Monthly Archives: August 2018

The Missing Font

Now and then, I see someone lament that social media lacks a “sarcasm font”.  I’ve probably bemoaned this oversight a time or two myself.  Several weeks ago, a neighbor told me that she defaults to sarcasm.  I studied her face for a long moment before tendering the only reply that seemed appropriate:  “Good to know.”

My friend Katrina once disclosed that she never uses sarcasm.  Her parents had apparently been Quaker; they taught her not to be sarcastic.  Perhaps it came down as an unspoken rule by virtue of example.  Whether she has continued to withstand the onslaught of negativity and hold fast to her commitment, I cannot say.  I wouldn’t blame her if she gave way to the occasional disgusted eye roll in the face of current events.

On Wednesday, I asked a young friend how the first day of classes had gone.  She shrugged; I understood this to be code for “ask me more, I’ll tell you about my awful experience”.  I contemplated leaving the subject, but relented.  I got five  minutes of sarcastic criticism of the professor for my trouble.  I listened with as much patience as I could muster.

Finally I moved away, leaving her standing with a slight lingering frown. I realized that perhaps social media deliberately avoided including a “sarcastic font”.  People seem to find their own way of expressing their disgruntled feelings of rank superiority to the rest of us.  I’m beginning to think Katrina’s parents had the right idea.

As for myself, I have a tiny house to clean.  A pile of mostly junk mail from Missouri requires sorting.  The recycle box must be taken to be emptied, and I want to shoot a few pictures of the marina.  But first, breakfast; the New York Times; and a fresh pot of coffee.

It’s the thirty-first day of the fifty-sixth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.


What doesn’t kill you

Years and years and years ago, I dated a man who would constantly tell me that what I couldn’t cure, I must endure.  He would follow that wisdom with the solemn avowal that what didn’t kill me would make me stronger.

I’d throw a straw at him and tell him to stop being so cheerful.

As I drove south on HIghway 5 last night, the setting sun to my right, I thought about that man.  I remembered our times together, but I also contemplated the decades after we parted.  I heard of him; his happy marriage, his beloved child, his tragic death.  We did not see each other but I kept track of him.  I had a sense of what his life brought to him;  where his days took him; what he made of the chances which came his way.

He never knew that I took his platitudes to heart.  I live my life in pithy sayings.  I put my best foot forward.  I grin and bear it.  I strive to let a smile be my umbrella.  I wove that wonderful lot of melodic advice together. I spun it into silk and from it, I fabricated a shawl which I wrap around my shoulders as I stand and watch the evening stars.

In a few days, I will take myself to the sea.  I will gaze on my beloved Pacific, letting her breezes wash over me.  As the sun sets, I will cloak myself in the fabric of my life and settle into a chair by the cliffs.  I will turn 63 as the sun rises, as the voice of the ocean calls, as the birds rise from her rolling waves.  I will feel stronger.  I will feel as though I have, after all, endured.

It’s the thirtieth day of the fifty-sixth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.


When the sun rose this morning, I dragged myself out of bed to see it.  I beat the alarm by a few minutes. I woke to another Monday in paradise, sixty degrees at six a.m. and an impeccably clear sky.

I’m still astonished by the sorrow which I felt at the passing of a great statesman this past weekend.  I didn’t follow John McCain’s entire career, but I knew enough of him to feel deep admiration.  On the heels of his death came another unexpected and sad one: that of the playwright Neil Simon.  It seems an era in which I feel comfortable threatens to close its door.

I don’t necessarily identify with either man, though  I can acknowledge that each, in his own way, contributed to the betterment of our world.

I’m more of a Tennessee Williams person, dark, deep, and a little warped.  But I have my sunny side and for reasons that I cannot articulate, a glow followed me south, to Palo Alto, where I waited like a sheep for my turn at the cardiology trough.  Slap and tickle; pronounced stable; sent on my way just in time for rush hour.  Ah, well:  I took myself out to an excellent vegan dinner; then down the street for an indulgent dessert with coffee and a little background music to send me northeast and Delta-bound.

As I sit here contemplating life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, I remember meeting a young barrista here named Tiffany Flores.  She’s since moved back to her home state — Washington, I think; north in any event.  I have met so many people on my various visits to California.  It seems that I spun a whole web of connections out here.  Maybe I’ve stretched taught strings on which to play some tender serenade.  Or perhaps I’ve constructed a stepping stone path of piano keys.  I need a new soundtrack for my life, something other than the dirge which has followed me for decades.

I heard an interview today with a woman who has written a book about how getting a dog saved her from depression.  Her description of her pre-canine mood resonated with me.  She talked about feeling worthless and not wanting to interact with anyone.  She felt that she would be judged and found grossly deficient.  I heard much of my attitude for my entire life in her words.  I found myself driving and shaking my head.  I kept asking myself, How do we get to the point at which we reject ourselves in anticipation of feared condemnation by those around us?  

Ah well.  Finish the coffee, rise, exit the store.  Start the engine; put the car in gear; hit the road. I’m not quitting now, so what can I do but pull myself up by my bootstraps and go?

It’s the twenty-seventh day of the fifty-sixth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

Martina McBride:  “This One’s for the Girls”


“I meant to do my work today”

“I Meant to Do My Work Today”
by Richard Le Gallienne

I meant to do my work today—
But a brown bird sang in the apple tree,
And a butterfly flitted across the field,
And all the leaves were calling me.

And the wind went sighing over the land,
Tossing the grasses to and fro,
And a rainbow held out its shining hand—
So what could I do but laugh and go?



It’s still the twenty-sixth day of the fifty-sixth month of My Year Without Complaining. 

Life still continues, in the beautiful California Delta.  Be well.

No thanks needed. But many given.

So, I need to start keeping a list of all the people who have hoisted me from the ground.  Today’s shout-out goes to Paul Flaner, who saw my backwards trip on the board in front of the door to my house.  He darted quickly from the RV in which he and his beautiful wife Macrina live.  In a thrice-twinkling, I stood again.  He retrieved my crystal mug and adjusted the offending board.

Anyone can stumble on a make-shift threshold, but no one flies with the awkward grace and unimpeded power of a crippled girl.  I think my tumble frightened Paul more than it scared me.  “That was exciting!” I proclaimed, as I eased my bruised body back into Angel’s Haven.  I must have sounded giddy as I effusively thanked Paul.  “No thanks needed,” he quietly said.  Needed?  Maybe not.  Given?  Absolutely.

So here’s today’s thanks, and it might come as no surprise.  Thank you to Macrina, for marrying Paul; to the lot assignors at Park Delta Bay for putting them next to me; and last but certainly not least, to Paul for his quick scurrying over to my house and his two strong arms which lifted me with so little effort from the ground.

If I ever win an Academy Award, I’ve going to have a long list of people to thank for my continued survival, if not my personal success.  In the mean time, I’ve got  a fresh cup of coffee and chores to do.  Happy Sunday, everyone.

It’s the twenty-sixth day of the fifty-sixth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.





Corinne’s Fifth Annual Fundraiser for Rose Brooks Center & SAFEHOME

As many of you know, I have been hosting fundraisers for various charities since my 50th birthday.

That fundraiser grew out of a pirate-themed birthday party which my then-husband, Dennis Lisenby; a friend, Lynn Roberts; and I threw — for me!  We used Jimmy Buffet’s “A Pirate Looks at Forty” as an inspiration.  Two weeks before my birthday, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.  My friend Joshua Dara had a church in Louisiana which harbored 1,500 refugees from Katrina.

Concerned about those refugees, Dennis, Lynn, and I decided to try to collect money to help pay for food and clothing.  We put a skull-and-cross-bones bucket on the dessert table and a sign asking for contributions.  With a generous check from Appleby’s courtesy of Patrick’s friend Colin’s mother, Bev Elving, we raised $2,000.00.

That felt damn good, so I kept having fundraisers.

For the last four years (2014 – 2017), my colleagues at Suite 100 and I hosted a fundraiser for Rose Brooks Center and SAFEHOME.  My colleagues, staff, friends, participating artists, and community members joined together to raise increasing sums to divide between the two agencies serving domestic violence survivors.  Last year, each agency got almost $2,000.00!!!

Since I’m not in Kansas City and don’t have a public art space, I’m hosting a Facebook Fundraiser for Rose Brooks Center.  Here’s the LINK for that event, to which you can donate.  I set a modest goal of $500.00, which we’ve almost met in the first 24 hours!  We can exceed this, so don’t hesitate to donate!  (That link again is HERE!!!!!)  Facebook does not charge fees.  The funds go directly to the agency designated, in this case, Rose Brooks Center.

If  you are not on Facebook, or want to just give directly to ROSE BROOKS CENTER (Missouri) or SAFEHOME (Kansas), click on the name of either in this sentence to be directed to their websites.  If you have a chance, please mention my birthday and/or “Art @ Suite 100” in your notes, so that the agencies will know that the energy from all of our past work continues.

If you live in a state or community other than the KC Metro area MO/KAN region, and prefer to give to a domestic violence shelter or agency in your own city, please do so.  Honor whomever you wish.  Credit is not the point; the point is raising funds and awareness for survivors of family violence.  Thank you.

It’s the twenty-fourth day of the fifty-sixth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.





How I spent my day.

This will be an exercise in writing about a day without complaining.  This post also offers me several chances to share joyful encounters.

I deliberately did not write yesterday because 21 August 2018 marked the 33rd anniversary of my mother’s death.  I felt that I could not write without waxing maudlin so I just walked alone in our Community Garden for a while in the evening and thought about my mother’s garden.  Those quiet moments soothed me.

I had a scheduled CA DMV appointment today.  I had gathered all of my paperwork (more than once) and studied the handbook.  I made the appointment in the Vacaville office.  Vacaville sits about 35 miles northwest of my home.  I wanted to be sure to be on time, and also to spend an extra hour just reading the handbook over again.  I did not want to have to make the trip twice; and my Missouri license expires on my birthday in two weeks.

I got to Vacaville at noon, pulling into the DMV parking lot.  I searched on Google-map for a restaurant near me, and found only a Mongolian BBQ / Buffet.  I didn’t want to drive very far, so I chanced it.

The waiter approached me as I moved to sit down.  He asked what I wanted to drink.  “Hot tea,” I replied.

“No hot tea,” he stated.

“None?”  He shook his head.

“Then, coffee, please,” I amended.

“No coffee,” he replied.

I studied his face, then glanced around.  No tea in a Chinese restaurant?  And no coffee, two doors from the DMV in the only restaurant on the strip?  I asked what they did have, and the waiter said, “Soda.”

I asked again about tea, for reasons i cannot articulate.  This time, he said, “Tea will take ten minutes.”  I stared, but did not retort. I merely ordered the tea.

The buffet had nothing for a vegetarian except steamed rice, fruit, and some dubious cut vegetables.  I took some of each.  By the time I returned to the table, my tea had arrived in a heavy china pot with a nearly clean mug.  The tea turned out to be Lipton.  I ate what I had taken, to my stomach’s chagrin.  By the time I left, I had a serious case of heart burn.  I tipped 15%.  He did, after all, relent on the tea.

At the door of the DMV, a tall cheerful man inquired as to my needs.  I explained, and he burst into a sunny laugh.  “Let me review your paperwork,” he asked, as though he genuinely desired the task.  He found all in order, though one eyebrow raised at the address proof (bank statement, per list) which had only “Corinne”, without the first half — i.e., the “Mary”. But I had both passport and birth certificate so he let the discrepancy slide.  He sent me to a terminal to complete an application and get a queue number.  I had been there exactly five minutes.  The application took another five, and I presented myself to the correct line as instructed.  The designation read, “Appointments”.  Nice!  I assure you that the non-appointment folks looked envious.

The woman attending to our line seemed even more excited to be doing her job than the kid at the door.  I wondered if the legalization of marijuana might be influencing everyone’s mood but frankly, did not care.  If they’re happy to be here, that’s all that matters.  Only two people stood in front of me, and our clerk got them on their way within minutes.  I’d been in the place for less than half an hour, and I felt good about my progress.

She had me touch my thumb to a monitor, reviewed my paperwork, and sent me over to wait for the next attendant.

That fellow took my fingerprint again for the Real-ID feature of the CA driver’s license.  He scanned my documents, and mentioned that his 91-year-old grandfather lives in Missouri.  Near Ferguson, to be precise.  I shared my heritage from nearby Jennings, and we talked about Missouri for a few minutes, and his grandfather, and his great-uncle who just turned 94.  Then he sent me over to have my picture taken.

I didn’t realize what had happened until my left hand jammed against the floor and I heard a lady say, “She tripped on the rug, I saw it.”

Indeed.  (No, please don’t comment — “are you okay?”  because I am).  I felt someone grab my arm and shout, “You’re all right!  I’m going to get you up!”  and I pitched my voice low to answer:  “please let go of my arm”.  I resisted being hoisted from the floor before I had assessed my condition.  A male voice said, “Ma’am, we’ll take care of it,” which I presume had been addressed to the customer jerking on my arm. I felt her hands fall away.  The same male voice then dropped an octave to inquire what I needed.  Thank God, I thought.  Someone sensible!

I heard the young man who had greeted me ask if he should get water.  I restrained myself from laughing.  Always water!  The other guy said, “Sure, sure, that would be fine.”  I focused on this calm presence.  I said, “Okay, just so you know, I am disabled, I fall a lot, and I know how to get up.  Are you willing to help me in a very specific way?”  He nodded and instructed me to tell him exactly what I wanted him to do.  Within a few seconds, I had gotten vertical and beheld both my assistant and the clock.  I’d been in the place for less than 45 minutes.

My savior set about helping me check for blood and breaks.  As we stood there, a short, heavy woman bustled between us and brushed him aside.  “I’m the manager,” she snapped.  She grabbed my paperwork and copied parts of my name onto a paper.  “Hun, is anything broken,” she inquired, in what I assume she meant as an efficient tone.  I said that I didn’t think so.  She asked, “Do you want medical care?”  I shook my head.  She said, “Fine. That’s all I need.  Refused medical care. Noted.”  And she bustled back off again.

We resumed our triage.  When we determined that I seemed to be intact, the man guided me to the “take your picture” line, and told me he would wait for me.  Two customers said, “You’re the lady who fell,” to which I admitted.  One asked, “Are you all right?” and when I said that I was, indeed, all right, she followed her question with this compliment:  “I really like your dress.”

I stood for a few minutes in the picture line.  When my turn came, the woman gently told me, “I saw you fall.  You went down hard.  You’re a brave soul for getting right back up.”  Then she took my picture and sent me over to the line waiting for the Knowledge Test computer.  A woman in one of two available chairs stood and waved me into the seat.  I thanked her.

Just about then, a fire-truck screeched to a halt outside the office, with an ambulance right behind it.  Somebody looked at me and remarked that the paramedics would probably want to take my blood pressure, beings as how I had fallen.  I shrugged.  But the manager lady bustled out again, walking right by the spot on which I stood without acknowledging me. She went outside, shooed away the emergency crew, and bustled right back into the place and through a door which she locked behind herself.

I quietly waited for the computer on which I was to take the Knowledge Test to secure my Driver’s License.  When my turn came, i got 35 out of 36.  I turned from the terminal and my escort guided me to the next line.  I had been there about an hour.

Window 1 had gone on break, so Window 2 would be helping those of us who needed the Window 1 services alternating between the two lines.  I talked to an 18-year-old who announced that he had passed his first driving test!  Then another man said, “You’re the girl who fell, right?” and I again admitted to my identity.  “You fell pretty good,” he told me.  I couldn’t tell if he meant to applaud my skills or gauge the force with which I hit the ground.  I  just smiled.

Finally, the Window 2 guy took my thumbprint, read my test results, had me sign two or three pieces of paper, and punched a hole in my Missouri license.  He presented me with a temporary CA Driver’s License, promising the real deal in eight to ten days.  I took a little bow in the direction of the room at large, and called out my thanks to the man who had lifted me from the floor.  I walked out of the building exactly 75 minutes after I had entered, the proud possessor of the legal right to operate a motor vehicle in the state of California.  And only a little bruised, not counting my ego.

It’s the twenty-second day of the fifty-sixth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.



In which I am reminded of the very definition of insanity.

Today I spent 75 minutes looking for papers for which I previously searched over a six-month period in two separate states.  I found them today inside a book which I had put in the under-bed storage compartment of my tiny house.  Last time, I found them inside one of my mother’s sewing manuals in a box of books at my Kansas City storage unit.  I sense a trend.

Insanity being defined as doing the same thing repeatedly expecting different results, I can honestly admit that I must in fact be insane.  Every mistake that I’ve made in my 62 years and 11.5 months comprises a repeated pattern.  This applies to every level of error, along the spectrum of significance.  I don’t learn.  I keep failing at the same endeavors in the same sad way.

I can handle other people’s problems with acumen and objectivity. My own difficulties pose seemingly insurmountable challenges.  I admit that.  I don’t even shrug anymore.

But I did find the missing items.  They sit safely in an obvious and accessible location.  I need them on Wednesday.  I’m shopping for a fire-safe lock-box, into which these papers shall be placed after they serve their current purpose.  Can one teach an old dog new tricks?  Possibly not, as I’ve recently observed.  But I aim to keep hammering away at the iceberg, hoping to push it out of the way and sail unimpeded to the open sea.

It’s the twentieth day of the fifty-sixth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.


Old Dog / New Tricks

I learned some valuable lessons today.

First:  If you have two means of elevating yourself to the level of a task, choose the one which takes you closer to your work.

Second:  The decision to put the REW / FWD button right under the natural resting place for one’s thumb on an electric screwdriver provides an opportunity for mishap.

Third: Reaching above one’s head to do a task creates an inadequate angle for efficiency.

Fourth: If no one hears you swear, it never happened.

Fifth: A bit driven through a finger will produce an enormous amount of blood.

It’s the nineteenth day of the fifty-sixth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.


“The wound is the place where the light enters you.”  — Rumi


People keep telling me that what I want and need will appear.  soon.  Patience, they counsel.  It will happen.  Most of these kind well-intentioned souls already have those provisions which I lack:  A job, true love, good health, published works of authorship.  Me, I’ve stretched for each of those accomplishments and failed at most of them.  I can only claim three decades of employment because I started my own law firm.

This afternoon, I left off fretting about the state of the country to fiddle with a Japanese puzzle box.  A client, Hidemi Matsuzaki, gave two of these to me years ago.  I had seen her open one of them but not for a long time.  I put the boxes away during an attempt to purge clutter in 2011, and found them when I packed for my move to California.  One of them sits on the bookshelf in my writing loft.

I couldn’t remember much about Hidemi’s instructions.  In her melodic voice she cautioned, “Be patient.”  I knew that each key to unlocking the puzzle had to be moved in tiny increments, gently, with respect for the integrity of the whole.

It took me thirty minutes.

When I had eased the lid from the box, I sat gazing at the empty inner compartment.  I felt as much satisfaction as though I’d found what I so desperately seek inside the pretty wooden vessel.  I sat for a few minutes, the box in my hands, staring out my window.  Then I closed the box, which I discovered takes as much patience as gaining entry.

I set it back on the shelf, and went downstairs to make a cup of tea.

It’s the seventeenth day of the fifty-sixth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.