Ticket To Ride, Book 2, Chapter 31: Almost everything had fallen into place…

Loving Couple by Vickie Wade, www.vickiewade.com
Loving Couple by Vickie Wade, http://www.vickiewade.com

The painted desert can wait ‘til summer,

We’ve played this game of ‘just imagine’ long enough.

– Natalie Merchant 

Waiting. This time, hopefully. Waiting for a response to resumes sent to the islands two weeks ago in the hope of obtaining a position with one of the small publications based there. Things were different in the islands now, Morgan thought. They were opening more to the world, becoming more cosmopolitan and might offer an opportunity for a young family to realize their dreams. Life is good. Only better by hearing word from the islands. Sometimes I can feel them, taste them, smell them. Do the islands want me back? Life is good.

Morgan and Olivia had now been together for nearly a year. Their love was like a comfortable raft with one oar. And with only one oar, they had to take turns in maintaining a course. Almost everything had fallen into place.

She was able to wire her work so they could wander. And while wandering Morgan had written, written about her and the things they did, and wrote about what he hoped for.

“You’re the perfect compliment to my life.”

“And you mine.”

“Just after finishing with my therapist, I felt so completely whole. But there was this feeling, a yearning, a knowing that I could be more than whole and… well… you came into mind… and New York… the New Yorker and you’re ‘little bits.’”

“Bits and pieces… and peace.”

“Yeah peace.”

They both smiled.

“I love you.” Morgan said.

“And I you sweetie.”

Ticket To Ride, Book 2, Chapter 29: O bla dee, O bla da, life goes on…

Bathsheba by Jeanette Gittens.
Bathsheba by Jeanette Gittens.

“O bla dee, O bla da, life goes on”

– The Beatles

 

Journal Entry, 5am

Trudy, we’ve been in Barbados for nearly a year now. We felt we had to get away from America for a little while.  The Republicans are coming back in and it’s anyone’s guess where the country is headed. Morgan’s been wrestling with something that happened between he and his father some years ago. He’s mentioned a bit of it to me. Father was a vet, Vietnam, and something about an uncle that had done some inappropriate things to him. His father was a real mixed bag when Morgan was growing up, part Ghandi, part Hitler, struggling to make peace with his past while also struggling not to let his past get in the way of raising Morgan. They had a blow out when Morgan was seventeen. Morgan split and went to school, wandered for a bit, got some therapy, then sought me out. He’s been wonderful except for this dad thing. We’ve spent hours talking about it and I think it’s pretty well sorted. I think they just need to talk. His friend Psalm died about the same time, some hippy trippy character. Morgan has a way with letting characters into his life. Takes them in like strays and becomes too attached.

I’ve just finished my most recent piece for the New Yorker. It’s a goodbye to America, at least for now. We just want to be neutral for a while and Barbados feels right. Wish you were here. Somehow I feel that you are and that you always will be. And because of this I believe I can, and need, to give myself fully to the land of the living. I’m signing off now Trudy. I’ll see you when my times comes.

Ticket To Ride, Book 2, Chapter 22: I’ve been dreaming of this…

28Twenty Two

Morgan

At 4 Times Square, “The New Yorker,” he stopped and looked up. Like a fucking monster he thought. There was a revolving door in the throat of this dragon where people spun in and spun out. He knew he had to go there, turn with it. He breathed deeply through his nose, pushed his hair back and started walking slowly as if into battle. The revolving door was spinning faster now and it seemed he might have to dive. Within a few feet, in the blur of suits and dresses spinning in and out, a slow moving creature stepped casually out of the twister, high-heeled, black-skirted and business sexy, it was her. She walked past him and toward the light of the sidewalk. He couldn’t move but a shout rose up through him from all over his body.

“Excuse me!” he yelled.

She stopped then turned slowly, her auburn hair shifting from her back and flipping over her shoulder and coming to rest on her silk blouse and covering her right breast.

Their eyes created a tunnel between them that rotated slowly as each read the other’s face, he reading a sonnet, and she studying the strong contours of his face.

“It’s you,” she said, “it’s really you.”

They moved toward one another and all the space between them was vacuumed away.

The multitudes on the sidewalk disappeared. The millions of people with their designer clothes and stress and needing to get there and keeping time with the march.

They held each other and she whispered, “I’ve been dreaming of this.”

“Me too.”

They knew each other, had known each other, would know.

Morgan stepped about five feet away, and before Olivia could ask, he jumped toward her.

“What’re you doing?” she said.

“A friend of mine told me it takes a leap of faith.”

She looked at him and smiled.

“Let’s go somewhere,” he said, “anywhere.”

Ticket To Ride, Book 2, Chapter 7: Livy on the Continent

5

 

There can be no integration of love and ambition, deception and clarity, compassion and war. So long as occupation and relationship are kept apart, so long will there be endless conflict and misery. All reformation within the pattern of duality is retrogression; only beyond it, is there creative peace.

— Krishnamurti, 1945

Livy stepped toward the full-length mirror to get a look at her outfit. Travel she thought, and looked at her face, her blue eyes, her small nose and full lips, framed by an oval face and shag cut auburn hair. Hair that curled down to her neck and conjured corinthian columns, beauty. She was like a lovely caryatid holding up the temple of beauty. She shook her head like a go-go girl and smiled, then moved her eyes down to her full and firm breasts squeezed by her halter top that left exposed the olive skin of her bare midriff which slid into her child-bearing hips that rounded into sleek, fountain pen legs, painted in blue jean.

“I’m glad I have such pretty feet,” she said to her reflection, “they should want some pictures of me for my column… if I went blonde and tousled it a bit, I’d be a dead ringer for Stevie Nicks.”

She picked up the phone and dragged it out on the patio.

“We need to do a photo shoot Rame.”

“Photo shoot of whom?” Ramie replied.

“Of me of course, what do you think of ‘Livy on the Continent’ or ‘Livy goes Continental’ as the title for my column,” she asked.

“You’re getting into this now, aren’t you? Let me think about it.”

“What’s to think about Rame. We could even use my middle name, Zhena, to spice it up a bit.

“Zhena?”

“Yeah I’m Russian on my mum’s side, all gypsy mysticism. She never talked about it much, she was a cold sort, but I got a lot out of my granddad before he died.”

“Hmmm.”

“You see Rame, it’ll work. I’ve had a good response to my little bits in the magazine. More than some of the honchos. People like me, let’s do it up! You can start promoting it now and I’ll have your first piece in a few weeks.”

“How about Livy incontinent.” Ramie joked.

“C’mon lovey, I’m feeling good about this, humor me.”

“I don’t know if the man’s gonna go for this.”

“He’ll love it, deep down he loves me. He must. He’s given me a dream.”

Ticket To Ride, Book 2, Chapter 5: I know what it’s like to be dead…

tumblr_mrra41NVYk1rrnekqo1_1280At the office where the papers grow she takes a break, drinks another coffee and she tries so hard to stay awake. It’s just another day.

 – Paul McCartney, Wings

 

The New Yorker. New York. Central Park. Times Square. Broadway. The Chrysler building. The Empire state. Skyscrapers. Pistons in the internal combustion engine. The sky partitioned. A girl on her own. Big city. An intern. I’m an intern. Summing it up in pithy shorts:

“American foreign policy is like the proverbial bull in a china shop. Swinging wildly like barbarians, blasting away at everything developed quietly and elegantly in the course of thousands of years. Shattering all that it doesn’t understand.”

This was just a short blurb thrown in next to “Talk of the Town.”

Her friend and junior editor came up behind her.

“Livy I, I think you need some time. Your point is taken, well taken but, well, I guess we thought, as an intern you’d, well you’d be, brighter, I don’t mean  you’re not bright, I just mean you might be more sunny, that you’d give the lighter side, the side from your side of things, the youth.”

“It’s 1978  Ramie, 1978, it’s time, things are shitting out and dying, disco’s bullshit and politics are going down the proverbial American shitter, Christ Ramie it’s trying time, time to try, the fuck’s this quiet, bright-eyed shite of wait-and-see?”

“Carter’s in office.”

“ So Peanuts and shite. Fuck it Rame, are we playing to that. Ten years ago things were changing. I was a ten year old girl listening to the Beatles, in love with Paul, but simple as that is, I was moving with him, he was changing and they were changing things. They broke but I was a willing observer of the schism. Shit Yoko and all that. He and Linda picked up and moved on. They were carrying us on their momentum… the momentum broke and we had nothing, nothing but ourselves, dizzy from the ride, we gave in… retreated to… we tried to go back to something we knew because our now had played out, no leaders. The leaders were all dead or burned out. Now every morning is the same thing, same world, same nothing I have to write for “Talk of the Town.” I want “The Town” to have a different tone. In 2000 they’ll be dealing with the same thing if we don’t deal with it now… Carter’s not rising now, maybe as an international leader, Sadat and Begin he’s good at, but domestic’s gotten out of his hands… The hostage thing is out of control… He’s got to get a hold. The Republican party’s coming on, healed from the Nixon thing. Short term memory. Always been, always will be.”

“We’re behind Carter, democratic, for equality. The Republican party’s priming for change. All we have is Mondale and Ferraro. First woman at this level.”

“A woman as president if he should croak, think, shit think Rame, think, what position are we taking?”

The sky outside was blue and inviting, a Spring Day in its essence, a Spring Day in fact.

“A Spring Day can change many things. A Spring day Rame. Fuck the editor if I’m not cutting it, maybe I should go now?”

“Maybe you should Livy. The boss’ll give you a leave of absence, maybe even a stipend. You need to live a little. Thoreau’s “marrow” and all that. Bones and all. I’ll talk to him for you. Go home now and rest.”

Livy  slunk off to the village. A rundown Brownstone in the heart of it. Late 70’s decrepit and worn. The buildings in it mirrored her soul, her disposition on a downturn. She turned the key into a turn-of-the-century flat. Flattened she felt, and dropped onto the couch. It’s soft and over worn cushions gave in to her weight, her auburn hair falling over her face. Around her was the memory of East Finchley; her mum’s favorite tea cozy, dusty lacy doilies, unopened letters from Hermione, tea cups and toffee, crowded on the table that once stood in her parents home. She’d let it all back in; stuff from home. Just like the whole crowd who’d faded with the passing of the Beatles. Crawling back into familiarity as unsavory as it was. The comfortable cloak of the past was becoming like a choke chain, like a little sister’s knickers, pinching.

She grimaced then squinted, felt heavy and anxious all at once, took in a deep breath, closed her eyes. A ray of sun from the window hit her left eye as it closed and sparkled, a flash then gone. With a little luck. 5 p.m.

At 10 a.m. the following day the phone rang.

“It’s all arranged Livy! Stipend, plane ticket and time. All you need to do is send us two-thousand words a week that we can use at the New Yorker or somewhere else in town.”

“Hmmm.”

“It’s all arranged you dolt. You can get out of here… go to Europe. You still sleeping?”

“Time is it?”

“About ten you dozy kitten.”

“Sound like me Rame.”

“Rubbing off I guess. Get yourself some coffee and call… or just come down to the office… Livy this is what you want.”

“What?”

“Have you not heard a word I’ve said?”

“Tickets for something. Not the Met again. Opera… sheesh.”

“Get yourself some coffee dear and call me back.”

Livy rolled to face the back of the couch. Tweed, worn tweed. Red lines weaved into gray, like road maps, train tracks, travel. Her mind began to clear. Had Ramie said plane tickets, something about Europe? Coffee, I need coffee.

She rose slowly from the couch and tripped over her own feet then caught herself, leaned hard in the opposite direction as the weight of a long sleep pulled her down. Bloody hell she thought. Feel like I’ve been drugged. Sleep, 17 hours of sleep, what a dozy daisy I am. Dreams. What was that dream? Coastline… train… orange trees… a dark man with something like a light over… blonde… but dark. Girl from…

She reached in the cupboard for coffee and found an empty can. Tea, only tea. Ty-phoo no less. Mum’s favorite. Have to do. Three bags at once she thought as she turned on the gas of the stove. Lovely stove this, Amana, porcelain on steel, soft edges, blue flame, aluminum kettle heats fast. Not much water in it, whistles when its done. She heard a loud crash above her that made her jump and nearly grab the kettle. She breathed, my head. Nothing like a grenade to get you going. Mr. McCarthy’s dropped his bowling ball again. Silly old man. Bowling for dollars again. TV. My’d say he’s “right potty he is.” The kettle wound up for a scream and she stopped it before it could. Gran had said it should be “poppin’ boiling.” But Gran liked to sit over a cup all day. Scottish. Ish. Caffeine, just give me the caffeine. She poured the water into a cup with three bags and the hot liquid turned an amber golden brown like her hair. Steam rose to her face. Just the smell of it. Milk and sugar. A teaspoon and a good dollop of milk, cool it off and neck it down. Neck it down Mum would say, Livy’d shed most of the slang. Her accent was still strong but she’d gained a composition and an air of refinement in the past few years. Smoothing off the edges, North London edges. Mum’s edges really, visited on me. Dad was all West Kensington on the exterior. Common as muck inside.

Livy brought the cup to her mouth and drank it all in two swallows. She reached for more tea bags and started the process again, then turned on the record player.

“Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice at a church where a wedding has been.”

“She said, I know what it’s like to be dead.”

These lyrics struck her.

Plants need watering she thought and stepped toward the sink, reaching beneath it to grab the watering can. Her apartment had all hardwood floors and was three times as long  as it was wide. In the center of the space and looking out over the village was her balcony filled with plants. Two large French doors led to this simulation of a garden, a woman-made sanctuary from the concrete, brick and steel of the world around her. The caffeine was coursing through her veins now and she was whirling with it, fluttering and floating back and forth from the “garden” to the sink. She hadn’t watered since the first of spring and now nearly summer and droughtish, the garden was fading. All day everyday in the office. Tired afterward. Dark. S’got to change she thought. Ramie. Tickets, she’d said something about tickets. Call her, no I’ll go. Better be good.

Ticket To Ride, Book 2, Chapter 4: We don’t need no thought control…

oxford-library_1886228cWe don’t need no education,

we don’t need no thought control,

there’s lots of hazards in the classroom

teachers leave them kids alone.

– Pink Floyd, The Wall

Somerville College, founded 1879, in honor of Mary Somerville, 1780-1872, mathematician. Dedicated to the emancipation of women and equality of the sexes.

Thanks Mary she thought as she walked through the first quad; built in the style of 1690, hammer-dressed Bladon stone. Through the archway and heading west toward the second quad she came up against a wall, a factory-like wall,* that blocks an otherwise open view to the south, thinking tiredly, bloody figures, St. Aloysius keeping it all square and contained.

“This essay is brilliant Ms. Tinsley.”

“Thank you Professor Thornton, Livy replied.

“It’s so good really that I’m afraid for you.”

“Afraid?”

“Yes, afraid, you see, for a writer college can only do so much.”

“How do you mean?”

“What I mean is that you have an innate ability to see connections in things and to craft fine sentences without knowing much about parts of speech. It just comes natural for you.”

“Thank you.”

“So, you see, what I’m saying is that you have what you need in terms of the mechanics of things. What you don’t have yet is a great deal of life experience to draw from. If you stay at Oxford you run the risk of having the fire stomped out of you. For you, the classes here will become, very quickly, inane and droll.”

“But I love my history classes.”

“Then study it on your own. You’ll need a foundation in history, but everything else will become quite a yawn.”

“I have felt that I’m meant for more.”

“And you are. That’s why I’ve taken it upon myself to get you placed somewhere where you can grow.”

“Where then?”

“The New Yorker magazine love.”

“My God.”

“Yes, my God. It’s just an internship mind you, but it’s in the center of things.”

Livy hugged him and began to walk out.

Professor Thornton yelled after her,“You have a couple of weeks.”

Men can be good for something, Livy thought.

There were echoes running along the walls. A young woman’s voice, beyond Walton House and beyond the third arch, in the garden quad. Surrounded by red-brick, she sounded passionate, if not slightly neurotic. Livy continued on until she could see the woman. There was a small crowd around her and in the crowd was Livy’s friend Hermione whom she called “My” for short.

“Hey ya My.” Livy said into Hermione’s ear.

“Livy, this one’s on about it today love.”

“On about what My?”

“Just on and on really,” she said smiling.

The two turned to listen.

“So that just as. to assure elimination of economic classes requires the revolt of the underclass (the proletariat) and, in a -temporary dictatorship, their seizure of the means of production, so to assure the elimination of sexual classes requires the revolt of the underclass (women) and the seizure of control of reproduction: not only the full restoration to women of ownership of their own bodies, but also their (temporary) seizure of control of human fertility – the new population biology as well as all the social institutions of child-bearing and child-rearing. And just as the end goal of socialist revolution was not only the elimination of the economic class privilege but of the economic class distinction itself, so the end goal of feminist revolution must be, unlike that of the first feminist movement, not just the elimination of male privilege but of the sex distinction itself: genital differences between human beings would no longer matter culturally. (A reversion to an unobstructed pansexuality Freud’s ‘polymorphous perversity’ – would probably supersede hetero/homo/bi-sexuality.) The reproduction of the species by one sex for the benefit of both would be replaced by (at least the option of) artificial reproduction: children would be born to both sexes equally, or independently of. either, however one chooses to look at it; the dependence of the child on the mother (and vice versa) would give way to a greatly shortened dependence on a small group of others in general, and any remaining inferiority to adults in physical strength would be compensated for culturally. The division of labour would be ended by the elimination of labour altogether (through cybernetics). The tyranny of the biological family would be broken.”*

The speaker finished.

“That was something.” Livy said smiling.

“Something or other.” My returned, her green eyes alight with the levity of Livy’s presence.

“You know My, I think I’m done here.”

My furrowed her brow.

“But its only just a year.”

“I know but… well… I just don’t want to be institutionalized anymore. Professor Thornton suggested America.”

“America?”

“Yeah, doesn’t it sound cool lovey? America, John Wayne, hamburgers and freeways. Professor Thornton says he can get me an internship at the New Yorker. Bloody cool isn’t it?”

“You’ve got no degree love.”

“I’m not running for political office. I’m just gonna write. He thinks I can write and good if I work at it.”

She’d been here a lifetime she thought, everyday like a bigger yawn than the one before. A nuthouse full of pontificators espousing their “singular” and simplistic, shortsighted nonsense. She wanted to be in it, on it, of it. Inside of things, part of the current. Not cloistered behind stone walls.

She walked into the bare, shallow and unadorned space of the college chapel, not because she necessarily believed in the power of the place, but because, as of yet, she hadn’t ruled it out, and was feeling the need to connect to something.

Professor Thornton, Miss Brompton, two saviors, thank you God.

* from The Dialectic of Sex, Shulamith Firestone (1970)

Source: The Dialectic of Sex, publ. The Women’s Press, 1979. 

Just the first Chapter reproduced here.

The Mouse, A Children’s Story That Sums It All Up

mouse-damage-wiring-chemtec-pest-control copythe mouse: a “children’s” story

philip scott wikel ©2002

1. Once upon a time there was a beautiful neighborhood full of green trees and flowers and butterflies of every color. Children would play freely as their parents and grandparents sat on the porches of their homes and told stories of wonderous faraway lands and magical Christmases and days filled with adventure.

2. Then one day the people stopped going outside and the children sat in front of the television as soon as they came home from school.

3. The neighborhood had a blue glow at night created by the light of televisions, which made it impossible to see the stars.

4. A mouse named “Augustus” lived at the “Small World” Pet Store on the Corner of Main Street & Madison Avenue.

5. Most of the mice here would eventually become food for the two boa constrictors (Fox & CNN) if not for the help of, of all things, the neighborhood cat named “rainbow.”

6. The mouse heard through the neighborhood grapevine, an actual dormant grapevine that runs along the back fences of the whole block (which served as an information highway between pets who’d found homes and pets still in the store), that there was room for a pet in a cottage down the way and that there was a nice little boy who lived there who’s daddy couldn’t afford to buy him one.

7. This particular night Rainbow scratched a hole in the rotted window pane and liberated the mouse.

8. He rode on rainbow’s back to the outside of the house, passing above “Satellite’s” yard. Satellite jumped and clawed at Rainbow. But rainbow was cool and just kept moving slowly with a smile on her face. Satellite’s owner is named Aidem. He owns the local satellite network and most of the houses on the street. His house is the biggest and sits in the center of the block.

9. “Here you go little guy,” says Rainbow, “you’ll be safe here, Dylan’s a good kid and his dad’s nice too.”

10. He appears through the vent of the wall heater and runs around the base of the kitchen cabinets and into the den where the father is reading a book to his son.

11. He is somewhat frightened of these strangers but is courageous enough to decide on getting a better look at them.

12. He climbs the magazine rack, perches on top of a copy of the New Yorker to spy across the room. They looked awfully big from there.

13. He climbs a computer cord to the top of the desk. Then scales a lamp that was made in the shape of a lighthouse. From there he looked around nervously. He was at eye level with the father now. He looked pleasant enough.

14. Just below him and beyond a wind-up robot was the half-eaten cup of Instant Macaroni & Cheese. The mouse was hungry so he risked being spotted. He jumped into the cup and finished its contents.

15. Then the father shifted in his seat and the mouse ran to hide behind a picture of Dylan’s grandparents.

16. He went back down the cord, behind the magazine rack, then scurried behind the videotapes, stopping briefly to admire a copy of The Rescuers, and moved on to hide in the trunk of a black toy ’58 Corvette.

17. The boy saw him jump in and he moved slowly to grab the car.

18. Don’t be afraid little mouse, he said, why don’t you get in the front seat, the steering wheel works and I’ll turn on the power. The boy was very happy and began making plans for adventures with his new friend.

19. Outside through the window the landlord Aidem passed by. He saw the boy with the mouse.

20. He went back to the main house.

21. Then he came back and knocked on the door.

22. The boy’s father answered the door.

23. I saw your boy with a mouse and I must presume that since you can’t afford Aidem TV that you can’t afford a pet. Here are some mousetraps. Put them out and kill that thing or I’ll report you to the Pet Store. I don’t want mice around here. Mice get into the wiring of things.

24. What did he want daddy?

25. He gave us these things.

26. Mousetraps, what are we going to do with them?, asked Dylan.

27. Well they’re for killing mice.

28.  I have a better idea, says Augustus.  We can use them to catapult playdough at Aidem’s pitbull, satellite.

29. Your mouse can stay “sport.” We’ll give him the birdhouse to live in.

30. The boy jumped up and down and hugged his father.

31. The mouse, who’d overheard the conversation, smiled.

32. The next morning they set up the two mousetraps with a generous helping of extra slimy playdough. They whistled to satellite and he came charging at their fence. On the count of three they launched the playdough. It landed on satellite’s eyes and he couldn’t see and crashed into the fence and was never able to bark again.

33. That night there was no blue glow to disturb the stars and in the starlight you could see new buds on the grapevine. Everyone loved it but no one could explain the change. No one, except perhaps Aidem who, since no one was interested in staying inside and watching TV anymore, lost all his money and had to take a job cleaning the cages at the Pet Store.

34. The neighborhood was beautiful again full of green trees and flowers and butterflies of every color. Children played freely again and their parents and grandparents sat on the porches of their homes and told stories of wonderous faraway lands and magical Christmases and days filled with adventure.

[The only change to this story now would be that Dylan’s dad had to do it all by himself cuz Dylan turned out to be a bad guy. Thinking he might come to his senses is what kept Dylan’s dad from seeing things for what they really were. His dad had known for a very long time but what parent wants to believe the worst of his kid until it becomes glaringly obvious the kid is rotten].

The moral of the story? Believe nothing you see on TV or in the newspapers in America and love your children as long as they’re not criminals.