Monthly Archives: June 2015

One more thing about which I’m not complaining

In the fall of my second year of law school,  the law firm of Crouch, Crouch, Spangler & Douglas hired me to clerk for one of the partners.  The firm had been charged with the task of figuring out what had happened in a particular bank in southeastern Missouri.  To make a long story quite short, indiscretions involving Certificates of Deposit had occurred and bank examiners would be arriving.

I drove to and from Harrisonville for a few months.  After getting lost in a heavy snow, I started looking for  a clerkship closer to home.  I got offered a job at a firm called Rea, Chamberlin & Russell which at the time owned a building on the east side of Westport not far from my apartment.

Before I could start work, though, I got run over by a car.

I got out of the hospital six weeks after the accident and spent another three months trying to save my second year of law school.  By the end of the summer, I felt ready to work and approached Loren Rea, one of the partners in the firm which had offered me a clerkship on the very day of my accident.  To my surprise, he had held my job despite the six-month delay.

I began work at the firm in September of 1982.  I had my own office and a brass name plate on the door.

I worked for the firm until the September that I passed the bar.  Loren and Judy Rea threw me a party at local bar owned by a friend/client of theirs.  Loren swore me into the Missouri bar and signed my certificate.

New license in hand, I opened my first solo practice.  I hung the brass name plate that I had taken with me at the end of my clerkship.  I got a part-time job as a city prosecutor.  Two years later, I took a full-time position as an assistant county prosecutor and put my name plate in a drawer.  I carried that brass plaque from town to town and job to job but never had a place for it or a need for it.  Even in the practice that I’ve had for the last twenty-two years, there has been no need for a name plate with a full-time front-office person to show clients to my office door.

This spring, my friend Pat Reynolds started trying to convince me that my Clay County clients would appreciate my having a small satellite office in Liberty.  I found her arguments persuasive.  Though I will always have my main base in Westport at Suite 100, on June 1st,  I moved into the Liberty Law Office building at 17 W. Kansas, a block west of the Liberty square.

As one of my opening gambits to my new Northland adventure, I dusted off the brass name plate.  It’s a little scratched and tarnished, but I’m not complaining.


Nothing like a good piece of cheesecake

For the last few weeks, personal problems besieged me.  I’ve discovered that my world falls into three distinct areas:  Work, Health, Life.  The paradigm of three applies — I can have two of them together and going well at a time, but not all three.  Sometimes, it seems that I can’t even get one of the three on track.

On the heels of a wildly successful art opening, I found my health and personal life wobbling.  This pattern culminated in a couple of real humdingers of conundrums though the swift, decisive and generous intervention of a couple of folks who love me solved the worst of them.

The two-week period left my nerves jangled.  Late today, I had a message from Ms. Jennifer Helene Rosen, who came to my further rescue with the allure of potting jade plants, seeing the ongoing reno in her new digs, and cheesecake.  Cheesecake!  Who can resist?

So we had a healthy and inexpensive dinner at Zoe’s Kitchen, then did a little work before heading to the Cheesecake Factory just down the  hill from Jenny’s new Plaza apartment.  I told her of the problems that plagued me, the saviors who stepped up to help me, and my quest to handle it all while still staying positive, at which I felt had failed miserably.  Then Jenny ordered us a couple of pieces to share; we ended up demolishing the lemon raspberry. Jenny took the chocolate home with her.  As I watched her sashay up to her apartment building, I realized that a smile had found its way to my face and not because of the influx of white sugar.

The combined love of the three folks who reached out to me today had brought me back to a place where I felt not one little temptation to complain, though I did try to explain to the lady who seated us that she shouldn’t talk over people.  Fortunately, she  spoke very little English.

The lesson for this week?  There’s nothing like a good piece of cheesecake and a trio of caring friends to help restore one’s determination to accentuate the positive.

My smile comes from knowing that people truly care about me.  The pretty scarf came from the lovely Ms. Jennifer Helene.

My smile comes from knowing that people truly care about me. The pretty scarf came from the lovely Ms. Jennifer Helene.

From the throne of Queen Corinne

Posted here for my followers who are not also on Facebook:

A friend, Bunny Gray, introduced me to The Queen Code, which I peruse whenever I get a chance. Bunny posts various things from The Queen Code on her FB page and I always find a kernel of truth if not more and a connection to my own life, in what she shares. Today in perusing the QC FB page, I found the below-appearing saying along with a beautiful quote from Maya Angelou.

Now, please:  Don’t think this is a sideways stab at a failed friendship or a situation that didn’t work out, because nothing of the sort sprang to mind when I saw this quote!!!

What this saying prompted me to consider were the mantras of self-condemnation that I play in my head, and which I think are my biggest downfall. I defeat my best intentions by assuming that I will fail in anything I undertake unless I am doing something for someone else.  When trying to help others, I scratch until my fingers bleed trying to succeed — and even so, if I am less than 100% successful in my efforts to aid others, I castigate myself endlessly.

But when I am doing for myself — planning, budgeting, buying, creating, connecting — solely to benefit myself, I actually sabotage the efforts.   My failures in my endeavors to improve myself often stem from self-fulfilling prophecy, I think.  Somewhere deep inside, I don’t expect to succeed, so I do not.  Oh, certainly, some of my efforts would fall flat even if I believed in myself whole-heartedly.  But I don’t believe in myself, and so the percentage of failure is increased by my own lack of conviction in the potential for accomplishment.

A client who became a friend once told me that I was the only thing holding myself back from being wildly successful in all my endeavors.  I did not believe him then, but I do now.

Thank you again to Bunny Gray for sharing the QC’s FB page and to the author of the Queen Code for collecting so much inspiration in one place.  Along with many other sources of keen insight and encouragement, I’m taking this one into my heart.  “One of the hardest things in life is to admit that what I believe is real, i.e., that I am worthless, is nothing but my own lack of faith in myself; and to let go of that belief.”  And the sooner I change that belief, and see that my worthlessness is a myth that I wear around me like a shroud, the sooner this Queen will claim her throne.

Or at least, her chance to shine.

The Queen Code's photo.

Complaining about complaining about complaining

I recently found myself standing in the kitchen of my office suite holding forth about a conversation in which I had participated.  I called it “venting” and described the subject of my tirade as having babbled on and on about someone else’s negative outlook on life.  In the middle of the tirade, I realized that I was complaining about complaining about complaining.  I started to laugh.  Now instead of just learning to live my life without complaining, I need to focus on living my life without negativity of any kind.  That could take a little more adjustment, since people who voice negativity lurk around every corner.  But more to the point:  Negativity clutches my soul with its tenacious tendrils, and needs to be rooted out with vigorous effort and a sturdy spade.  This should be an interesting week.


Dawn to dusk without complaint

I started the day early, dropping junk and an old chandelier at the neighborhood Dumpster Day.  After forty-five minutes at the Y, I headed down to the basement to continue the cleaning process.  Eventually, I got in the Prius and nosed it northwards, towards Carnie’s Honker Springs Farm.  Jerry Stewart welcomed me with purple and white balloons, hung on the mailbox to herald those arriving for Ellen Carnie’s 2nd Annual Farm party.  The music and people flowed around me; children, husbands, wives, friends, guitar, piano, drums, voices.   I scooted south again an hour before sunset.  As I pulled  off Highway 71. turning west, the sun set, guiding me home after a day when everything and everyone found me joyful, without complaint.


A repurposed life

The Evanston-to-LA travelers arrived in time for a birthday dinner for Jessica at Blue Koi on 39th.  I had not seen my son since Christmas.  His relaxed mood surprised me.  For the last month, the tension of term-end projects had riddled every call with him.

Jacob, the summer roommate, tolerated our accidental labeling of him as “Andrew”.  Good spirits circled the table and livened the gathering.  Afterward, the young adults went out for drinks and other pursuits, while Addao, Jessica’s eleven-year-old son, and I — the oldster — retired to the Holmes house.

In the morning, Patrick and I shared coffee on the deck.  He described the screen play he wrote, with its hilarious sci-fi twists and turns.  We drank mellow coffee and sat among the porch plants, as we have done so many other mornings.

Then I helped Jacob and Patrick clean out the car and investigate the mysterious influx of water.  The best answer I could devise related to the car being parked for extended times in high snow banks.  No engine fluid seemed to be involved.

We got everything ruined pulled from the floor and found an old comforter to serve as protection for their belongings.  I added multiple cans of beans and bags of lentils to their food bag.  Patrick came out of the house with two old towels to use as front-seat floor protectors.  I found myself smiling.  You know what those are, right? I said to him.  A quizzical look crossed his face and I continued:  Those are the Batman capes.

The Batman capes:  Towels that Patrick and Chris Taggart had used as small boys. They tied them around their shoulders and ran from room to room.  Na na na na na na na na na na, Batman!  I succombed to temptation and told Jacob the story.  We all laughed.  Well, said Patrick, now they have  a new purpose.

Then I hugged them both and drove to my new small satellite office in Clay County, where I, too, feel somewhat repurposed.  And I’m not complaining.

Eleven o’clock and all’s well at the East Gate

I should have claimed sleep an hour ago but conversations still pended and emotions roiled.  Now I have quietened my soul. I think about Joanna who inspired this blog by her selfless acceptance of those around her. I have not visited her resting place for several weeks.  I have been traveling and I have also been daunted by the rain.  But I think of her.

By and by, I shall fetch a dozen of the roses which she loved so much, and I will lay them on her stone.  I will say, Oh, Joanna, I miss you so.  And then I will run my fingers on the headstone beside hers, beneath which the ashes of my favorite curmudgeon rest.  I will say, Jay, you old so-and-so, I didn’t bring you a cocktail.  And I will picture him smiling.  He would reply, It’s okay, honey, I know you love me.  He did say this to me, many times in his final weeks, the last time in a raspy voice two days before he passed.

It’s eleven o’clock, at the east gate to paradise, and all is well.



Some things just merit complaint

So it’s Saturday morning, the day after the big bash at Suite 100 and I’m out of coffee.

I slept horribly, woke early to write my Musings, and groused around the house trying to decide if getting coffee would be worth the effort of brushing my teeth.  I’ve already hauled a few plants off the porch onto the deck to join the others in rain-catching.  I’ve read the paper and consumed two cups of Earl Grey which did not do anything for me.

Then Jessica awakens and I tell her, I must have coffee, and she says she filled the can with the beans from the freezer.  That’s left-over decaff, I groan, and she begins to laugh uproariously.  I’ve been drinking that thinking I’m getting my coffee! she cackles and then I giggle. I tell her, I have to have some real coffee RIGHT NOW Or I swear I will start shooting people beginning with the dog.

And Jessica calls to Addao, her son, Protect Little Girl, Dao! and Addao comes running out from the back bedroom.  He stands in the doorway watching the two women of the household, caffeine-deprived wenches, whose laughter has risen, gripped their middles and erupted into the air.

Some things just merit complaint.  Being out of coffee sits in the top ten.  But I’m not complaining.  Jessica, Addao and I went to Mud Pie, where Addao had the world’s largest chocolate cookie, Jessica tried fake honey in her Almond milk latte, and I got a dark-roast Americano.  Jessica helped a lady with US Airborne license plates back out of an impossibly tight parking space, and the sun finally decided that it could conquer the weeks of rain.

Impossible not to smile in response, eh?

Impossible not to smile in response, eh?


Lying in bed, I listen to the roll of thunder.  The storm seems to be moving away from my neighborhood but I see the occasional flash of lightening.  I close my eyes and think about the 150 folks who have RSVP’ed for the Suite 100 art reception today.  I wonder if they will find the rain too daunting to venture into Westport.  A sigh escapes me.

A few minutes pass in which I find myself letting a prayer whisper through my mind.  During this brief respite, I breathe, in, out, the first moves of the yoga which keeps complete contracture in check.  The thunder rumbles in waves.

My mind wanders; perhaps I sleep.  The little chime on my phone alarm startles me.  With one finger, I silence its song.  Then another sound drifts through my window: the morning birds, twittering, chattering, talking to each other across the yard.

When I open my eyes, I swear the sun is shining.

The Holmes house deck glistens as the sun kisses the night's rainfall.

The Holmes house deck glistens as the sun kisses the night’s rainfall.

One step at a time

When I started this journey, I imagined that I would immediately foreswear and abandon all complaining and become Sunshine Lollipops and Rainbows Everywhere.  Of course, that did not happen.

My first weeks, as Jane Williams observed, consisted of talking about that regarding which I was not going to complain.  Ach, wasn’t that torture?  Self-righteous indignation about my great efforts to abandon complaining!

Then reality hit and my life took a nose dive. I got progressively weepier and more maudlin for a quarter of a year or so, seeing the world through those rose-tinted lenses which, turned on myself, warped my perception of the child formerly known as Mary.  I praised everyone in my life, found beauty in cracks in brick walls, and stumbled my way through a hot summer into a cold cold winter.

Then I got starry-eyed, spent a few months marveling over the  opportunities that life gave me and the villainy which life spared me.  I could have cancer, after all, I reasoned.  These were in the lonely days after my favorite curmudgeon died.  Oh, how I missed him! And how very blessed I felt to have had him for four so very special years, years during which I learned how good it could be to have a father.

2015 dawned bleak for me, though  Jenny Rosen helped soften the blow by orchestrating a wonderful Valentine’s Day.  As the spring progressed, I began to struggle with my image of myself, which seems to be radically different than each image held by others.  Those others — they wear the rose-colored glasses when gazing at me.

Today, I met a challenge by my physical therapist, Dr. Claude Lamoureux, French Canadian, who understands both my neurology and my psychology in ways that I don’t usually encounter in virtual strangers.  She took the promise I made to my mother — that I would walk every day of my life — and with a little raise of her eyebrows and a twinkle of her eyes, turned my perception on its head.

What good is walking, she said, if you fall?

Ah.  Excellent point.  In the immediacy, she sent me to the Hospital Gift Store with the order that I should buy socks which might help me walk.  I wore red shoes to therapy today because my mother once told me that I would find it impossible to be gloomy while wearing red shoes.  But these particular red shoes, tragically cute though they might be, insisted on leaping from my feet due to the width of their heel compared with the narrowness of mine.  Don’t fall, said Dr. Lamoureux.

I went to the gift store, and discovered that the only socks sold at this particular gift store are inspirational socks.

And so, with my new socks on my little spastic feet, I’m taking one step at a time, and resolving anew not to fall, and not to complain.