Wwhoooshh

I’ve been writing a short short story a day for eleven weeks, I am doing this as a participant in a Round Robin at The Writer’s Salon in San Francisco. I now have 77 stories. they are piling up so I have decided to share some here. Each day there is a prompt which starts me off. From there, anything goes. Rule is: one can only write for 12 minutes and can edit afterwards.

Two TREES on the edge of a cliff

~I’m tired of being here

~What do you mean you’re tired of being here? You can’t be tired of being here. You are a tree. We are trees. We’ve been here a long time.

~Right, & we’re supposed to be here for a long time to come, but I’m tired of it. Sorry, but I am even tired of you. You and I, all the time, here on the edge.

~It’s better than being on the edge alone, you know that.

~Right well, you got me there. UHG..this time of year…I hate the gray skin. I hate the nakedness of it all. Truth be told, I’m tired of the whole winter, spring, summer, fall thing. It’s same old same old all the time. So predictable. Nothing happens.

~Yeah, but you gotta admit in the winter we have a lot of fun and in the fall our leaves are the brightest, orange yellow-ish color anywhere on the planet other than some sunsets which never last very long.

~It’s true I like the splat contest. I like that we’re not on a farm and that the people who live near us hardly ever come at the right time to get our persimmons. I like how we play the game who can get the most splats in the day.

~True that’s a fun game but we always know at the beginning of the day how it’s gonna end. Always depending on WonderWind and what mood she’s in that day and the way she cares to gust, blows the surprise out of who wins on any given day she’s around.

~Yeah, But it’s super fun and she’s not always around being the deciding factor.

~True, but I’m tired of being taken for granted. We are saving these humans lives, and they are so busy they can’t even see or appreciate us. 

~Remember that time when people used to hug us?

~Yes, that was nice. I think the worst time was when that idiot Shel Silverstein wrote that book “The Giving Tree”. I mean what the fuck bullshit message was that? What was he doing? Trying to teach people how to have a dysfunctional relationship? 

~Yeah, I don’t think people read that to their kids as much as they used to.

~I hope not. If that guy walked under my tree, I would make for sure to have a big branch fall on his head giving him a headache for a couple decades. Better yet I’d have one of my roots trip him, so he’d fall off the edge a little bit, not so much as to kill him, but just enough to injure his right hand.

~Hey, wait a minute! hold on there! Why would you ever want to injure anyone? Those human beings are in such a mess. They are constantly injuring themselves! Directly or indirectly.

~Yes, I know it’s true. Even I, a species able to maintain complete equanimity feel sad for them. I wish there was some way I could help.

Just then a young woman comes up to the tree. She has a stool with her. She sets that down under the tree. Forlorn, she pulls a rope out of the bag she’s brought with her. Dejected, she stands for a long time at the edge overlooking the chasm. Is she considering jumping? What is she going to do with that rope? It’s for sure she’s not going to play with it. She has an agenda. She comes back to the stool, stands on it while she ties one rope end around the tree branch and the other around her neck.

WindWonder starts to gasp and move quickly around in a flurry. The trees start to wiggle and wobble in the wind. The girl pushes the stool out from under her. There is a moment inbetween, when WindWonder wooshes, and the wanting tree yearns. The branch breaks. It all falls down.

The young lady gasps “THANK GOD!” She lays down beneath the tree and looks through the intricate lace of the old grey naked branches. She watches the clouds in the sky pass one after the other. For the rest of the afternoon, she looks up through the maze of the tree’s pattern at the clouds changing shapes, appearing and dissolving moving across the endless sky.

She comes back many years later, with two small children, gets on a stool and hangs a swing.

The seamstress, the dress and the Ocean

There are clearly few, who are so talented as Connie WalkerShaw.

Today I pick up the dress she made for me from special  fabric that had been given to me when I was 35. I remember because it was given to  me by an older woman artist who shares my birthDAY and lives in a synagogue. She gave me the fabric when she was 70. She was twice my age. The fabric has gold threads in it. It is like a color shifting fairy tale fabric that changes from lavender to gold, hinting at rose.

I am late picking up the dress, so her lesson is already underway. I try on the dress which is magical and am ready to go. As I leave, I ask the student seamstress if she knows that Connie also is in a band and that she can play two saxophones at once? The little girl says a shy “no”. I smile, shrug, raise my eyebrows and say “well, she can” and leave.

After WalkerShaw I drive to the beach..   20120317-201932.jpg   Ocean Beach in San Francisco is like heaven. It is so empty and so nothing. I can see as far as I can see in three directions. My cells take in the empty vastness with relief. This hasn’t changed. I think then, have I changed? Each time I stand at Ocean Beach I remember other times I’ve stood before her. Before the ocean and cried out with my soul for all that I hope for. She solicits requests like that. The ocean is vastness itself. Before her, troubles shrink and expire, being obviously temporary. She emanates eternal presence, over and over, her waves sounding like a large echo of my internal self; of something that helps me let go and know.

It’s the same, and different. It always is.

Two solitary men pass me going one way; then an older couple passes the other way. That’s it. The beach’s nature to human ratio is nourishing, safe and separated from the highway by blocks and blocks of gorgeous graffiti, painted on the ocean side, I assume late at night.

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There are birds. That familiar seagull silhouette is everywhere; taking off and landing. I notice a particularly nice one but sense something odd about it. It’s the wrong size. I realize it’s outdoor art of some kind as it is not a real bird and even far away it reads clearly and I like the design so I walk towards it. It takes longer than I expect. Getting closer I see it’s a sign. Not a regular government sign but still it seems official. It says something like “strawberry ice plant sanctuary ends here”, yet there’s nothing but sand for miles.

 

The Lenses We See Through

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After talking with Ilana, whom I’ve just met at a party full of eclectic people, I am starting to wonder about her glasses. I don’t have on my glasses because I am not reading but, truth is, I should be wearing those progressives all the time as there are quite a few subtleties passing me by.

Ilana, a wildly talented San Francisco Art Institute grad student is talking about her hispanic childhood in LA and how she devoted twelve years of her life to throwing the discus. She’s got the body for it. She’s funny and is rambling on in a I’ve-got-this-conversation-covered kind of way. I’m fine with that and enjoying the ride as are my two teenagers. It’s Christmas eve and even the food is eclectic because a lot of the party works at Rainbow grocery, one of the first large co-op health food stores in the nation.

I am feeling friendlier and friendlier with Ilana as we get smushed closer together when still others feel there is enough room to sit down on the large couch.

I become more suspicious and say, “Let me see your glasses!”
She shies away and says, “No, you can’t see my glasses!” but in a smiling way.
“Come on, take them off”.
“I can’t see without them”.

Close enough now on the couch for almost anything I grab her glasses. There is no glass in them!

I comment on this and she says, “I’ve got a pair of sunglasses at home just like these”.
I say, “But there’s no glass in them!”
I’m liking her more than ever when she says, “I Know. They’re prescription!”

Museum exhibit

Walking through the exhibit at the museum, I have what I often have. An uneasy feeling.

I notice that the child gurgling is attracting more attention than the paintings, just for a second. Then the patrons go back to viewing the paintings. After the brief bleep of real life passes, art appreciation or faux appreciation, of art or faux art, resumes.

Two other children are with their parents in the exhibition. The goal of these kids is to move as quickly as possible. They are playing a game. Upon entering the new room, they look for the “EXIT” sign. As soon as parents allow, they follow it.

An older woman in a seventies medium brown pant suit severely limps. She steps with one leg and then drags the other one after her. She moves awkwardly along trying to catch up with her husband which she eventually does when he stops in front of a painting.

I am drawn to the work that is the early work. This work shows some artistic ability. The later work, before which people dutifully stand, seems to me not to deserve the stop of attention. It all seems like a case of the emperor’s new clothes.

I find myself at the end of the exhibit and I go backwards to the beginning. I see the exhibit a second time, to be sure of my judgement. I am giving the artist a second chance and I want to remember the few works that I do like. Having done that, I find I can not exit through the gift shop, therefore I go through the exhibit a third time. I stop a third time at the charcoal drawing of a seated woman in a striped dress which is my favorite work.

Upon this last viewing I realize this drawing reminds me of expensive clothing store ads from my childhood. Those days artists drew the objects for sale. They were good drawings.
The artists were not trying to prove anything. They were just making a living. They weren’t even called artists.

In the museum signage, the famous painter’s statement claims not to stop at the beautiful but to go deeper. To me deeper wasn’t deeper, it was just messier. No one else seems to feel this way. They stand reverently at what is presented to them by the esteemed institution.

In the museum rest room, while washing my hands, I peripherally watch a woman in front of the mirror. She keeps looking in the mirror like she is trying to fix something that can’t be fixed. She is looking at time in the mirror but can not see it. This is what she is doing.

Leaving San Francisco going over to Oakland in heavy traffic, I anticipate the change that happens after Treasure Island. The white wideness of the new half of the Bay Bridge is wonderful and uplifting to drive on. People on the side are walking and riding their bikes. It is a good feeling to like the new version more than the old. To be driving on a man made object that makes sense.

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Diversity

I am in a cafe when this young fellow walks in with a jaunty step. He’s a lively guy and catches my eye.  My mind is in it’s habit of constantly sizing things up to put them in a place where it interprets in the hopes of understanding. Like any mind. Image

I am not sure whether this guy is hispanic, southeast asian, maybe middle eastern, turkish, philipino, south american or what.  I am lucky this way in that there are lots of people like this in the San Francisco bay area. My daughter can pass for a lot of ethniciities but in fact she’s just a white girl.

This young man has on a terrific shirt. It says, “Everything is Beautiful but Beautiful isn’t Everything”

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I get my coffee and as I am leaving I compliment the kid on his shirt. He responds to this and now I can guess his ancestry from his accent but it doesn’t matter.  Just like everything is beautiful, so is everywhere. Inside and Out.