My Grief Lives in My Lungs

Grief lives in my lungs.  My lungs temper my grief – keep me upright, keep me alive, keep breathing…putting one foot in front of the other.  Grief lives in my lungs.

I had quit smoking in the months before my dad died.  I had tried so many times to quit smoking and this time seemed to be working.  Oh sure, I had cravings, but I was managing them. 

My mother called, “Come quick. It’s an emergency.”  Part of me knew.  I stopped breathing.

And then, I went tearing down the hill after putting shoes on.  Normally I would have gone barefoot. I don’t know why the shoes. In case we had to go to the hospital? Part of me knew.

I was breathing hard by the time I got to the house. Shallow, unsatisfying breaths.  My father dead on the floor.  I quickly knelt and started chest compressions, went to blow air in his mouth.  Cold.  He was cold.

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There’s nothing better than. . .

There’s nothing better than standing in the kitchen of a rented beach condo eating a peanut butter, potato chip, and butter sandwich on plain old grocery store wheat bread. 

Wet hair, damp bathing suit, sand between the toes.  Slathered peanut butter, thick cold real butter, crispy salted potato chips on bread with barely enough oomph to hold it all.  Superb.

So much so that two are better than one.  The second one should be consumed in a chair on the balcony.  Maybe wash it down it with a Coke or perhaps an afternoon cup of coffee.

After a day at the beach, the body needs what that sandwich offers.  Salt after sweating, protein after swimming, fat just because it tastes good.  I love love love a peanut butter sandwich after a day at the beach.

I also love a frou-frou umbrella drink at the beachside bar. At about noon. I used to always have a daiquiri – strawberry — frozen, one shot and twice as much strawberry mix as usual – two drinks worth with half the alcohol, an all-afternoon sipper in a thermal cup.

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The Odalisque

The odalisque sits staring off into the now.  Completely comfortable in her body, belly, thighs, and all.  She has come to terms with it and embraced her physical self.   

The artist is in love with color and is not concerned with flattering her, though she is gorgeous.  She is just what I need as a muse – a woman at ease in her skin, able to tell her story, and willing to do so to anyone who will listen or to remain silent – according to the whims of her audience. 

People talk of their muse as if a magical creature that drops art in their laps fully formed and ready to go.  No.  The muse is the inspiration for the art – the one who whispers in your ear….the stray thought that ties the piece together.   

Matisse’s model for the Odalisque series was Henriette Darricarrère.  She too was a painter.  She gives the appearance of complete comfort and rest while holding her poses – for ten hours at a time.  Art is not necessarily easy.   

The blue and white porcelain pot with the plant echoes the blue and white porcelain in the room I am in as I write this.  

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Wicked Mean Blues Air Guitar

I play a wicked mean blues air guitar.  Usually after one drink too many.  I almost always say upon such occasions, “I could do it if I just knew how.”  And I could.  I really could.  I’m convinced of it.  So convinced of it, Santa asked me what I wanted one year and I said, “A guitar.”

Santa brought me a whole kit.  Case, stand, picks, tuners, Guitar for Dummies, and other assorted accessories. 

I couldn’t tune the damn thing.  Tried and tried.  I have a good ear, but I can’t figure out how to get the strings to the tension required.  I turn the little screws things this way and that to no avail.  I use the electronic tuner.  I don’t think I’m doing it right. 

In desperation, I cleaned my house and invited a musician friend and his wife to dinner.  Told him he not only had to sing for his supper, he had to tune my guitar. 

He did.  He declared it not bad for a cheapie. 

After they left, I tried some chords.  Damn it’s hard.  My old hands may be too arthritic to learn new muscle movements. 

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