“Enter when you will, take what you need, leave something of yourself when you go”
I have a friend I met over a bottle of scotch in a Brandywine Valley bed & breakfast some odd years ago who travels constantly and widely, sending me bits and pieces of the world as he goes. Each picture contains a sense of mystery, or surprising humor, and/or most likely the bicycle he rode in on.
I forget where he said he shot this wide planked shack. It is intriguing, don’t you agree? The sun and scattered leaves promise it is a bright, brisk day, yet, I wonder what musty odor fills your nose when you poke your head through the door, what scurrying varmint lives in the corners, what fingers grab your ankle once you cross the threshold and the heavy door slowly shuts out the light, the long, strong boards slide through the door handle locking you inside…
… you go first…I am right behind you…
This remodeled library is a glorious expanse, with airy, tall ceilings enveloping the shelves, and any number of comfortable chairs, high backed and low, set near the fireplace, or the magazines; some alone, some angled in pairs in cozy corners overlooking the trees, some clustered to encourage whispered conversations and hand covered giggles while sharing a favorite paragraph, or chapter.
There is everything you could want in this great new space. Large conference rooms, small glass front offices with screens and white boards begging for graphs and tables. Everything you could want, or need, or dream about, including privacy in an otherwise public area.
So tell me, Dude with the scruffy, long beard, and the grunge covered jeans, old boots and whatever else you hauled in with you, why did you think you had an invitation to push into my corner against my egg shaped cocoon chair, pile your newspapers on the table in front of me, then unceremoniously settle your arse in the chair touching mine, letting out a sigh as though I should look at and/or speak to you?
I was in the library alone by design. Lord knows I was not there to save anyone, speak to anyone, acknowledge anyone. I was there for a few minutes just to take some time to think and read in a beautiful, comfortable place. I know for a fact that there were at least fifty other empty chairs available…at least fifty. I briefly waited to see if you realized I was sitting there. Surely you did, and just as certainly, I realized you intended to continue to sit there. Rude douche. You must be related to those people in the grocery store who see you studying the spice rack, then elbow in front of you, rather than going around, to grab their can of red beans. Or those inconsiderate chicks who stand right next to you at clothing store, checking out the clothes YOU are holding in your hand.
You, Interloper, drove me from my magazine article about saving my fatty liver to the fiction section to find a Tami Hoag, or a Stephen King to calm myself with a horror filled murder or two. And now I am home, in my own comfortable chair, by my own toasty fireplace, still fuming, and hoping your skin develops boils, and your scruff is filled with gnats. Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, as they say, I shall never encounter you near me ever again.
Amen, and hallelujah for lonesome spots in the world where you can sit in peace while contemplating your very own navel.
It must be a five,
else I’ll never finish it.
That book I just chose.
rJo Herman 4/14/19
But sometimes, a northbound train hauling strange and unusual objects such as huge, blue airplane bodies, no wings, no tails, just long, pointy nosed tubes, making everyone stop, stare, and wonder whips up the rails with seeming abandon, leaving us with much to cheer and exclaim about for a day or two.
rJo Herman 4/10/19
Once, driving home to Denver from Gillette by way of Buffalo —
All the windows open to that wild Wyoming wind —
I embraced that lovely, lonesome road,
Relishing the thought I was the lone world survivor.
But as I sang along with Garth, as loudly as I could sing,
‘Bout all my friends in low, low places,
I chanced a look east across the plains,
And there in the middle of a wide, open basin,
Taking my breath clean away,
Stood a bison, shoulders tall, beard blowing.
Clearly the King of all he surveyed.
And I was humbled,
And hushed to awed silence, before I whooped and hollered
At the wonders of God’s creation.
Life is good!
rJo Herman 4/3/19
There once was an April Fools Day,
When no one could think what to say.
They chuckled, and muttered.
They chortled, and stuttered,
And they missed all the tricks of the day.
Limerick 4/1/19 rJo Herman
One spring morning in Sacramento, when I was in first grade, I brushed my teeth, got all dressed, then went into the kitchen where Mom and Dad were talking over coffee. While I ate my toast, Mom brushed and braided my hair, and Dad asked me what time it was. I was very proud that I had learned to tell time, uh-hunh.
The clock said it was eight o’clock.
I HAD TO BE AT SCHOOL IN MY DESK AT EIGHT O’CLOCK?
“OH NO! I’m late! I’m late!”
I wailed and cried, ran into my room for my shoes, blubbering all the way.
Mom and Dad called, “Hurry, hurry, hurry!”
I quickly made my bed, grabbed my books, glanced at the clock radio next to my bed…
Looked again, then stomped my foot, “Auugh!”
Back in the kitchen I looked from Mom to Dad,
“Why does the clock in my bedroom say it is only SEVEN o’clock?!”
Dad grinned at Mom.
“April Fools!” They hollered together.
“THAT IS NOT FUNNY! YOU ARE NOT FUNNY!”
They were holding onto each other, laughing, enjoying the joke.
“We’re sorry. Don’t be mad. We turned the clock ahead as a joke! Just a joke. You are not late!”
I huffed out the door and dramatically sobbed and muttered all the way down 8th Avenue to Donner Elementary on Stockton Blvd, then spent the rest of the day pulling pranks on other kids in my class. In all these many years since, I have never thought of a better April Fools Day prank than that first one pulled by my bratty Mom and Dad. HA!
You will succumb. Who would not be intrigued by a small, taut, razor slashing Russian woman pilot with great loyalty and faith in those she loved traveling by any means around war torn Europe? Who would not wonder about the history of the lovely German stepmother, who appears out of nowhere to wheedle her way into the hearts and lives of a respected Boston antiques dealer and his loving daughter? And why would a pair of young, handsome, dedicated Nazi-hunters with little money and reckless plans not peak your interest?
Slowly, with smoothly wrought prose, vivid descriptions, gripping action, the stories weave together, winding tighter and tighter around you, the willing reader. You feel them begin to constrict, but you do nothing to escape. You eventually refuse to shower, and eat (though a glass of chilled late harvest Riesling boosts your resolve to finish) until you’ve read through to the satisfying ending.
READ THIS! You will fight the urge to scream warnings! You’ll shake your head in disbelief, cover you mouth in disgust…and in the end, you’ll be glad you took the time for this adventure!
Here’s the thing:
I have always been a writer. Poems about my family, stories about my friends. Commentary on every nit-picking thing. I have studied writing, read a ton of books about writing, met authors, worked prompts, wadded up reams and reams of paper.
Yes, I have always written. However, writing has always been my personal retreat, my head clearing, soul searching, psychoanalytical practice. I have even been published a couple-three times – letters to the Denver Post editor, church and business newsletters, an article in the local HUB about services for elderly veterans, a charitable anthology about fear, an article in an e-magazine about peonies. I have copies of all these things. I even won a poetry contest in the ninth grade at Drake Junior High – Drake Dragons Rule! My poem was about laughter. “…what is remembered long before and long after? Why, my friends, it is always the laughter.” I do not have a copy of that, but I do remember the excitement of winning.
I have written diaries, thrown the angriest and most frightful away. For a period, when I was a young mother, extremely stressed about getting a divorce from a mean, slapping drunk, and wondering how the hell I would survive, and how to ensure my daughter was safe, warm, and fed, when I had no idea how to work, or feed myself, I wrote furiously, filling every white space I could find – envelopes, match books, napkins, book margins. Obsessed. I read once about a woman who had a similar frenetic writing syndrome. She went through therapy, was given medication, and lost her inclination and ability to write. I did not want to do that, so when I went to therapy, I spoke only about the things I was willing to give up. Writing was not one of them.
So, I write. So do many. The thing is, I have never, until now, made the choice and decision to depend on my writing for income. I decided in February, after retiring from making mortgage loans after forty-two years, I would write stories for fun and profit. I collected all the books, and notes from classes, and lists of procedures about organizing, and simplifying, and becoming a published, no, not just published, a PAID writer. I was aided and inspired in this decision by reading an interview with a well known author who said with the money she made on her first novel, she purchased a ranch, with several hundred acres, where she has lived and worked for two decades. She did that in her twenties, smart girl. I want to do that. I never want to live in a corporate environment ever again. Ever.
So this morning, when I awoke on this first Monday of March, 2019, knowing full well that I must initiate my writing “career,” with no more excuses, I felt that clutch in my gut I used to get when I was a commissioned loan officer, wondering whether or not enough loans would close this month to pay me next month. That clutch in my gut when I had to not only focus on the loans submitted and waiting to close, but I had to get out and generate new business, new loans, make new contacts, fill my pipeline for the future. The loans always closed; new loans were found; the pipeline was always full as long as I worked at it.
I know I am on the right track – or should I say the write track. If this were not a serious decision, if I were just playing with the idea, I would not have felt that clutch. I would not consider it serious enough to panic about how, what, when, and where the ideas will arrive along with the income they will produce. But this is it. I am all in. Panic is good motivation, as is hunger, and keeping a roof over your head- coin in your pocket.
God, save my soul, and guide my mind and hands to write what people want to pay to read. May my writing bring joy and satisfaction to my readers, my family, and me, and may it make a positive difference in the lives of those who choose to read me. Let only good come from this endeavor. And please let the clutch be minimal. Amen.