each moment mattered

until now.

 

 

 From my upcoming book, to be published soon.

Agape

AGAPE

  • Selfless love of one person for another without sexual implications.

  • The love of God for humankind. In the New Testament, it refers to the covenant love of God for humans, as well as the human reciprocal love for God; … extends to the love of one’s fellow man.
  • In Ancient Greek, it often refers to a general affection or deeper sense of “true love” rather than the attraction suggested by “eros”. 

I want to write about AGAPE. I hear lots of preachers preaching AGAPE, well they’re preaching, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t AGAPE.

I want to make sense, be readable, be fair, open minds, open hearts. I write and write and write and you know what? It’s a lot of pressure and even more crap.

“Honey?” I call to Bill. He’s in the garage varnishing a piece of wood, watching the sanded mahogany transmute to a deep cherry. Man In A Box hovers in the Sunday August afternoon, winding around his head, it catches wind, liquefies in the yard.   [Read more…]