About Me

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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


"Would you like to go to Harvest Festival with me?"  She said she'd like that.  "Have you been there before?"  She had - once, like I had.  I don't know why they call it Harvest Festival, as it is held in late summer in the desert.  Except for the merchandise in some of the vendors' booths, there is nothing remotely harvest-like about it. It is simply the Promised Land of craft shows, the presenters required to jump through a few hoops to prove the quality of their goods before being allowed a spot on the selling floor.  On my prior visit, I'd come out with a haul for my friend's approaching birthday and a few trinkets for myself.  This time, I was on a mission.  I knew what I was after.  I paid $4 to park Lucy Sue and $9 to walk through the door, this for the privilege of going in to spend even more of my money. Later, a companion laughed at me over that at dinner. "What? You paid how much to be allowed to spend more?"  "Oh, it's a girl thing.  I'll probably go back next year and pay for the privilege, too."

Click image for larger size.
I was searching for Chinese charm bracelets, a little item that mightily pleased me a couple of years ago.  These confections consist of a slim black cord decorated with a gemstone figure, one temple bell and two charms. The gemstones and charms represent all manner of good things that might come one's way. Whenever the temple bell rings, which is approximately every time one breathes, one's prayer will be answered.  I was a rookie last time at Harvest Festival.  The bracelets are laid out on long tables in deep piles.  There may be a million or so.  Oh, yes, I saw the little code-breaker, telling what everything meant.  But it was a bit overwhelming and I ultimately just bought 5 of them for the price of 4, some for birthday girlfriend and some for me, and made my way home.

Click image for larger size.
The next day at work, my home dudes helped me translate the charms and gemstones into an understanding of my next karmic gifts to be expected.  They also had to help me, with a good deal of chin rubbing and furrowed-brow studying, learn how to operate the bracelet on its cord through the beads that tighten or loosen it.  "Hey, Les, do they all have a bell?"  I said they did.  "Prayers answered."  Great!  Who doesn't seek that?  "Anything like a yin and yang?"  I had one - balance and harmony.  "Do you have the money bag?"  Sure did - riches!  The cleverest of the group asked me about a fish. I didn't have one.  He asked again.  I said I didn't.  The third time around, I queried, "What's up with the fish, Homey?"  Freedom, prosperity and good sex.  Damn!  There were a million lying there.  How'd I get away without a fish?  I wore my bracelets on wrist and ankle until they fairly rotted off of me.  Sure I could have gone online to order more, but there is something about running one's hands through the pile . . I bought nothing else there this time.  My mission was accomplished.

It may have been sunny somewhere,
but certainly not where I was!
When we'd arrived it was a hot, late summer monsoonal afternoon.  I'd cracked the windows of the car and put the shade in my windshield so we wouldn't melt when we left the place.  Walking out, she needed a cigarette.  I don't care for this, but I don't hammer.  We've had the serious discussions.  She knows how I feel about it and what the rules are regarding how close that activity may be performed to my person.  I strive for tolerance.  As she puffed, I watched the sky go a funny color and thunderclouds roll in faster than I can type it.  "Smoke fast, please."  But the thunder started to boom and the rain fell in sheets.  We were placed nominally under an awning, but within seconds the pounding rain began to pummel us sideways.  "Shit!" I bellowed.  Mothers pushing strollers began to scatter, kids screamed, men repeated my sentiment loudly.  The hail hit and when it began to pound me in the head and ear, I knew I couldn't just stand there.  I was wearing sandals not fit to go anywhere near any form of liquid, but I moved along pretty smartly without face-planting.  We (and 100 others) charged the door of the Cashman Center and they let us back in.  "Lady, you can run like nothing I ever saw," said the ticket-taker.  "Your dark hair is all full of hail stones."  I was so grateful to receive that information.  Soaked to the skin, water dripping off of us from everywhere, the air conditioning nearly froze us. I can attest that a small pair of jeans weighs a ton when fully saturated.  If I hadn't worn a belt, I may have lost my pants.

The crowd milled around, listening to the thunder roll and watching the water come up over the curbs, hail piling up against the side of the building. And then the sun burst through, as suddenly as the storm had come in.  The entire show took about 7 minutes.  The aftermath was more lasting.  Our choices for getting to the parking lot were few: 1) Walk  on the sidewalk to Utah and circle around, or 2) ford the river and take our chances. We stepped into the current, twigs and debris swirling around our legs, mud collecting in my sandals, finally cresting the hill and spotting the car. Ah, the car. There was an inch of water in the cup holders, hailstones arranged in a pretty little tableau on  the dashboard. The upholstery spewed a geyser when we sat on the seats. Hair product streamed down my neck and forehead, condensation forming on the lenses of my glasses.  "Nice relaxing day out shopping, eh? Want some Starbucks?" She did. Teeth chattering, we drove off.

As I drove along, a text message dropped in. "Want to go for pizza? I'm hungry!" I sent a reply saying that I would enjoy pizza but explained I would need to go home first and fix myself up from the skin out.  "I'm sure you look great. It's just Metro Pizza." I averred that I looked anything but great. "Oh, come on. How bad can you look?"  I said I can actually look pretty bad under certain circumstances. Finally I sent the phone cam pictures. "Oh. OK, see you in an hour or so. Take your time."  Well!

So this time I got a gemstone cat (for protection), a bamboo charm (strength and resilience), a Chinese coin (riches) and the temple bell to ring all my prayers to truth. I got a heart (love and fulfillment) and a yin/yang (harmony). And - oh, yeah, I got a lovely green jade fish (freedom, prosperity and good sex). I'll let you know how that works out for me.

In my ears right now: Because I love it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Kirk's Fault, Birthdays and Growth

OK, I'm not exactly apologizing for my musical obsession below. Just sayin'. It's Kirk's fault. I accept no responsibility. All right, I'd accept responsibility for the Civil War, so maybe I'll take on just a little of that here. For sometimes, someone has only to say a little tiny something and it gets me going. All he wrote was "Knocking on Heaven's Door" and I was off . .  OK, it's short, easy to remember, conjures up different visions in all of us, I imagine, and there appears to be no worthy artist who has failed to do it ~ and do it well. I understand it is an easy four-chord tune for the musically inclined to play. So, in no particular order of appreciation, here are some versions that made me dance this morning. Yeah, I have a favorite version, but it may not be yours.

And that is not at all what I wanted to write about. David's birthday approached. I'd been back at work for a month. I like to cook for him and he likes what I make. It's been ages since I put on any form of a whoop-dee-doo, and I was in the mood. I spoke at length with my AA sponsor. This would not be a gift for David if I pressured myself to the point of breakdown. But a little challenge to myself could be a very good "next right step" as I find my way along. I started to pencil a menu. I needed to transport food for 25, set it up, serve it . . . Jennifer was soon on board. "I'll help you. I make killer fajitas!" (She does, too!) I pulled recipes, bought ingredients, cooked for 3 nights after work. Rice, beans, albondigas soup, chile relleno casserole, all the condiments, gourmet cupcakes, and Jenn's fajitas. I pondered why I had ever stopped cooking and making whoop-dee-doos since I love those things so much. Oh, wait. When one drinks as much as I was drinking, such things as complex plans, recipe cooking, shopping for ingredients and executing the whoop-dee-doo become insurmountable. Yet another of life's pleasures I sacrificed to King Alcohol.

Jenn cools her jets
with My Dog and
The Greatest.
But not this time. We both got up at 4:15 that morning and I picked her up by 6:00. We hauled my new purchases, a cupcake stand and an appliance used when one wants to take loose ingredients to make a quesadilla rather than just take fajitas and side dishes. And we hauled all that food. We invited Mailman Steve to pop in for a meal and FedEx driver Ray. They came! We made platters of "take-out" for the carpet technicians who were out working at lunch time. And we still hauled home mountains of food. The last cupcakes went to AA with us, where many recovering alcoholics enjoyed a little treat. "What, did you women give a party or something?" Boy, howdy.

Birthday Man with a little
wrist action on the paper plate.
OK, everything was not perfect. Sometimes I go in too many directions at one time. Who knew my camera had been set on macro and left that way? I barely remembered to run to get it before he blew out his candles and started to chow down. It was a rare event to see David without a baseball cap. He looked grand and I pitched him. "Sir, we haven't had our picture taken together in a long time. What do you say?" He said, "Yeah!" The crowd was thinning and we posed ourselves. Jennifer took the shot. Oh, it would be a sweet scene if we could clearly be seen. Alas, the macro setting! However, I love the picture. I know it's David and me. I know it was on the occasion of his birthday luncheon just after I'd returned to the place I know I want to belong for the foreseeable future. I know I need to slow down and pay attention to the details. Maybe the reader can imagine viewing the photo through a veil of sentimental tears, eh? That's how I look at it. And so it goes . . .

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My Own Private 9-11

I imagine there are few people over a certain age who do not know something about the horrible events of the September 11, 2001 attacks by al-Qaeda against the United States. The four coordinated suicide attacks on that Tuesday morning were shocking, devastating and resulted in many changes to the routine ways in which some things are conducted in the U.S. and throughout the world. I am not a good enough wordsmith to add anything cogent to the millions of words already written about the horrors. I don't have a photo or film clip to present. I was nowhere near any of the individual events. I was distracted that day. I had to learn much of what I know about 9-11 by reading and discovering long after the fact. For I, too, had been focusing on the 9-11-01 square on the calendar for some time. I had personal business to conduct on that day.

I was downstairs chatting distractedly with Ex, making the coffee, even though I would not be allowed to drink any that morning. That seems odd now - that little snippet. He was perfectly adept in the kitchen, by now acting as menu maker, shopper and cook. Why I, coffee hound, was messing with the makings when it was denied me is unclear. Likely I had insisted. I needed to keep my hands busy while my head spun out of control.  Amber came down the stairs with an odd look on her face. While getting ready for school, she'd seen the first news bulletins on TV. She didn't fully comprehend what was happening (who did?), but she knew she should likely say something. "You know those twin buildings in New York? You guys better turn on the TV." We did so, and I have a sense of us staring like two slack-jaws at the screen, comprehending no part of what we were seeing. At the time we switched on the set, all eyes were on New York. Then the Pentagon was hit.

I knew my mother would be preparing and drinking her coffee in the north county, and I knew there was no chance she'd partake of news delivered by any media. She is a TV-phobe, not very interested in hearing about anything remotely resembling news. She likes floating around in her own world and her own head. She would soon join Ex and me at a hospital, for I was to have surgery that day and we'd all made careful plans to support me and to support Amber so she could have as normal a day as possible. Nevertheless, we felt Mom should be told what was going on. She can't always be allowed to float along in a bubble. "Mom, dust off the TV and turn it on. I think we may be at war." She asked a good question, given the hour: "With whom?" I didn't know. Anxiety was creeping up on me. I already had a good sense of fear and dread going on. I didn't have much fiber left with which to deal with the attacks. "Just turn it on, Mom. We'll both be available on cell phone. Please take yours out of your purse and turn it on. We're going to the hospital as planned."

Amber had seen and heard enough. She'd been offered some options for her day. She'd landed on going to school as usual and walking afterwards to Aunt Becky's. Her dad would pick her up for dinner and they'd come to see me in the hospital after their meal. She'd been made to understand Mom wouldn't be very frisky and they'd only stay a few minutes, just so she could see I'd come through surgery and now was on the other side. The breaking news distressed her - she was 11 - and now she wanted to simply spend the entire day with Aunt Becky. We actually preferred that. We wanted her in one known place rather than two places with a solo walk in between. Oh, yes, it was Lemon Grove. On her walk, she'd pass the homes of a few different relatives in a 6-block walk, but we still favored her being in one location with a person we trusted 100% to make good decisions.

Amber and I had had a Mom-Daughter sleep-together the night before, bunking in her waterbed playing music we both loved, talking as needed. I don't believe our hands ever ungrasped, even through the sleeping hours. We woke from time to time, both crying. We were scared. We were a well-counseled family, the bulk of that bestowed on me, a bit less on Ex and a sanitized version applied to Amber, appropriate to her age and understanding. Even my mother had been let in for a little bit of preparation. For this surgery was going to drastically change me, and - therefore - everyone close to me, everything I did, everywhere I went, everything I thought, felt and emanated. We were in for some change. I was 49 years of age. I was very reliable and predictable. Good old Les. A rock. The one you could count upon to remain steadfast. I wasn't known for changing up anything in any way.

At the hospital, I was ensconced in the corral where pre-surgical patients wait together in their anxiety and misery. The staff members were clearly distracted, patients' families gathering in front of TVs in the various waiting rooms. I heard one woman make a tart comment to her companion: "Hey, I'm having surgery. Can I get a little attention here?" Though my procedure was scheduled for the afternoon, I reported at 7:00 a.m. and was given an IV. This caused me to need the bathroom 2 or 3 times an hour, dragging my little pull-along contraption with me. I remember feeling absolutely frozen, begging warmed blankets which were produced repeatedly with a smile. Between them, Ex and my mother managed to both keep me company and monitor the news. And finally I went from the corral to the chute. "Bye, Mom. Bye, Ex. See you on the other side." In the chute, my hair was covered, I got a light sedative in my IV (odd, because I'd toughed out many hours without sedation and now I was about to go completely under, but sedate me they did). The nurses there were also distracted, chatting among themselves. One commented on a grisly TV scene wherein body parts could be seen on the roof of a New York building. I didn't think much of that in my sedated state, but she apologized to me for being too graphic. And suddenly, "he" was there.

By pure happenstance, one of the world's recognized front runners practiced his specialty at his clinic and at the hospital 5 miles from my home. I was - once again - the chosen one, the lucky child, to be in his care. I was his third surgery of the day. "Do you know what's happening in the world today or have you been too busy to hear it?" He said he knew about the attacks. "Are you distracted in any way?" He said he was good to go. "OK, then I am, too. I have an 11-year-old who is relying on you to be as expert as you are." He promised to do his best. I suffered a few slight indignities in the operating room, such as meeting the crew that would film my surgery. And then I was mercifully removed from consciousness.

I have said many times in writing that I have suffered more than one addiction. My surgery was to help me with but one of those. I walked into Alvarado Hospital that morning weighing 340 pounds. I'd been gaining toward that peak for many, many years. Though I had managed such things as a successful career, a pregnancy and childbirth, international travel and many more of life's most wonderful gifts, I was now beaten down with nowhere else to turn. I'd tried every reasonable remedy but I'd succeeded in nearly destroying myself. My surgery was Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, the hard way. I was not a candidate for the less invasive laparoscopic procedure. It would color everything that came afterward. Not all outcomes have been joyous. Amber calls 9-11-01 the day she lost her mother. That is an enormous and powerful statement she means completely. My truth is that this was the first enormous gift I gave myself in order to find myself. The 10-year journey has been one of tremendous highs and a few deep lows, those not directly related to the surgery or its results. I wouldn't change a thing. The enormity of the impact of all of my changes cannot possibly be expressed in one blog post. I will continue to write about them, though. I have wanted to write of this for a very long time, as it is such a deeply integral part of the me of today. And - there - now I have done so.

A few things I know: there are enough of "us" now that we know 5 years post-surgery, 80% of us have gained back 50% of our excess weight. I am not one of those. Knowing what my skeleton, blood, muscle and other parts should weigh, I was given a number that - if I reached it - I should accept with good grace and call it a day. I weigh 35 pounds less than that number, without ever once taking extraordinary steps to cause more weight loss. I know about infections and torn staples and all the other horror stories. I read the same news reports you do. I just haven't suffered any of them. I know "they" were right to counsel us about the number one side effect: broken relationships of all kinds. Though Ex and I had been together 30 years and scoffed at the notion my surgery would break us apart, the marriage collapsed in 13 months. I know that not everyone is happy for a person who finds her way out of a terrible trap. Mostly people want things to remain the same. For most of us, profound change is too difficult to contemplate.  Good old Les. She changed everything in one fell swoop.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Personae, Debate and Mistaken Identity

OK, you've already met me 
as Stamp Girl.
What do you think of the new 
and updated Stamp Woman?
Click for larger image.
A friend at work showed me a picture collage on his iPhone, featuring his young grand - son's face tricked up like stamp images. "Isn't that cool?" he asked. Boy, howdy! My head began to spin. "Hey, Mark, if I e-mailed a couple of pictures, would you mind . . .?" He said he didn't mind. When the picture landed, I chortled a little, being a woman who is pretty easily amused. Then landed another e-mail: "What do you think of this?" Ha! Coin Chick!

"Now you're the Leslie Morgan Silver Dollar," he wrote. Having not
seen this possibility before, I guffawed right out loud. David commented

that my hands resemble claws, as if I were clawing at my face, in the coin
version. "Yes, Sir. Distressed at the economy. Clawing for my life."

The end of the work day neared. Only George and I remained in the office. "Would it be bad form if I took the rest of my birthday cake away rather than leave it here to be enjoyed with coffee tomorrow?" For, despite having served plank sized portions, there was still half of that mammoth cake remaining. "Darlin', it's your birthday cake. You do whatever makes you happy." I decided to take it to AA. Sometimes some people there haven't eaten all day. The free coffee and refreshments might be all they get for awhile. Jenn and I attracted a lot of attention in the parking lot. Typically, when someone appears with cake at AA, it means they're celebrating a sobriety birthday. Everyone applauds that. But the cake, on its own, is appreciated, too. "Whose birthday?" "Mine!" "Oh, do you have a year now?" "Nope, I have 59 years!" Odd looks. We set up for the meeting, answering all the questions: "Leslie's birthday, brought the rest of the cake, etc." A woman who is rather contentious came in. "What's that?" We explained again, though we thought a giant slab o' cake was pretty self explanatory. "We're not supposed to celebrate belly button birthdays at AA," she pronounced.

I don't care for the term. I understood she meant we celebrate sobriety birthdays more than natal days, but her comment made me bristle a little. I looked around the room where are posted the 12 Steps, the 12 Traditions, all the short slogans we live by . . nothing about "celebrate no belly button birthdays here". I said, "We're not celebrating anything. I simply brought refreshments to be shared in fellowship." And, besides, there are no "supposed to's" in AA - it is a system of benevolent anarchy. Everyone does it his or her way. Jenn grinned. "Well done," she mouthed. Some others came along and someone said, "Hey, it's your birthday, why don't you lead the meeting?" I did so, with pleasure. The question of belly button birthdays vs. sobriety birthdays was thoroughly chewed upon, as AAs on both sides of the question munched away at my cake. Since I was leading, I got to observe rather quietly, and it pleased me to watch people rant about what was right and what was not and to tuck absentmindedly into that confection that aroused such passionate conversation.

Up just with the sunrise, I flipped on the coffeemaker and the TV, started the shower, stroked Virginia Woolf's fur for a moment, yawned. It requires a lot of my energy to get myself up and out every morning. Oh, I want to go! It's just been a long time since I kept a work schedule and I have to be disciplined about meeting all my obligations, one such demand being to allow myself rest and relaxation and pleasurable activities. An ad came on announcing a concert at a casino-resort I could walk to. I've walked to a concert before. It's kind of fun to simply stroll through the madness as everyone else tries to maneuver cars through chaos. The streets between the venue and home are well lit and busy around the clock. I'd be safe. Maybe . . I like John Sebastian, coffee-house folkie who fronted the Lovin' Spoonful and a handful of other good groups in the day, as well as having a solo career. He's a great songwriter whose voice remains true and who still looks adorable.  Maybe . . The announcer raved on about the intimacy of the venue, the rare opportunity to see a performer as special as John Sebastian. One of the artist's songs kicked in, fairly loud compared to the spoken part of the ad, and I had a "WTF?" moment. For performing in person is one Joan (pronounced "John", at least in this TV spot) Sebastian. Not at all the man I had in mind. So, maybe not . . . Oh, I'm certain Joan Sebastian is a marvelous singer. Just not what I was expecting.

Special thanks to Mark Bubel for indulging my whimsy.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


I like the little truism "Bloom Where You're Planted". It encourages me to simply do the obvious next right thing, with what's at hand and I'll blossom. I've been back at my  much loved work (with only a slightly different flavor and location) for a month now. When I look into the mirror, whether literally or metaphorically, I am amazed at the profusion of sprouts and blooms. Oh, to be sure, there are few stalks or full flowers yet. But compared to only a short time ago, it's as if I've been given a strong application of spiritual, mental and emotional Miracle Gro. Don't read this as "everything's wonderful". Everything is not. But almost everything is much better. And that is huge.

I never really knew George, beyond the knowledge that he was nominally related to "us". I worked only for A1 Carpet Care and was David's assistant. David's preference was that I be bonded to him and to A1 and that others in the special little world give me space to do what I do. And that worked fine for us all. Now I work for both David and George, seated in the place where George can be found most times. David pops in many times a day, many times simply to read my face, and we burn up the cyberworld with text messages and emails. It is a wonderful time in space for one who loves to connect with others, such as I.

George, it is clear to me, is a man who "does for" women. He is strong, well-established, sure of himself, knows his way around the planet, and - more importantly - around Las Vegas. He is rather aggressive and confrontational with men, seemingly unprovoked, sometimes. Conversely, he is rather courtly toward women - all women. When a female openly ponders about how to accomplish some task, George gets right in it, partly advising and partly trying to shoulder some of the required action. I am of mixed feelings about this "being taken care of". Mostly I resist it, though I listen to advice. Sometimes (less frequently), I'm simply grateful for a little assist in a mundane errand or dilemma. George calls me (and other females) "darlin' " with some degree of frequency. This is something I've never appreciated from anyone in business, but I have not yet prickled about it coming from George. That's what he does, naturally. If I find it truly objectionable, I'll say so, and I am certain he would modify.

I'd worked only a couple of weeks when my birthday came. I hadn't peeped a word about it, but it was not forgotten. I was only slightly taken aback when David popped in and said, "Grab a pen and pad. Come upstairs with me." No, he's not curt or rude. We just speak in shorthand sometimes. Usually when he goes short-of-words that way, it means his brain is bubbling with the newest idea. It never occurred to me we could have chatted downstairs right where we were at the time. I just hollered out, "Going upstairs with David!" and climbed the stairs in the broiling sun. When I went back down, with David hot on my heels, I learned I'd been had. George took me by the shoulder to the embarrassing moment  . . .
Some of these made a much-
appreciated gift. Hey! I'd been
unemployed for a year. This was
exciting! My head whirled.
Edible flowers. I ate one to prove it.
I sprayed the rest with a matte acrylic
spray to preserve them for some
future use other than simply add-
ing to my momentary pleasure
and future body weight.  ;~}

I decided to put half of my windfall into savings, use some to repair some of the harm to my personal business after a year of neglect, and some to buy a couple of things I'd not been able to afford before. Part of that was easy: make a bank deposit. Some of it was glorious: I bought a modest haul of art supplies I'd hungered to own and use. Some of it was daunting, just a little, because I still cannot easily handle more than a few demands at a time. My car, Lucy Sue, looked shameful. Mostly, she had sat for a year, collecting not miles, but dust and grime and hard-water stains. A drive-through car wash wasn't going to do the job and I'm not physically up to cleaning her decently. Along comes George. "I know just what to do, darlin'!" He fumbled for his cell phone and barked out, "Get your ass down here to the office. I need you." I cringed at the approach and waited for whomever to appear. Enter Pablo, a male who has given service to George for many years. He's likely accustomed to barked orders and good pay.  An hour later, during which time George ran out into the parking lot windmilling his arms and pointing out tiny spots of Lucy Sue needing attention, the car gleamed. It smelled good. At the end of my day, George took me outside by the elbow, opened the car for me and damned nearly hooked up my seatbelt across my lap. I drove off feeling pretty happy. I'd paid the enormous sum of $20 plus tip. It was a small investment in feeling a whole lot better.

One finds it in the little
things, small connections.
The next day, a Friday, it was monsoonal, hell for hot and threatening rain. This did not make me happy, as my car sat out in the open. I dreamed at the window a little bit, observing the gray sky and traveling back in time. I wondered whether Vicente still cleaned cars as poorly as a car can be "cleaned", still exuded the charm that pulled me magnetically and whether he had ever received his transplanted kidney. I experienced a little wave of sadness and went back to work. How can this happen in real time, reader? For I am not even slightly fictionalizing this: a man walked past my window outside. I only had a fraction of a second to experience the lightning bolts going off in my head. He opened our door to enter. He made eye contact with me as I sat behind the desk. He nearly dropped to the floor. He began to visibly tremble. He clutched at his chest a la Fred Sanford having the big one. "Leslie! Ay, dios mio!" I vacillated between grinning and tearing up. "Hola, Vicente." "Leslie!" He came behind the counter and took me by the hand. His English has not improved, nor has my Spanish. Other than talk about car cleaning, and limited talk at that, we have trouble communicating to completed concepts. This took me aback only a little: he put my open hand on his chest - hot from hellish heat, wet from his profession - car washing involves water, even for Vicente - heart pounding nearly out of his skin. I could physically feel all of this. He continued to grin at me, trembling. I was struck - for the 9 millionth time in life - by the mystery and joy of connecting purely with one other human being whom one can't help being drawn to. I don't know why I am so bonded to a man who really does a poor job that I pay him for. He is not "hot for me", nor am I for him. It's not that. But whatever one calls it, we have it and it goes deep. After he collected himself, Vicente (of course) put the moves on me about the car. That's his livelihood. I impressed upon him that the car had just been detailed "jesterday". "Oh, jesterday?" I nodded. "Next week, Leslie?" I nodded. David walked in and took in the grand reunion. Vicente left and David grinned from ear to ear. "And you'll still be giving him a 50% tip, won't you?" I nodded. The story of Vicente's return into my small arena does not end here. He (and others) will be the subject of my next post after I grab a couple of photos I need. Across the period of a year, Vicente got his transplant and Leslie got sober. I told him, partly in pantomime, about my alcohol fueled crash and burn. "Ay, dios mio! Now better, Leslie?" I told him I was better now.

David stayed nearby, leaning against my counter on his forearms, a stance I now recognize as the newest, "Let's talk" pose. I was intrigued by his look, as he isn't the only one between us who "reads face". "What's going on, Sir? I can see you're percolating." In our little world are represented many different beliefs and belief systems. A fragment of knowledge about astrology used to make us crow about the Virgo Brigade in our world under the stucco canopy, back where the world can't see us. For in a group of maybe 25 people, several key players were Virgos: David, me, the much-loved and now gone Rudy, Cesar, the wonderful carpet technician. We knew our world ran well because of our Virgoan superiority . . I'm kidding! We thought it was interesting. "You know Trudy?" Sure, I do. She now manages A1 Carpet Care and I don't resent her for it. She was looking for a job when I surrendered mine. She seems to have done well with it and David has told me she is now "one of the family".  "Her birthday is the same day as yours, August 24th. She's exactly one year older than you are." I grinned. "Sir, how the hell did you manage that?" He grinned that slow, broad beam and shook his head from side to side, slowly. "I didn't know until a couple of days ago. I had to scramble so her birthday wouldn't go 'forgotten'." And so it goes . . .

In my ears this weekend:  Because I love just about anything he performed . .