Crap Shoot is just another/better word for miscellaneous. Here will go entries that do not fall neatly into the categories represented by the other pages.
- The Heaven of H20 (4/21/2017)
By Narcissa Lyons
A casual drink of water started one hell of a thought path, but I may think of water more often than most. Is my conclusion anyway. It’s true we need it for our very existence and much of the world is sadly thirsty, but the many sensual aspects of water evoke exceptional memories and promise others to come. Maybe this hits me now because we are about to be deluged with cold rain this weekend and the past days have been grim, miserly of the sun. But there is a summery future with warmer falling water.
Warm rain falling on you, preferably heavy and many droplets as you walk or trot barefoot over cement or low cut grass is an exhilaration, and the initial scent of that wettened cement is so beautiful it could make me cry. Moments of sheer joy in life are rare. I don’t mean happiness; I mean real and utter joy. But that is one of them and it is profound, much more so because it is fleeting and you know that when you’re in it. The sensation of water on skin, of it dampening then thoroughly soaking you is intense, and maybe you open your mouth so some of the sky’s liquid slakes a thirst you did not have until just that moment. It gathers quickly and rivulets its way across everything. And the audio of this kind of beauty can be heard when you are falling asleep or having to rise. Much harder to rise on a day it’s pattering outside, just coaxing you quietly to stay under your sheets and blankets. “Rest as we wash and trickle down your windows. Rest as we rhythmically drench your house and dreams.”
And then there’s the pleasure of looking at it, bodies of water, sparkling streams through quiet woods or wherever they may flow, offering up the chance to watch its peaceful running fluid and listen to the meandering path it makes. The ocean. The vast, powerful, glorious ocean with all its blasé might. Forgetting the entire other world that lies within it, the ebb and flow of tides and the surge of large waves smashing against many greeting surfaces, and it’s just a little hard to understand. There is so much of it, and it is careless, ignores us, is grand and acts like every bit the earth taker it is. That is a force hard not to respect, and the ocean is Mother Nature’s second cousin, not just a subject of her fickle personality. The ocean on its own can wreak havoc without necessarily being tempestuous. And as I noted, it doesn’t care a whit.
The partial engulfing of one’s body by water is healing. It clears the head while it calms the soul. Dive into a soothing pool with a bastardly hangover, sit and splash around, and you begin to feel sanity return, pain subside, fogginess to clarity. This can also eventually lead to beckoning back the poison that sent you seeking medicinal waters in the first place, but it fixes the body and the mind in the meantime. There are wave pools all over the world, and we used an expression for this type of curing since we were in Hungary (my sisters and cousins) and felt the need to visit the famous Gellért Hotel and Spa for just this reason after yet another heavy night of dancing and associated ingredients. “Na” (pronounced and stressed this way for this particular situation)—this is clearly not easy to translate but I’ll give it a whirl. It can mean a few things, and context is everything, but for that situation it boiled down to “well there it is then, perfect”. I’m getting away from it, but that wave pool held more magic than just the Turkish baths for which it’s famous.
And we have skinny dipping, one of life’s coolest luxuries. On an innocent side, water directly surrounding you, every pore, every follicle, is delicious freedom, physically and spiritually, and all ways in between. A bath doesn’t count even if it’s soothing because you can’t go anywhere, but to swim so naturally without material hiding Adam-Eve parts brings childhood into adulthood and into sometimes angst-ridden teen-hood. It’s always associated with laughter and sometimes stifled giggles if you’re tress-passing or pool-jumping, borrowing your neighbors’ if they are sleeping or away. It’s secretive, stealthy and chuck-full of promise, all this creeping around. Less innocent skinny-dipping, a little more thrilling, a little more hush hush, well it’s great stuff. Night waters have a special attraction, and the sudden wish to keep everything below the surface other than one’s face, while not missing glee, elicits a slyer smile. Mixed company. Someone coming too quickly to check out the splashing sounds. I was sixteen and had one of my best friends over along with two boys—her boyfriend and his unfathomably good-looking friend, and somehow we decided to strip down and jump our naked bodies into the pool. It was surrounded by trees and it was deep, dark night, and after jumping in I remember things changing in the whispery, watery silence to something I knew would become more than just skinny dipping. There are no gory details to impart and that would belong in the erotica section anyway, but it was sensate-electric, engulfed in water but warm, beating skin against warm, beating skin. It was only a short lived fantastic few minutes because we heard my mother come clip-clopping into our arena, thankfully giving us time enough to get close to the pool walls. “Is that you dear?”. Yes, we’re just swimming, be in in a while. Miraculously she went back inside, and I think she believed innocent behavior, but I’d like to think she knew better and decided to leave. Forgive the mind stray on something less precisely water, but the magic fluid and the time of year must be sending me listing.
It would be negligent if I didn’t mention the hazards of water, because people drown all the time. The same envelopment that creates a peace within us can also be an envelopment gently taking us down to the bottom as our eyes watch the surface recede even as our breathing is over until we then float, no life within us. Learn how to swim, and if you don’t, stay away from the water. About 10 years ago two men went fishing in a row boat on Ball Pond in Connecticut, the pond near which I grew up. The boat tipped over and they both drowned about ten feet from shore because they did not know how to swim. To say this is perplexing is an understatement. Learn how to swim, even if you are an adult who had the misfortune of having parents that didn’t get that lesson out of the way first thing. It will at least fifty-fold your pleasures in life and take away one very large but reasonable fear. But for fuck’s sake if you don’t know how to swim don’t get on a boat with another non-swimmer. At least not without a life jacket tightly fastened.
We had our own small pond in our back yard when I was little next to which stood a ramshackle duck house amid cascading willows, and I stood there and watched what I thought at the time was fantastic and strange, and in retrospect still think the same but without the strange. We had our whole family over, crazy aunts and uncles, and all of them had decided to get on the raft we had (maybe 5′ x 5′) and paddle around the lake. This meant they were standing next to each other like sardines, the raft dipping into the lake on trading corners as they tried to keep its balance. A massive rainstorm swept in. Just like that. It was pouring to the extent it was hard to see, and they were caught in it, but they didn’t head for the shores like I thought they would, they just all started laughing and staying put, a few jumping in and eeking like children, the rain continuing to pelt down on them and leave large rippling marks in the lake as it did. It was so loud. I was mesmerized. The torrents were as short-lived as they were intense, but everyone was exhilarated and smiling as they reached the shore. That’s the nature of nature and the nature of water. Peace and joy and outright fun.
- Ode to the Silent Fight (3/14/2017)
By Narcissa Lyons
I went to work this past Wednesday and one of my workmates asked me what I was doing there. “Here I was thinking it was typical to show up if you wanted a pay check”. And I was then educated that last Wednesday was Women’s day. That taking it off was what we were to do. To mark the importance of who we are, what some of us have done in past years to better our cause, et cetera. I will preface the rest of this article by letting you know, emphatically, that women are crucial to this world, and really its survival. We keep it going, bar nothing. It isn’t obvious but we run this show, or most of it anyway. Could we do a better job? Yes. But we are working on it and it is one big ass world with myriad and endless problems.
Since that is our mission, to keep the globe mobile, to keep the family in stride, to keep humanity, well, humanity, then that is what we must continue to do–without taking time off just for being female, thereby thwarting our efforts for 24 hours. In case you haven’t looked around at the state of things lately, we cannot spare that kind of time. We should not seek glory or recognition for how we were born into this world. I heard some teachers took the day off. TEACHERS. That taking a day off because you’re a chick is somehow more important than educating our youth. How is our missing a day proving our value rather than proving our silliness in needing that kind of short fame? Ruling the world is difficult, and slightly more so when it is done with the discretion we have thus far employed by necessity or by preference, but that is exactly how we have been successful. It may seem trite and a little white-gloved-hand-over-the-mouth demure, but this is what has been helping us gain ground. It has been easy to present the slighter side, to sooth the tired husband, to let some shit go. But here we are. We have stood by our men and let them man the helm (so to speak) because they are mostly good at what they do and because we can influence positively. Why oh why do we all need a pat on the back? We are not 10.
The fact that my workmate said what he said about me taking the day off with a smile, the rest of the male crew softly chuckling with him, and the fact that many other women rolled their eyes with me when this day was referenced …..is telling. When you balk about something that does not need to be balked about you will not be taken seriously. When you differentiate the entire gender from the gender you believe has wronged you (or the male dominated government, whatever), you are invalidating most of your cause. There are women in this world who have real problems, large populations actually, and thankfully there are causes and groups out there trying to address these problems, but feeling unrecognized and complaining about it enough to have a freaking day dedicated to us is just humiliating. What is happening?
Easy answer. We have fallen off some ridiculous cliff. We are living in a section of the world where things are actually fairly OK for females (no, not perfect), and have become so spoiled that we demand importance be noted, and don’t you forget us. Of course we are important, and of course we are vital, and of course we must fight the good fight, but I want to go back to fighting it intelligently and with dignity. With subtlety. For shit’s sake, we know better. This is not simplicity, but taking the day off to prove women are valuable is flinch inducing, and a not-so-dainty step backwards. Until recently, we have handled the imbalance with nobility and wisdom. I don’t know about you, but I know exactly what is what. We are all that. But don’t give me a day off or tip your hat just because. Thankfully, there are plenty of us out there that still wield the theoretical sword silently, and it is understood we are respected by both/all sexes, albeit it that such people are of the intelligent variety. I’ll not soon be asked for my vote on this, but I move to return to that nobility and doing what we are good at–furthering the agenda not just of women, but of humankind at large. And that is a full time gig.
- Plane Old Fear (2/23/2017)
By Narcissa Lyons
The fear of flight is mostly illogical, but logic goes to shit when you’re trapped in the sky hurtling in a huge metal bullet through blue, white, gray, and who knows what next. It is the safest form of travel (22% safer than traveling by car, for instance),is manned by a pilot and a co-pilot who are not only highly trained but are also people who would like to get home to their families just as much as we do. Safety regulations and security checks to prevent perpetrators of evil are, if not state-of-the-art, improving regularly in modern airports.
But then why do up to 35% of us cringe, sweat, cry, tremble, drink several cocktails prior to getting on a plane? I can’t get a good bead on the real percentage of those who fly in fear since the research out there is remarkably sketchy, and it’s a tough number to get anyway since the level of fear ranges from unease to outright panic, and inevitably flight avoidance. There’s the obvious. A machine that weighs 500 tons or thereabouts has no business defying gravity regardless of the four principles of Lift, Weight, Thrust and Drag. Then there is the very legitimate fear that the wings will snap off if there is too much or shocking turbulence (admittedly legitimate per me). One decent drop would surely snap them right off. Let’s face some other facts. There are millions of parts that make up these beasts (6M+) and how can mechanics notice everything that might be awry—that the Loctite on several key screws or a more critical component only has one flight left. I suppose a plane is made to lose a few screws and there are about 3 million rivets but where and when is the cracked up limit? Partially consoling is that ticket prices clearly indicate airlines are out to make scads of money, so making top notch equipment is essential to keeping customers. Literally.
I don’t know when it happened exactly—that I began to fear flying, because that was not always the case, almost far from it. I used to fly back and forth from Ohio all the time since that’s where I attended university. Didn’t bat an eye. Occasional rigorous turbulence might have put an annoyed expression on my face because it was tougher to read my bouncy book—but that’s all. I’ve thought about it a lot because my fear, while as yet not debilitating, is noticeable and requires a valium prescription to tame it if only just a little. And let’s just say there have been “episodes”. What changed?
Fact One: Youth ignores mortality. Fact Two: Having children immediately brings mortality to the forefront. Fact Three: Aging and getting wiser also crystalize the meaning of mortality. Fact Four: 9-11. Fact Five: (the last and the largest): We have all contemplated the many awful ways there are to die and most have concluded that being in a plane that crashes is in the top one. I don’t have to explain the first three facts, but Fact Four is an interesting one. Many people have been affected by 9-11 and how it relates to flying, it’s just that it’s an added dimension to the fear of flight/crashing itself. We now also look at some faces and worry about explosives or weapons having gotten through security, although dying by simply exploding in the sky would still beat Fact Five. We do not want to think about just how horrible our death will be as we plummet, seemingly endlessly with G-force galore, to the earth even though we know the impact would be quick and thorough.
I love to travel. Many of us do. And I think flight is beautiful, pilots laudably schooled, viewing lit up cities from above breathtaking. Just wish getting from point A to point B did not involve Fact Five.
- Mettle to the Petal (11/21/2016)
By Narcissa Lyons
Might seem like blooms of all colors and scents (and sense) are too trivial to write about. Please don’t stop reading, particularly if you are the more masculine portion of a relationship. You need this the most.
Most women love flowers, but they really love receiving flowers from the person that in theory cares about them more than anyone else. Life offers rare opportunities to really demonstrate affection easily enough, and the male gender has long been known to be just a little clueless on how to convey warmth to their partner. This is the easiest and least expensive way to do it! Possibly some of you are thinking “well actually it’s just as easy, inexpensive, and closer to go to the bedroom where affection can be shown”. Sorry, doesn’t count, “try again later” in 8-ball language, since men would not live or live well without the physical piece of things and that sort of “gift” is at the very least a mutual one, if not a little more slanted to the males.
The provision of flowers does not require words. This should be one of the most attractive aspects of flower giving to men given their also notorious loathing of talking about love, feelings, or really any subject of import that does not involve some kind of ball being batted around. Pick them out, or let a clerk do it for you, purchase them and walk out confident you are doing something that will be well received, and THEN possibly get you to the bedroom for the rest of the “affection”. A single flower can do the trick. There is no requirement for a full bouquet. Bringing in a single flower or a set of them means you thought about your other, that you paused from whatever daily grind you were a part, detoured, parked and bought something (or picked them in a field, even lovelier!) because the thought of her prompted you to. That you think about her even when she isn’t there in front of you. We assume you think about us in the first throes of romance, but as time wears on and the assumptions made by men that “of course you know I love you”, begin to do their own damage. It isn’t that we don’t know you love us, because most of the time we do, but the passing of time does not mean there should be less affirmation of that love, of the knowledge we are being thought of.
Despite the fact most men look at women as enigmas, overly sensitive, hard to please, I won’t go on, we are not that complex. Just more complex than men. This is not an insult, but a partial explanation of why things can sometimes go awry when we try to deal with each other. We tend to be deeper people and we do tend to over-think, but we also can’t help it. Genetically wired. This means we know the same is true for men, that men cannot help the way they are either. It is for this reason I write this article. Possibly my subject matter would be constant if all I did was write about men and what they do and what they don’t, but there I go digressing again.
I mean it about flowers. I have been tongue in cheek so far, and I don’t want that to turn this into an inference that this is a light subject. Letting your meaningful other know that you think of them enough to stop and pick some flowers for her, is a massively wonderful thing. Don’t do it on obvious occasions when you are forced to think of her (Birthday, Valentine’s ,etc.). Just do it any old time. Maybe this will be difficult if you haven’t ever done it before, and maybe you fear she’ll immediately suspect you of guilt for bad behavior, but then you can explain it away. You can let her know that you read something that made you realize you should show her more often how you care about her.
It’s one of my favorite sights really, other than maybe getting my own flowers (which I don’t dear husband so pay attention). I’m grocery shopping and heading towards checkout. I see a man with a single bouquet of flowers in front of me or at another check-out, and I know he stopped at the store just for that. I look at his face and study him for a little while, always smile, and am tempted most times to say something like a thank you for being that person, to let him know that he is being quite cool, to underscore and encourage this behavior. I have not done so as yet, but now that I realize just how meaningful those scented petals are, I promise the next man I see with them I will do so. “Good on you” or something like that.
On your way home tonight, just do it. Then put reminders in your calendar to do it again in a month or so just because you can, because you love her, because you want to make her happy, and because she very much deserves them.
- Insert Evil Laughter Here (10/23/2016)
By Narcissa Lyons
The Dark is upon us. Wish that was not double entendre this year. Been a bit frenetically busy, but I will not let this time of year go by without any mention of this spookiness, eeriness and lovely horrorfest time. It is All Hallows Month, and very quickly is approaching All Hallows Eve. Have you done something good or terrible enough to make a mention on the list? Have you bought or contrived or painstakingly put together a suit that will hide who you are or might have been? Oh the pressure! And with each costume you use up year by year there are that many fewer from which to choose. I have seen a few costumes of late, and I don’t count the idiots that have been out there as clowns and started a phantasmic sort of riot as a reaction. Funny how one thing can reach another and then lead to another. I did see puffy cheeks and evil coal black eyes the other night and if that is what the selection process brings in to head this country then it is Halloween in Perpetuity and we are Gotham.
To get back to it. The night, the anticipation of it, the pressure of knowing how you will live up to it, because most times you can and do. Most times you catch a glimpse of yourself in the best damn outfit ever and you wink at the mirror and then while you don’t have that pitch perfect outfit sent to you, you put together something that might be even better. I have seen it happen. By the by, I think Halloween is possibly better as an adult (especially if one dresses up). I have opened the door grandly to children of spectrum ages and have seen them gaze, OK gape (aghast? I can only hope) at me in astonishment and awe. We all like candy, but we more as the years go by like hiding just for once on one given day. We are forgiven on that day for being something else, and we allow ourselves moments of disruption. We play weird, haunting music, hang lights that are not symmetrical, carve into orange flesh faces that might be happy or haunting or gaping, put them on the stoop and then ask who dare approach. Who dare knock on this door after looking hither at freakish cool pumpkins, crisp and deep voices emanating from speakers and not knowing what is on THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR? Granted the window for really instilling terror in your small visitors is limited to maybe a 5 year span. I wish I were better at this. I wish I were my neighbor down the street who defines orange light and does it one month before it is necessary, and yet who has the smile and height of Santa Clause if you ring that bell.
This is how we went around the neighborhood when young. We lived on a highway, so houses were not right the damn next door. My mother, thanks to this particular quality of hers, made our outfits (actually she also sewed my wedding dress come to think of it). It was a fantastic year, or at least fantastic in that I remember Halloween for that year. She had said she had a lovely idea that would make us beautiful, related, and royal. “How About” she said, “You each decide on what kingdom you would like to rule?? You can be King or Queen of ANYTHING”. She was so proud of herself and excited at the prospect, and it would have been a welcome idea had it not been a little overwhelming for our young minds. We surmised (being between 4 and 11), looked at each other, muddled in it, and the best we could come up with was Panni being the Queen of Snow, me the Queen of Flowers, Reka the Queen of Hearts, and Antal the King of Fish, and thence we traipsed. Paulette did not want to be a queen of anything and insisted on being the King of Birds. My mother, during what was an admittedly short period of motherly time, sewed those costumes and several years’ worth. It’s actually a little spectacular given her other full time role at work. We were all each in different draping costumes with snap-on pieces that were part of our kingdom (i.e. birds, flowers, snowflakes, etc.)
Let us not forget about the parents who accompany their children on this macabre evening, some dressed some not, but all to make sure everyone—children and greeters alike—is behaving. And maybe they have their own warm treat in hand to help the night along, to be part of the fun since we in theory are no longer allowed to ask for candy. The toddy they are entitled to! And some kind greeters at least on this street, have treats for the children and treats for the adults in just that liquid form.
The gruesome, or possibility of the gruesome is what we smile about, why we think it is OK to hide behind corners or trees on 10/31. It is Halloween and everything is accepted. I can stand, inside some grinning maniacal outfit and feign murder at you as you walk home from the train station and you nod a hello. The you that accepts this, instead of running for your life from the maniac, is thinking either “gotta go home and make sure I have enough candy” or “get into my own costume” and hopefully not “turn the lights off” (condemn yourself to all neighborhood kids and a possible egging).
You (if you do) step into your costume and your mood is immediately different. Different and magic. We will open this door to the too many children that walk down some streets that eagerly want candy and to impress with their costumes and it is them we are really serenading. They hear the beautiful but quietly threatening music we are playing and see the tragic faces carved into these sacrificial pumpkins, and this is etched in their memories. They live it then and then live it again when they try to return the favor to the next generation. Part of me dances while I wait for new candy askers and part of me just dances. Halloween.
Orange and Flesh and Deep Dark Night.
A Witch’s spell, a Devil’s fright.
Beware, be Watching until it’s Light.
Be ready to run until it’s Light.