Archive for the ‘WTF’ Category

Close Call Gifts In Strange Wrapping Paper

March 18, 2018

We were lucky enough to have reasonable tickets pop up at the last minute, and got to go to the theatre last evening to see Hamilton, before the cast and crew pack up and leave town. This historic show based in the time of forming this country is as relevant to today, in this time of breaking apart the very work of those. immigrants all, forefathers, who gave their lives so all these years later, we could have lives lived in freedom; with rights, safety and happiness. Yes, that piece always gets me. They wrote ‘happiness’ into purposes and rights for us!

Here in this century, is a groundbreaking production of American theatre history. A broadway musical in a new form of tale and tune; to an au courant beat and lyric expression. The words from the experiences of long ago ring out to the audience too true in today. The tapestry of us all being beings is woven across time. One can be suspended and upended by the depth and height of experiences then and relevancy now.
The incredible foresight and guts to fight for and build a new nation from a melting pot of many differences from other places in the world; the courage to place one’s life on the line for the the highest Good and betterment of ALL against tyranny of one ruling unendingly over many, birthed for us the life we’ve been privileged to enjoy, with all its human frailties and faults.

One of the lines sung by George Washington to Alexander Hamilton, after the war ends, says this: “Winning is easy; governing is harder.”
They both go on to acknowledge the facts still needing tending, as they are trying to form a good government by the people, for the people, and sing:

“The constitution’s a mess.
So, it needs amendments.
Its’s full of contradictions.
So is independence.”

And King George, in conceding the loss of the war, watches from afar with shock and awful prescience the initial steps this toddler America takes and fairly bristles with pleasure and portent at the preposterousness of a democracy of presidents and rights of people. He hisses, “They’ll tear each other to pieces!”

We, in the audience, shudder for a second and glance around at each other; knowing  that today’s political wreckage, and climate of fear mongering among us and abuse of power is living proof that tidbit is true.

For, as we entered the beautiful 90 year old grand dame Paramount Theatre, gathering to take our seats inside her gracefull sculptured inner sanctum, gazing at the immense ‘way back machine’ stage set for our journey into history, along with ushers passing out programs and helping theatre goers to their seat rows, we noticed a dog moving up and down the aisles. My first thought at this oddity was, ‘ must be a service dog…looking for its master?’ The full house was packed and busy with excited energy of anticipation and readying for a long and life changing show.

Then we noticed there was one man in navy blue walking up and down the aisle with the dog;  allowing the animal to smell each row on either side. A dog! In the theatre? Unheard of!

Then came the dawn!

This was a service dog of a different calling…a bomb sniffing dog!

We and our seat mates all whispered as if we were trapped in a plane cabin afraid to disturb a bomb or bomber. I froze in fear. I could feel my heart stop and my muscles pull in to tense. We all looked around for the exits. Were we close or too far away, God Forbid?

Two people hadn’t yet arrived to fill our row and their seats were in the upright position. In my head, I wanted us all to stand up and check under our seats for ticking devices or c-4 packs. But I was, frankly afraid to say that or look myself… for fear of finding.

My mind wandered back to while I waited outside the theatre for my dear Tom to park the car. Voices rang out, telling people to have their bags/purses open and ready to be inspected at the doors.
“No back packs or large handbags or satchels will be permitted into the theatre!”

I watched a lady go by me with a very large satchel bag. She didn’t come back out. A gal with a backpack on. She never even took it off her back, never mind open it. She never came back out. A couple of guys with back packs went in and didn’t come back out.

What happened to them? Were their bags confiscated?  These seemingly nosy small questions previously allowed to slip away, now seemed important.

We’d been to the show last month and this hand searching through purses felt out of place and more rock concert like; a looking for bottles of liquid imbibing, weed or bringing in food than genteel theatre.
Then, like every tiny neon flash, those thoughts got shrugged off too and lost in the excitement of seeing the show.

Sometimes, I’m super insightful and sometimes it takes several acts of God to get through and move me off the dime.

This night though, was Checkpoint Charlie heightened.

Tonight, with the addition of bomb sniffing dogs (there had been none last month when we first saw this production) I was petrified, wondering how or if we could get out. Could we leave the theatre right now? Screw the show; save our lives!? It didn’t look good. We’d have to trust the dogs.

I joked, as I do when I’m nervous or trying to lighten a heavy experience for folks. “Good thing I didn’t put that summer sausage in my handbag!” heh heh. Anxious smiles. Nervous bits of laughter.
The gal one seat over from me looks wide eyed and we assured ourselves everything was all right. In my mind, I’m thinking of my grandchildren being told that Gramence and Grampy at least died doing something they loved. That’s not such a terrible thing, right?

I really want to get out of this place. Nice present, Tom. Ohhh, Screw this, it’s just a show; just money. No one will die for giving up either. Breathe. Breathe. All
is well. All is well. Be still and know. Angels surround.

Wait! Is this how we’re sposed to die? In the theatre!? Oh, that is too rich. ‘Not funny, you guys up there!’ I think really loudly to my too many theatre friends, family and colleagues already gone to that big theatre in the sky before me. My outrage and fear melt into more of a Let Go and Let God thing I’ve been practicing.

I sort of choose faith. And moreover, authenticity.  I’m sick of trying to be strong; bucking people up, I lean into Tom and whisper, “I’m really scared.”
And the orchestra begins, lights dim on us audience and come up onstage as the players begin to fret their hours upon the stage and we are in the nuts and bolts; slings and arrows of the founding of our nation. The booms we heath r are just the vocal ones from the singers’ lyrics representing canons of  of war and awareness of insights.

We all  lived.

This morning, as I write this, I have a gigantic energy hangover and the first thing I see on facebook is about the verbal abuse and mean misunderstanding being slammed at the survivor kids from most recent massacre of children in schools, (Isn’t that a sad thing to say…’most recent massacre?!’) These survivor kids won’t stay silent or go away in their courageous public grief. They have demands for change for public safety. Imagine the chutzpah of that! People who lost people in nightclubs, movie theatres, concerts, temples and churches want that too. I want that too.

It dawns on me this dawn, that the announcement of ‘no large satchels or bags’ allowed in the theatre last nite was to keep automatic rifles used in all the other massacres, out!
I am in shock! I am naive, even in my own good heart and character stance for sane removal of these weapons of war meant for maximum killing and optimal flesh damage. I want them out of and unavailable in civilian life.

How dare our representative not only allow the, they support the makers and lobbyists and taking away our safety for their own profit!

I’m outraged at the intrusion into schools and places of worship and the safe pastimes of our country.  I’m angry that we had to be put in a position of fear and fragility; doing nothing more than leaving the house to see a show.

And I’m fully aware that what I’m feeling in the aftermath of,   bad enough, threatening, that hat these kids went through was a million times worse in living though a bloodbath of friends dead and dying on the battlefield of their…SCHOOL!!!

Damn straight, they want these killing machines gone. So do I!

Responsible sportsmen know the sanity of this. Vets know and deserve to come home feeling safe to the country they fought to keep safe from that carnage, and not have to be in the middle of weapons of war anymore. Not to flinch at backfires or read of one massacre after another  by some white dude with an automatic weapon not meant for civilian life.
Last evening, I got a whiff of that insecurity in a place once never thought of where weapons of any kind might be commonplace.

A whiff.

No one got mangled or died. But the threat was obviously there in a normally safe place.

Who knows? Was there a threat turned in to the theatre that we didn’t know about? It is, after all, a very political show.

Weapons of war in civil life are already so commonplace, and, ghastly, actually supported by many for profit, prejudice or posturing, that we, the people, are subject to far worse than King George ever could have imagined…. but now that I’ve said that, maybe his words were more pronouncement than at the time petty. “They’ll tear each other to pieces.”

Who could have known with what flesh tearing, life obliterating weaponry that would be done…or where sanctuaries of common safety and decency in our communities would be destroyed in the name of greed, racism and treason.

Back to the future lived last night in the theatre.

People in our row talked about the signs of our times…..the notice posted on a cinema front door, “no weapons allowed inside”..the shocking little dark gun in a circle with a line drawn through it, ‘no guns’ sign on the entrance glass door to The Cheesecake Factory!

We were all shocked, trying to process these losses of civility and safety and depths of the sewer to which America has descended; the erosion of morals; the acceptance of the degradation in our country.
This shock will never wear off.  As uncomfortable as this heavy cloak is to bear and wear, we did not have to run for our lives like the school kids did and yet the ominous threat of the possibility was too real…because those with the power to make needed change, are wanton and willing…for their own personal profit!

I’ve said too many times, I can’t understand….This or that depth of terrible experience and pain.
But now I have a very valuable thing, in addition to my moral compass, within me forever,….a whiff.

In Hamilton, when those young men from across the sea, who became our forefathers took to the battle field, they sing; “We’re finallly on the field. We’ve had quite a run.
Immigrants get the job done!”
A roar goes up and fist rise, woot woot, in the air every night from the audience members, as if we are right there on the battle field too; because we are….again… and every blessed, or damned, one of us immigrants!

As is said, in this historic production, after the founders fight for and hammer out tooth and nail, a creation of a better life; a better, safer country for highest Good for ALL:
“Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
We fought for these ideals and we shouldn’t settle for less.
These are wise words.”

We, the, people, descendants of immigrants ALL, must not settle for less either.

Rise up.
Speak up.
Stand together
Honor what was gifted us.
Do not accept the unacceptable.
It is not commonplace.

I think of the young people standing up to those in leadership positions who won’t lead and are only interested in being well fed and not rocking their monied boat.
The founders were young too.
‘Young scrappy and hungry.’

Treason and death are inside our gates.
That is unacceptable.
Words from “Hamilton” that were true then and are true now:
“There is a battle for our nation’s soul.”

And, after last night’s scare, instead of living in fear, I choose to focus on another line, another perspective, from the women characters of that time period, who were also activists; I heard with different ears, connecting them from then and now which give me another way of looking at the wreckage going on around us, that I despair of seeing:

“Look around. Look around at how lucky we are to be alive now. History is happening in America and we just happen to be in the greatest country in the world.”

A ray of the light of hope opens in my heart and liquid light of pride and the love I have for our country and those who have fought to bring her into being and raise her well, slips down my cheeks.

How can we heal her?
Can we heal her?
Yes, we can.
Yes, we will.


and my dear Tom, of good humor, pokes his head in to lift my spirits with his ’60’s soul and wit; sees what i’m working on and through and quips a line from another Broadway period show, “Hair”: ” Believe in DOG!”


Mirror Warp

March 26, 2013

by florence ondré


We are all waiting.

For healing homes and hearts

We are all waiting

While insurance companies and banks and our government drag their recalcitrant feet; confuse people in need with one new version of fiction after another and do the crazy making dance of prestidigitation with shell game velocity…in a now you see what you know are facts or words told of help coming…and mostly now you don’t

We are all waiting

For realistic and compassionate  and timely  aid

We are all waiting

Never told truth, these greedy, self centered and dense persons and corporations say, while you twist in the wind, or mire down in the xerox multiples of mountains of paper work, which they over and over conveniently lose or claim you did not send, one hears perverted procrastination

They say they are waiting.

The Gratitude Pool

March 22, 2013

Jumping back into writing….not.

Just dipping a toe in the inkwell and seeing what dribs and drabs onto the page.

Still in limbo in life and edging the hem of my life’s garment with trepidation and timidity for fear that inches over the edge may take the muzzle off my mouth and  I may never stop shouting at the stupidity deluging us all with no help for those who need help; for victimizing victims and for the insensitivity toward the immeasurable suffering of the thousands of people who lived through one of the greatest national disasters to befall this country in over a hundred years.

My new heroine is a woman in Long Beach, New York, who actually went out into the cold of the day and wrapped her devastated home in tape….red tape.

For this honesty and expression of reality, I am grateful.

She speaks for us all eloquently and helps maintain our sense of humor in a humorless present plight.

Mayhaps my next trip to Home Depot or Lowes, might have a bit of coin of the realm spent to make a cherry colored purchase.


Day In Haiku- Happy Spring

March 22, 2013

Take a look outside

Giant  snowflakes are falling

Nope. Now they’re ice balls!

Quote For The Day

March 20, 2013

“Just because you meet a person who name is Angel, doesn’t mean they are one.”

florence ondré

said after getting hopes up that a fema agent with this appellation might actually be helpful or sent from heaven in the midst of the hell of hurricane sandy’s aftermath.

Insult To Injury

March 6, 2009

Why is it that, when you go to the doctor’s office, you are asked to wait while they take calls.
“We’ll be right with you. Excuse me but I must take this call. This is an important call, just give me a minute here.”
Any of the above statements are generally made while you are standing in some degree of discomfort or doubled over in pain with your head slumped on their desk or counter, which may be the only thing holding you upright.
Well, you think to yourself, it’s probably a really important phone call and after all, you are already there. They certainly wouldn’t keep you waiting if it weren’t important.
And then you think, really this is a good thing, because when you call, you most certainly will want them to take your call and deal with your needs right away too.
You go home feeling safe in the knowledge that you will be treated as well with that kind of attention when you need to call in.
A smile eases across your face and a sigh escapes your lips.
Then the day comes when you are the one calling in.
And what do you get?
“Dr Gotchacovered3waysfromsunday’s office. Hold please?”
You get out, “Hi this is…” before
Bang. They’re off the phone and you are left listening to muzak at loud decibels or advertisements touting the praises of the doc’s many swell services.
Bing! They’re back on the line, “Hi, Can you hold please.”
Wham! Gone again before you can say yea or nay.
You find yourself fighting the urge to reach through the phone to commit a bit of mayhem while la la la la’s run through your brain trying to drown out the tunes you never wanted to hear shrilling out of the earpiece.
They’re back, “Who is this? Hold on. I have to finish the patient in front of me.”
And here you are in the quagmire of thoughtlessness at the intersection “Rudeness and Whine.”
You sit stunned, wondering if is it just you, did your deodorant fail or was your breath offensive.
Ultimately arriving at the corners of “Conclusion and Don’ttakethispersonally.”
It is them. 
Their system of multitasking doesn’t work. Trying to be all things to al people does not work. It makes them cluttered, incapable and non efficient when thinking they’re perfectly so. 
A thought physicians and your office people: 
“Put one person at the desk and one on the phones, puleeeez.”
They just don’t get that finishing with one person at a time and giving your full attention to that patient will get things done more efficiently and effectively with everyone feeling cared for.
And isn’t that why we go to the doctor in the first place?


February 23, 2009

excerpted from the novel,  “A Confluence Of Circumstances In Our Time”

by Florence Ondré

Lately, while sitting in the pits of economic disaster contemplating the frailty of faith, I’ve found myself feeling grateful for things that might have usually been, at the very least, an irritant, such as:

An ascerbic comment heard; a thoughtless remark uttered my way; an ignoring of clearly expressed boundaries; a bright, chipper chattiness overriding the sharing of sorrow or challenge; a dismissal of valid feelings or experiences; an insensitive sounding snippet of word or deed which diminishes self that leaves me feeling shocked, hurt, shaken in my faith in people.  

Of course, when this happens, what comes immediately to mind is how I’d prefer folks to act and speak.

I’d especially like my family and family of choice to treat me with unconditional love, kindness, sensitivity, compassion and non judgment, as I do them.

Does that always occur? 


Am I always shocked when it does not.


Every time.

It takes my breath away;  leaving me reeling from the blow of the two by four between the eyes.

Ready rejoinders appropriate to each experience seem to fly out the doors in my brain; opened like wounds in my rolodex of retorts.

Speechlessness descends upon me like a heavy veil crushing my spirit with a shroud of sadness.

‘Wha, why, huh?’ turns into “WTF and “Arrrggghhh!” 

And I feel like Charlie Brown when the football is whipped out from under him as he trusts Lucy to hold the ball for him to kick…AGAIN!

With all my spiritual training, beliefs and practices, at low times like these, I’m left, shaking my fist at God, Higher Power, Spirit, All That Is, Angels-whoever is supposed to be ‘up there’- yelling, “What’s the purpose of this fanload?”

I know there’s always a lesson, a reason to everything and I don’t have to like it.  

Everything is in Divine Order and All Is Well but do the lessons have to hurt so much, be so hard, draw blood?

I’m left feeling like I did something wrong and am paying the price or I was so bad in another life that I now have to crawl through Karmic dirt in order to balance out.

I know that I have no control over anyone or anything outside of my own skin…and even that’s not a given.

Human body parts wear down and give out at the most illogical an inconvenient times with not much notice given and, when my skin is thinning in the face of some challenge or I have no skin on at all because the challenge has lingered long, a whisper of insensitivity lashes livid.

Still, there remains this nugget of hope; the Chas. Brown football kick of blind faith that sometimes leaves me flat on my back, panting for breath knocked out of me, underneath the pile of feeling anything other than gratitude.

Recently, while facing the challenges of physical handicap, losing my home and sheer terror thoughts of how to survive…or not; while being wrapped in a cocoon of self imposed silence born of blame and shame at not being more than I could have been, I broke my isolation and attempted to share bits of my shredded soul with those I’ve called friends. 

Their reactions and responses alternately lifted and toppled me.  

Some pushed me into puddles of tears, others angered, socked with shock or led to laughter.  

In all cases, after the weeping wound down, ire ebbed, guffaws ground to a halt and shock seeped away, I thought of each of these people I’d known for many years; times we’d endured and times we celebrated; what we’d learned about each other; how we’d grown and who we’d each become with our own individual personality quirks and qualities.

Several were women closest to me with whom there’d been some recent distancing.  Thus, reaching out in such vulnerability presented an extra emotional hurdle for me to cross to melt my own isolation barrier in order to reconnect.

Searching with clear eyes both my own motivation and the possibilities that things had changed irrevocably in our connection, I made the decision that, no matter what pieces I didn’t like; no matter what unfinished business with each other, I did not want to change any of them. 

I simply missed the intimacy and our comfort of close, loving support.

Ultimately, I kept reminding myself that I needed to keep my focus on me; listen and learn who I could or could not be near, instead of running at the always-fail punt; going to the hardware store for bread and milk.

And in this process of facing my fear of loss, aloneness in the world and unloveability, what I surprisingly found, after a variety of reactions of gravel, grace and grit, was odd gratitude.

Upon finally getting up enough courage to face friends; pick up the phone and say- out loud and outside my self imposed circle of silence-that we were facing losing our income and home , one reacted to my agonized admission of failure with a curt, dismissive, 

“Oh, you’ve been there before, you’ll be fine!” 

then launched into an all-about-her two minute gush before racing off with an “I’m at the store gotta go!”  

I was left holding the disconnected phone in my hand; flattened like a hit and run victim.  

Her next call was a chipper, 

“Hey, am I ever gonna see you again?  Let’s go to dinner,” 

followed by a few yards of how happy she was that her job as a tenured teacher was secure.

Her next call was to share with me how she was getting offered a very lucrative retirement buy out that would put more money in her bank account then than now.

I congratulated her and got off the phone, happy for her and wishing I could be that safe, as I scanned my mind for marketable skills; picturing myself, sans degrees, as a bag lady at the local supermarket; losing my social security disability because it would put me over income limit.  

I wondered, with my spine injury, how I’d ever be able to stand up that long for the bagging each day and realized in dark humor that, with what recovery I’d been able to wrest from 10 years, spent mostly in bed or a wheelchair, on pain meds, with hundreds of thousands of mortgaged dollars for out of pocket for uncovered therapies, I could probably now limp to the poor house.

After absorbing initial shock, I took time to notice what I was feeling. I replayed the initial reaction from my friend, which felt like I’d been told I’d just shared a molehill instead of the Himalayas we currently faced, and realized that, in being her usual curt self, she showed me that she didn’t take my plight as seriously as I and had faith that I would get through to a good outcome; reminding me I’d done so before.


Maybe she saw something I didn’t.  

What a weird gift wrapping but I was grateful there was someone out there who wasn’t worrying because it didn’t occur to her that we were anything other than capable and whole.


Another long time friend, who I’d been avoiding confronting about how sad I felt that our connection had lapsed overlong in phone calls not returned, promises unkept and feelings of not being of any consequence anymore in her life, responded with, 

“Oh, yeah, we’ve been in that boat for a while now.  We’re struggling too.  We’ve been trying to work out some reorganization of loans and bills.  No idea how it’s gonna turn out but we’re trying to live each day like you taught me—a minute at a time.  American Express has asked us to ‘Please, leave home without it!’” 

A rusted guffaw burbled up out of my throat before I could think.  We both cracked up. 

It felt like old times when we were a Long Island Lucy and Ethel capering in hilarious episodes of our own suburban lives; laughing at the absurdities in life, catching a prayer together or a piece of cheesecake, listening, making time for each other and finding the funny in the funereal. 

In this honesty of sharing her own unvarnished story, she halved my own shame and blame. 

A waterfall of weeping relief cascaded over me; wiping chunks of emotional debris from my concreted shoulders.  

I cried out that which had been kept locked inside me; braved being vulnerable, humiliated or thought of as weak; sobbed through the feelings of having missed our closeness, wishing I’d have communicated when the first call went unreturned, creating a year long pattern of disconnection.   

As we talked further, with no resolution in sight yet for either of us, we breathed again as friends.  

Bearing up became bearable.

In this day, this phone call, this sharing, she gave me back connection and the precious gift of humor.


Another close campadré, who we’d heard recently snap out her opinion that people who were losing their homes in the banking mess ‘deserved what they got,’ went into her own shock and dread when, after weeks of simply asking for prayer without specifics, I finally told what we were facing.  

I had to gear up for that talk because, though I know this friend loves us dearly, I feared the grilling for details I didn’t want to get into, the skidding to the top of the whispered, ‘OMG.  Did you hear what happened to…’ gossip chart and being labeled ‘schmucks.’  

I get that it’s human nature to awfulize (some of us were raised to think that was supportive response to an miserable experience)  yet, other than silence, I needed, at this time, to keep as much positive energy around us as possible to hold the door open for miracles.  

I believe that what we focus on grows and I surely didn’t want more negative focus.

The feelings we had the night of her quick (and unremembered) proclamation were, ‘Holy mackerel!  She doesn’t know she’s talking to friends who are possibly near that very edge of survival,’  and reminded us to keep our own knee jerk reactions and judgment to ourselves lest we jab others with that same poker of hurt.  We didn’t want to lump everyone in our country who’d been trying to survive 8 years of political and corporate greed and rapaciousness in the same cauldron with crooks, cronies and collective stupidity.

Predictably, when I could talk a tiny bit and returned her calls, my friend’s voice dropped to the hushed ‘OMG’ whisper of horror as she did the twenty painful ‘how, why, what’ questions over and over with suggestions for solutions.  

I retreated back into the shell I’d barely crawled out of.

I tried answering in short courteous form; conveying that we were still in the throes of shock and agony and even threw out a funny line of ironic worst case scenario–living in the basement of the son and daughter in law who are least close to us. 

Not a nibble. No humor to lift me here.  

After my patience and energy ran thin enough to snap, I begged off the phone with my teeth clenched, afraid of hurting her feelings; frazzled with more fear than I’d had before I’d phoned.

As the days went by, I’d get a loving e-mail reminding she was holding us in light or a phone call checking in to let me know she was praying for us and, of course,  a new piece of advice was offered every time of how to proceed or feel better in the middle of the crisis.

One day, it went like this:

“Hubby and I talked it over last night and we thought maybe, last resort,  you could go live in your son’s basement and your mate could go to the West coast and live with his relatives.”

Aghast, I thought,  ‘Are you freekin kidding me?  Separate instead of pull together?  What the hell could you be thinking?’ while simply thanking her for thinking of us and for her continued prayers.  

I got the hell off the phone before I chewed her face off through Bell’s instrument of torture.


“It’s a beautiful sunshiny day today.  Get out.  It’ll do you a world of good.”

This call arrived while I was armpit deep in cleaning and throwing out years of stuff in order to try to put my home on the market for, hopefully, a quick sale.  I was way on another side of ‘get out’ and it had nothing to do with El Sol!


“Put on your favorite outfit.  You’ll feel better.” 

Upon which I leaned against a wall, sagging under the weight of how out of touch she was with who I am and have been for years.  

How had she forgotten that for the last 3 years, we’d been having to throw every stitch of clothing out after wearing because we are still living with the aftermath of glue contamination on our skin and can’t wash clothes without contaminating our laundry machines, the pipes underneath our house or the community?  

Why didn’t she remember that I’d been shopping at the cheapest clothing stores I could find, had gotten far beyond a place where I gave a fig about fashion and, if I had a favorite outfit, it was long gone after the first wearing; disposable-nothing kept?

All of her monologues were  delivered in hushed, intense tones; mixed in with a variety of ways of asking the core question, ‘Is it better yet?” 

My ability to see absurdity in the world, left me thinking, ‘Oy! The draahhma of it all.  If I wrote this in a play, the audience would be in hysterics…hell, I’m in hysterics of about ten different kinds and growing!’

And then came the call where she talked about feelings and was clear-as-a-bell-on-target about the emotions this disaster had exploded and was full-on-supportive-validating of my guts and lungs which lay splattered on the floor about me from the tornado of shame, blame, sorrow and anger with which this plate of misery served.  

As she got into understanding the feelings involved in what I was going through, instead of awfulizing and trying to solve, she shared her own stuff; things regarding her own financial and home situation; what made her frightened, angry; how close they were to their own brink.

Sitting straight up in my chair, I blinked awake and aware once again of commonality in the face of what seems like terminal uniqueness.  How close we are; all threads in the human tapestry.

The rug being pulled out from under us had touched her core of stability and had scared her to her soul.  Her own whirlwind of what she’d do in the situation had reared its Hydra head and I got to be the befuddled being on the receiving end of her reactions.

My veil of shame lifted

I realized it wasn’t solely about me.

My situation had ignited her fear.

Her reaction came from her own life concerns and her ‘grilling’ and trying to come up with a batch of quick fix solutions showed more about how she might attack the problem than how I should.


I could feel compassion instead of constriction.  The cells of my body eased from heart attack stance to take a breath stand by.

The gift of friendship was not just mine or hers.  

In feeling pushed apart, we were drawn close and I felt less alone and abandoned emotionally.

We were ok.


Yet another companion continued connection but  kept talking about the shoes and clothing sales she was finding.  Hard to take in light of me taking food back to the store and cashing in all department store gift cards for the money to pay the mortgage.

Some friends moved away into silence and apartness.  No invitations came our way to get together, no Super Bowl Sunday, no weekend phone calls to touch base, no e-mails.  

As time dragged on into more than a week without us moving out of ‘need prayers and miracles’ mode, less and less contact or mention of energy of support came our way.  

It felt like we were just the speed bump in everyone’s ‘get on with it already.’  

Few wanted to hear about it anymore.  They’d moved on past the initial shock while we were still mired in terror with no way out visible yet.

It felt like the weeks after 9/11 when the nation mobilized their hearts and pulled together.  People were nicer, gentler, more compassionate to one another.  Traffic on the expressways slowed down to allow people to merge without getting the finger or squeezed out.  

“You go first, no you go first,” was a rarely heard phrase resurrected into everyday language out of the ashes of disaster.  

While in New York City at Ground Zero the energy remained softer longer, in outer reaches, got back to the same ol same ol.  ‘Yeah, it happened, get over it.  Get a horse, buddy!  Now about me…’

The novelty of unconditional, loving support wore off.

Sustaining that level of committment to others ebbed.

There’s so much more to focus on.  

Who can sit that long and pray for people?  

Who can hold the light indefinitely?

Whaddya want from my life anyway?

Feeling all this dismissive, seeming heartlessness, I get that it’s almost too much to bear for people to be too close to the fire for too long, lest it be contagious or too overwhelming to dwell upon while feeling impotent. 

I think how important it is that there actually are people who can and do hold the light for the world and individuals in need every day… and as I cogitate thankfully on this, I find I’m surprised to remember that I’m still one of those… no matter what is going on in my own life.

Nice reminder when I feel bereft of skills or value.


Another gift, even from those who absent themselves or fade off into the ‘acquaintance’ room-which is down the hall from the door marked, ‘friendship’ – is practicing ‘detachment with love’ when empty wells present themselves.  

It helps me keep my focus on myself and remember that maintaining my emotional health is an inside job.

One gal I’ve known for years,  calls it ‘dialing back’ from people who hurt you.


Yet another close friend, from whom I’d been experiencing odd, hurtful behavior, surprised me in a good way.

She’d been caustic in comments and plain rude in public to me and our time spent together sharing any kind of recreation had dribbled to zero over a long course of time.  

I’d made excuses for her in my head because she was suffering with grave illness and losses in her family.  

With every slight, I kept cutting her slack because I knew from whence she trudged.  She’d been there for me in my own health and familial losses and I was determined to be there for her, give her space, not take offense, chalk up hurtful words to her ‘being overwhelmed.’ 

I wanted to be kind and compassionate.  

The difference was that I couldn’t remember aiming my anger at her like the spikes I was receiving.  I vowed that in the new year I was going to talk turkey to her and find out if I’d missed any hurt or slight on my part, get straight or let go altogether. 

Bottom line, I missed my friend and didn’t know who she was anymore.  I just needed to be treated better or walk away. 

And then the security rug was pulled from under my home feet  and I could not one minute longer endure the least slight without opening a vein. 

No skin on. 

Everything paled into unimportance in light of survival.  

Take your bad behavior and shove it. 

I was in a place where I didn’t care about anyone’s bad behavior as I faced my worst nightmare, being a bag lady on the streets.

We both belonged to a weekly writer’s group.  After a session in which, as leader of the week, I’d brought in a gift to present to each member as a focal point for an in-session writing exercise, I was on the last shred of making excuses for rude behavior.

On a trip recently taken, I’d discovered little black boxes with the word, ‘irony,’ embossed in red on the top along with a tiny red line announcing, ‘a gesture of kindness.’  

“How perfect for my writer friends,” I’d thought as I searched around town to buy enough for each of the dozen women to have their own.  I’d be home for the holidays and wouldn’t these make a nice gift and fun for the group to write an in-session piece on the word, ‘irony’ and the line, ‘a gesture of kindness,’ would serve as a homework assignment.  

Each little box contained sugar free mints.  In mine, I kept little slips of paper with life’s ironies noticed written on them.  I was excited to bring sweet gifts for everyone that might spur their creativity and simply let them all know how dear they were to me. 

Under the heading of ‘no good deed goes unpunished,’ what I’d spent my hard earned money and energy on turned into anything but gratitude for a gesture of kindness.

Two out of the few present that day, pushed their shiny boxes back at me with disdain and my friend shoved hers across the table at me, announcing, after the woman next to her wrote barely more than the list of the ‘horrible’ ingredients, that she would never have this kind of stuff in her house!

I sat back numb, and devalued by the unfeeling rudeness and rebuff.  

So much for a gesture of kindness.  

I skipped the usual ‘lunch with the gals,’ feeling too raw and hurt; mumbled something to the writer next to me about ‘shepherding my energy’ (in other words ‘taking care of me by removing myself from further insult); went home and shared the experience with my mate who, with goggling eyes, said, 

“Oh honey, I’m so sorry you had to go through that thoughtlessness.  Good grief, even if one doesn’t like a gift, decent manners would be to say thank you on acceptance of the generosity of heart and then take it and do what you want later… at the very least, showing courtesy for the thought if not the gift itself. I don’t like you being treated this way.”

Yeah, me too I thought.

So, I picked up the phone and left a voice message for my friend, saying plain and simple how shocked and hurt I’d felt at her actions.   

To her credit, she called me back later that day wanting to talk things over with me but by then I was knee deep in graver matters than the discourtesy shown me that morning.  

It was days before I could talk to another living soul.  We were sliding into homeless homeplate and I could barely breathe for the terror rising in my throat every minute.

Rudeness paled and people who couldn’t remember that I am a sensitive; a friend worth treating with words and deeds rooted in kindness, just didn’t matter at all anymore.

I got zapped into the isolation booth of utter terror.  

No homeland security for me.

When I could speak, I decided to do what I want others to do for me-at least have the decency to return phone calls.  

She and I arranged to meet at a local deli and before I could even start on my laundry list, she took responsibility for her actions; said she never wanted to hurt me and affirmed our friendship and its importance to her.

Armor dropped away from my heart, my shoulders softened and I told her how, under the banner of that very friendship, I’d been allowing the actions of her misplaced anger to continually hurt me.  

“Why didn’t you tell me?”  she asked. 

I teared up as I answered, “I didn’t want to add to your already hard burden. I thought you might just stop sometime soon but instead, unchecked anger kept coming out sideways, skewering me.  I just can’t take it anymore.  

I choked out,  “I’m going through my own hell and I miss my friend.”

She  apologized and admitted that she’d been getting shorter and shorter on her already miniscule fuse.

There was a release of defenses.

Weight lifted with amends made; light peeked in through the cracks  and the foundation of our friendship was reaffirmed with her promising to try to be more aware and sensitive  and with me taking my own responsibility for speaking up immediately when I feel hurt; not letting it slide until our relationship is under the bus wheels.

She rallied to my side when I admitted the situation we were facing, didn’t judge us negatively and only offered that she wished she could solve it for us and take away the pain.  

She refrained from giving advice and has continued on with sisterly love and an occasional suggestion offered only as another thing to consider as we face difficult choices.

And in the middle of chaos of calamity, what had been buried rose to the surface of what’s really important.

We’re back in the flow of knowing the depth and breadth of our friendship and how important it is for both of us to nourish this precious blessing.


And isn’t that what we all want at our heart… a comfort, a safe haven, a place where we can be ourselves, and have the breath of kindness blow the chaff from the beautiful wheat we all are.

The Angels have taught me that we are here on Earth, called to cross each others’ path to bless and be blessed by one another.  

I believe this with all my heart and that belief, though sorely tested sometimes, remains true.

I want my friends to choose their words with care when I’m vulnerable and yet I want them to be themselves and stay authentic and connected.

Finding that bearable medium is hard and most of us don’t know what to say when devastation hits.  

We’re uncomfortable with loss and sorrow and we are, like it or not, part of the culture of fast food and fixes.  We feel undone when we can’t fast fix forward.

In mulling over these recent experiences and wide ranges of reactions- theirs and mine-what I realized, and was grateful for, with all of these women, was reaffirmation of how much we really do love and value one another.  

And that, with communication and willingness to be flexible; making changes that best serve our common growth, we can always come back together to the truth of: 

‘Though we might make mistakes, we are not ones.’

Yeah, are these women the same people they were before these epiphanies?

You betcha.

Will I be rankled by their particular brand of interaction in the future?


I still get the ‘here’s-how-to-get-through-it better’ advice to ‘Wear a bright color today’ or ‘Keep busy so you don’t have to dwell on it,’ or ‘Red shoes always make me happy.  Try donning your Happy Shoes.’

It’s becoming a litany of outrageousness in the face of so many people in our country who are facing what we are and worse. This cavalier, out of touch repartee defies taking any of it personally.  Though much of it smacks of the thoughtlessness of people who say how great the dead person in the coffin looks or who urges the bereaved to get out there instead of feeling their feelings and acknowledging their loss, I know the heart means well.

I’ll ‘dial back’ my feelings of wanting to strangle the chipped chipperness and remember that underlying intention.

Will I be tempted to want them to behave in ways that make me feel easier?

No doubt about it.

Will I go over and over in my head what I want to say to them to insure my comfortability?

Yes, and I won’t speechify any of that projecting.

Will I communicate my personal boundaries as needed or when things change?

Yes, and hopefully, as gaps may open, not weeks or months after the fact.


We are works of art in progress and our friendship, like any vessel with good essential bone structure, is worth upkeep and occasional renovation as we sail seas, soft and stormy, on the ‘HMS Relationship.’

The gift in the grime of great challenge these friends gave me was being exactly who they are.  

They each have their own special light to bestow. 

They bless me in ways I embrace and repel; like and can hardly abide; which cosset and rub raw.  

They make me question, laugh, cry, and scream.  Ultimately they give me the most amazing variety of experiencing gratitude for their being exactly who they are in all their glum, glam and glory.

And there they are, this troupe of treasures, who trip over their own tongues, harpoon and hold me with their rough hewn and hand polished brands of caring; who dig me out of my dungeon of despair with their tempers, touches and telepathy and individually enrich me with their authenticity and unique, unconditional love.

The wrapping paper may be crummy at times but the present within is always priceless.

With all their thorns, soft petals and colors, I’m grateful for these women I call friends and, may Higher Power keep helping me release wanting things as I think they should be, I wouldn’t change any of them for the world.

For each of them; who they are, as they are, I am, down here in the gravel, simply grateful.

WTF Next?

March 10, 2007

by Florence Ondré

First it was Pluto not being a planet any more and now it’s screwing with time.

Are these the latest stupid human tricks or can we not find something larger to do with our shpielkes?

Can’t that overactive energy be channeled into something more beneficial like creating a better education system which truly motivates organic skills and talents beyond rote and is available for all children in this country?

Can man be still for one moment and appreciate what is without having to jiggle their legs up and down like a plugged in electrical dandling machine going no where fast?

We’ve all seen people sitting down; one leg still moving up and down like a racing engine idling in neutral. Why not go further with that available energy? Better than windmills, what about recycling the idea of people standing at their desks on treadmills? Why hasn’t our government or think tanks thought about hooking them up to power generators? That alone could have corporations making their own power and helping us out with our energy crunches. Of course there’d have to be a little something-something extra in the paycheck or as corporations often do in lieu, a new title might have to be bestowed. Now, that is green usage of alternative energy sources.
But then there would be the tangles of how to market, outsource, monitor and manage the whole ferschlugginer thing. After all waste is a terrible thing to mind.

Is it just me or could our energy and time be put to better use?

Wouldn’t you rather see a cure for cancer, AIDS or a multitude of other diseases which have had people waiting years and lifetimes for a glimpse of help from science and scientists?

Bending time to suit a few humans; downgrading age old planets, yeah, that’s where I want my tax dollars to go for research and lawmaking. Yup. That’s where I want my representatives in government to focus.

Forget trivial things like top quality healthcare, and housing for everyone. Let’s get Congress to declare more paid holidays so we can enjoy that extra daylight they’ve just rearranged for us. War? Well, hey, there’s more daylight to see your enemy in. Oil gouging? Wait a sec. There’ll be less energy usage because you won’t have to put the lights on in your house as much, even though the same amount of SUV’s and trucks will be guzzling gas, lining pockets of oil robber barons and fuming up the atmosphere. Safety on those highways and byways? Material for plugging up the potholes in our roads? Sorry. No new research or materials there. We’re busy with the business of tinkering with time.

Don’t get me wrong. I can certainly smile at humans shifting the light to give everyone more of that commodity. Who of us couldn’t use more light in our lives? I can hear Angels laughing as we “lighten up.”

I do have concerns though.

Halloween is gonna be all messed up. There won’t be enough dark for the trick or treaters now that Congress has put this massive effort and funding into moving minutes around like tiles on a game board. You know how woosie it is to dress up like a vampire with the sun still shining.

I’d just like to see all that energy, science and funding go toward creating peace on this planet one day soon…that is IF Earth still is a planet.

You never do know…..tick tick tick.

The Price Of Winter Fun

February 19, 2007

by Florence Ondré

Extra pain meds per day for those aches which tell you some precipitation is coming- and soon: Pennies

Fines for those overdue library books that couldn’t be returned because of the latest snowstorm which took a surprising new approach from the forecaster’s prediction: Nickels

Gas use incurred for forgetting half of what was on shopping list and having to go back out in sleet- one more time: Dimes

Parking in the city- if you can find an available one without mountains of black snow in it: Quarters

Running out of toilet tissue- in the middle of a blizzard: A few dollars —for paper and gas.

Extra food bought and wasted because the weatherperson said there was a blizzard coming and only rain showed up: $20 to $30 plus

Toilet repair needed because the innards kept secretly pumping water into the tank nonstop for months: $300

Sewer bill for the unnoticed extra water flow: $100 -per month

Leaking roof over one room of house: $980

Repair two months after for same leaking roof in the middle of a Nor’easter, plus windows and storm door damages: Thousands

Going outside barefoot in subzero temps, tripping and fracturing one’s own foot – on top of years of medical bills for spinal injury and still going strong: Hundreds of thousands

A mountain of Arrgghh! to go with: Pricless!

Daring? Do!

January 6, 2007

by Florence Ondré

When Thomas Paine said, “He who dares not offend cannot be honest,” you could be shot for opening your mouth and laying your truth on the line.

Today, you can just be shot down by people who either don’t get what you’re saying or can’t hear and go selectively deaf when you describe your experience.

Different still gets a whack on the head and sometimes by your nearest and dearest. (more…)

H2-OH No You Didn’t!

November 18, 2006


As seen just outside the Ski and Snowboard Expo at Qwest Field Arena.

Hey asshole, if your car mindless behemoth is too big for a parking spot that is appropriately sized for the rest of humanity, this might not be the best way to “compensate.”

From Florence: Thanks Courtney at Seattlest for another whopping WTF.

And may I add that, to my knowledge, flipping of the earth’s axis hasn’t yet occurred (tho many sci fi writers have described this end of the world scenario where a hummer – of any kind – would be a handy thing to have for survival in the frozen wasteland) nor have we become the outback of anywhere.

I know the tough urban streets may feel like a fight for life during rush hour traffic but if I see you out there in your big ass monster machine, hogging the pavement, I’m bound to flash you the “What Could You Be Thinking?” card. (It says WTF on the flipside.)

I envision a phalanx of motorized wheelchair-bound people slapping chains on this sucker and hauling the hunk o junk to the dump while gaily humming, “We Shall Overcome or Aint No Mountain High Enough.”

Imagine the lyrical look of duh on the selfish egomaniac owner’s face when he comes out to find the reflection of his blank look mirroring up from the concrete. “Now where did I park my johnson-oops-expression of my lack of self-oops-roadhog-oops-vehicle?”

Well, buddy, when you find it (if you do), haul on up to the north forty. The fields need a plowin, the tractor’s broke and the horse won’t pull.

Now there’s a use for an ass.

LineRider – WTF

October 14, 2006

Some days ya just have to say WTF and, like this little one, go have fun where ya find it!
Thanks Matt for your great sense of joy and humor. (See his other LineRider works as scudly on

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