SPOONERISMS   4 comments

Still hoping to find Milt Turbiner, I’m waiting for Boston University to let me in on the alumni directory. I do want him to know his success story.

As for my success story, I am suddenly overwhelmed. I was in perfect balance working with the super editor of My Father’s House — she’s really good, and it’s fun. But the manuscript is in the cloud, so we can’t both be working on it at the same time, and she’s devoting the weekend to it. So I’ll be off.

That’s Okay, though, because now I’m into the next phase of Nick’s book. Wait ’til you hear the title we’ve chosen! — his last written words. Maybe I’ll tell you next time I’m on.

To add to it, I just got notice that my license renewal  — Psychology — is due the middle of May. Not only the challenge of coming up with the money, but I need a total of 40 continuing ed credits, and all I have so far is 18. Oh wow! That’ll be my task to begin tomorrow while I don’t have access to My Father’s House.

And now spoonerisms. My father was really into them, but sometimes he got into unanticipated trouble. like “Up the hill to the poorhouse,” became “Up the pill to the whorehouse.” OOPS! And then there was the name of my friend Martin Fox. Well, you can see for yourself why that was an unintended shocker.

The thing that got me thinking about spoonerisms was a really good one handed on to me today by a client. WILL YOU BE HUMBLY GRATEFUL? OR GRUMBLY HATEFUL? A good one to think about in these times.

Stay safe

ARE YOU THERE MILT TURBINER? I WANT YOU TO KNOW YOU SUCCEEDED   8 comments

In writing My Father’s House I’ve had several occasions to mention someone from my distant past. Given my age, the first thing I do is consult the obituaries. The success rate is astonishing – or maybe not so surprising. But I haven’t found Milt Turbiner.

If you are there, Milt, I want you to know that your efforts at Boston University back in the 50s were successful. This has to do with what I talked some about in my most recent blog – that Swedish barrier that prevents emotions from passing all the way through the body.

This story is not an outtake from My Father’s House  because it was never an input, but the guys at Calumet Publishing thought it was worth telling.

So what’s the story? Well, Milt, if you are there, you might not remember doing your best to teach this Swede how to allow emotions to flood above the neck barrier. In other words, to blush. I’m happy to say I finally accompiished it – way back then I was teaching an Intro Psych class at the University of Vermont. The topic was masturbation. Standing in front of the class in my Poodle skirt, I suddenly felt the heat rushing from my toes to the top of my head. My whole face turned pink!

I stopped in mid-sentence and declared to the class, “I did it!”

“Did what, Miss Gustafson?”

“I blushed!” I declared.

There you have it Milt. A success story for you from many years back.

A DROP OF MIDNIGHT BY JASON DIAKITE   Leave a comment

I just finished reading this amazing memoir – moved to the point where I’m shaking. I’ll post this review on Amazon later, but I want to write it here on my blog before being influenced by what others have to say.

I chose this memoir when I was asked by Calumet Editions to list books similar to My Father’s House which will be published under my maiden name because it is so Swedish. Of course I headed to Diakrite’s book – in large measure a Swedish memoir – Swedish as in Sweden and of mixed racial heritage. “That will be an interesting contrast to mine,” I thought. “I so deeply cocooned in the nurturance of blonde, blue-eyed Swedish/American heritage compared to his clearly more complex life source.” Little did I know that his beautiful writing and powerful personal and historical story would break through the Scandinavian throat-level gasket that stops emotions somewhere around the throat level. I cried, not necessarily out of sadness.

Sure, I knew about slavery and poverty and brutality. Sure, I’ve said I can’t imagine how it would be to raise a black son – certainly not by allowing the kind of unabashed freedom available to my own child. Yes, I wrote high school essays in Connecticut about the cruelty and unfairness of racism. I remember being horrified by Senator Bilbo’s horrible attitudes. Sure, it aroused my anger and dismay. But no, I didn’t know. I couldn’t know. Diakrite’s book on the other hand won’t let me escape knowing. The facts, the effects, and the survival methods – including a reason for choosing Donald Trump. All wrapped in the beautifully honest family story.

I can’t say anything more about the book. I don’t have the words. Except to say I wish everyone – American, anyway — would read it, and break through the throat level barrier.

Of course I will give it five stars on amazon.

 

LIFE’S VICISSITUDES   12 comments

At 3:00 a.m. today my sister-in-law Velia Fusco (my former husband’s sister) died at the age of 93, a victim of COVID-19. Blessedly she was not aware of the ventilator, or its removal.  Never through all the years would we have imagined such a lonely end. But then, do we ever really imagine the end?

Today my son and I applied the funds from our cancelled May 2020 cruise to a Viking Mississippi River trip in October, 2022. The last day on board will be a celebration of my 93d birthday.

This afternoon a staff member called with a telephone inquiry into the state of my health. It will be a daily event for every resident from now on.

Today I heard that the editor of “My Father’s House” will be communicating details to me on Monday, April 6. I’m so anxious to be involved again.

The editor helping me with Nick’s book will be studying potential titles in preparation for giving me his opinion. Once we have the manuscript in decent order I’ll be using this blog to solicit people who’ll be willing to read the 70 or so pages and maybe write reviews.

Today I received notice that my grandson is now following my blog. Welcome, Erik.

In our private happy hour, my across-the-corridor neighbors and I sat in our doorways eight feet apart and enjoyed champagne that was originally intended for an anniversary celebration.

We agreed that our bodies – zinging – reveal more stress than our brains acknowledge.

And there is such gratitude that the geography of our locations allow us this human interaction.

A day in the life …

Stay safe and well

 

 

RANDOM THOUGHTS ON THE COVID-19 WAR   6 comments

AND I DO MEAN RANDOM 

MORNNG:  I woke up at 6:30 a.m. in my nice, cozy, safe bedroom. Leaving the embracing covers in a tangled mess, I headed for the bathroom. There I plugged in my cell phone, my lifeline to the outside world, not wondering if the power would work. Of course it would; It always does.

In my shower I didn’t worry whether the water would stay warm – almost hot – the way I like it. It always does. As I massaged my head with my favorite and diminishing shampoo I pondered whether my hair dresser would be able to deliver or ship the kind I always use. If not, I’d order on line and have it delivered.

I wondered about my hair dresser. Will she and her husband be OK with their business closed for the duration? How about the people who work for them? How about the friends who will have to postpone coloring their hair? I’m glad I went gray way back when I realized my artificial blonde left me looking yellow all over. I remembered my friend in Connecticut years ago who colored her hair a delightful almost white ash blonde. When she finally decided to go natural she discovered – guess what! – it came in exactly the color she’d been paying for.

WHAT WOULD NICK SPOONER BE DOING IF HE WERE STILL ALIVE? How would he be supporting himself. No people leaving restaurants and bars late at night needing a ride home in his limo. No one like me seeking rides to appointments in the daytime. I’m quite sure he’d be happy to shelter in place, appreciating nature and enjoying his cats. He would probably be tuning up his limo, trading off parts from relics. But how would he eat? Pay his rent?

Can it be that all I’m asked to do as my part in this war is stay in my apartment and enjoy the amenities of life? Including food delivery? And TV? And my computer? And my phone? And my books – even Kindle?

Like all I had to do back when I was a pre-teen and Pearl Harbor was attacked? Keep the black shades drawn at night. Wear rayon stockings instead of silk. Crush used aluminum cans for use in the war effort. Save to buy War Bonds. Help count ration stamps. Walk instead of ride.

HEY FOLKS.C’MON. IF THAT’S ALL WE’RE ASKED TO DO, JUST STAY HOME AND, WHEN WE ABSOLUTELY MUST GO OUT, STAY SIX FEET APART. IS THAT ASKING TOO MUCH?

YEAH, RIGHT! EASY FOR ME TO SAY. And that’s just my point. Think of the people who can’t –the people who don’t have the home, the electricity, the heat, the warm shower, even maybe the clean water. Think of the folks on the front lines, not even sure from day to day if they’ve been shot with that invisible weapon, and, if they have, whether they’re taking the weapon home with them to attack their family. Think of the warriors with insufficient weaponry to fight the enemy – and insufficient armor with which to protect themselves.

AND ALL I’M ASKED TO DO IS STAY HOME AND KEEP MY DISTANCE?

NOT LIKE WWII. The fleet was destroyed at Pearl Harbor and overnight the “home front” converged to create the weaponry, people power, and protections that were needed. What’s holding us back now? I guess we’re slowly learning that war has changed. Now it’s invisible attackers sent from no particular enemy in no particular location with no particular ax to grind.

Maybe the old fight or flight response to the attacking tiger won’t work. Maybe the survival of the fittest doesn’t need a war stance against someone. Maybe it needs mobilizing our energies for cooperation to save us all. Maybe the energy should be geared to keeping HUMANITY, not just me and my loved ones, alive and functioning. Ironically, we’re all in this together, so we need to stay far apart. No wonder we’re confused.

WE WHO ARE NOT ON THE FRONT LINES ARE ASKED SO LITTLE. STAY IN AND, WHEN YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST GO OUT, STAY SIX FEET APART. IS THAT ASKING TOO MUCH?

 

 

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YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE   4 comments

When I was eleven years old or so my best friend Hallie and I must have driven my mother crazy at Bay View Beach in Milford Connecticut repeatedly harmonizing to “You are my Sunshine.”

What goes around comes around. Here we are, Rhoda Blake and I keeping six feet of distance on a borrowed balcony at the Waters of Excelsior — harmonizing to “You are my Sunshine.” (Mona on the right)

Definitely not stir crazy — yet.

I’m loving this sequestered opportunity to do what I want to do when I want to do it without external demands. I have to be patient with some things, though. I’m waiting, for example, to hear some word from the editor working on “My Father’s House,” and I need a little more input before I can escort the Nick Spooner book out the door.

But there’s the opportunity to join my across-the-hall neighbors for cocktail (wine) hour from our doorways eight feet apart. And fun surprises like the visit today from a tall and walking pink balloon rabbit delivering a cup of creamy ice cream.

Then, too, I’ve been mastering the art of hosting Zoom meetings so my writers group can get back together.

My life is good. I wish that were true for everyone.

THE WORLD WAR II FEELING        10 comments

I’m pretty sure a piece of me is going to feel embarrassed after I post this, but here goes. I think my father would have approved with that look of “oops. There she goes again.” Anyway …

This morning it suddenly washed over me – that WWII feeling – a warm safe feeling, believe it or not. No, I don’t love war. Yes, I’m ridiculously a pacifist, at least as far as I’ve been tested. But I am old enough to remember my Aunt Esther and Uncle Frank arriving unexpectedly at our kitchen door on a Sunday in December, 1941, to announce that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor? Where’s that? It wasn’t the memory of that mysterious and scary announcement that warmed me this morning. Or the worry about my brother and brother-in-law and cousins or fellow church members off to war. It wasn’t the nighttime trips around the neighborhood with my best friend Hallie to make sure all windows were blackened to the light within, or the ridiculous recollection of us two on a building roof spotting for enemy planes. I couldn’t tell an airplane from a mosquito in flight to say nothing of distinguishing an enemy plane.

It wasn’t the image of gathering by the radio on our nook table – the one that looked like a church front, or maybe by the floor-standing unit in our living room, ingesting the daily news. It wasn’t the careful accounting and saving of ration stamps or storing our weekly purchase of canned foods in the pantry my father built in the basement. It wasn’t the memory of crushing the emptied and cleaned aluminum cans to contribute to the war effort.

No. I can’t verbalize the feeling, but it brings me close to tears. That sense of coming together. Almost a visual image of lots of scattered pieces of metal rushing together to the magnetized center of energy. Do I dare call it love? Togetherness is such a weak word. A rush to join on the same metaphorical path with the whole country. Sure, I was pretty young, and memory is a constantly changing creative process. But the feeling was real. I think it’s happening.

That’s the felling that crept up on me this morning. I have been sure for a long time that out of our current stresses and struggles there is going to emerge a better country, a better world. These are birth pangs, I know. But today I felt it, maybe because of the coming together of those of us who live here at the Waters of Excelsior – isolated in our own apartments, separated physically from each other, joined by so much creative caring, and buttressed by staff and so many outside our walls.  (I confess; my eyes are tearing. Some one of these days I’ll tell the story of how my friend Milt Turbiner helped me overcome that tight-throated Swedish stoicism that once was a virtue.)

That’s it. My confession. So corny, but I feel the love.

Thanks to all.

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