I Really Don’t Know Clouds At All

Have you ever sat watching a cloud as it slowly disappeared into thin air? Trying to pinpoint the moment when it was no longer a cloud?

When I was in college, back before we bit into the Apple, I had a Brother Word Processor. I wrote dozens of research papers, hundreds of essays, and perhaps a thousand poems on that word processor.  Many of them never made it to paper, but were stored on disks that were made specifically for that device. 2.2 disks, I think.

Somewhere in my mother’s house there is a stack of pure brilliance, irretrievable.

When I worked in Corporate America I planned and schemed on a network computer with three disk drives.  Somewhere in a closet there is a dusty Coach briefcase filled with the priceless history of my career in 3 different formats. And on microfiche.  Never to be read again.

When the kids were born we bought a digital camera, and we took pictures. Oh, so many pictures. Sometimes dozens a day. We stored them on the state of the art PC we had purchased when we bought our house. The monitor is long gone, but The Tower is still in the basement somewhere. And in any given cabinet or drawer, you may find a random CD in a clear plastic case, which may or may not be labelled, and may or may not contain the history of our family.

Yesterday when I was in Shop Rite balancing a large birthday cake across the top of a heaping full shopping cart I dropped my iPhone onto the floor.  It had been in my hand because I had been reading my shopping list.  I write all of my lists in the Notes app: things to do list, things to buy list, movies to watch list, books to read list, songs to listen to list. I also use the Notes for everything else I write: chunks of manuscript, ideas for blog posts, poems in the works, meditations, yoga nidra scripts, class ideas, workshops, random phrases I fall in love with, all of my hopes and dreams. Every thing.

I had recently made a mental note to upload them all somewhere, just in case anything happened to my phone.  That was a couple of weeks ago. I remember that I had somewhere around 260 notes at the time.

When I picked up the phone it was black. Dead. I remember this happening once before so I thought it could be resolved.  I was hopeful.  I didn’t want to lose those notes!

The things I would run back in to the house to save in a fire? Nothing. Because all of my ideas are right here in my pocket at any given moment. Or in my hand. I keep them close, I hold on tight. Usually.

I felt physically nauseous at the AT&T store as she told me the bad news. ‘It’s dead, Kim.’

Sigh. I knew it wasn’t permanent. I know nothing really is.

We try so hard to hold on to things. We make our lists. We capture our thoughts. We photograph every thing we see. The moments that we deem post-worthy make it to social media. Others are relegated to The Folder.

We move through our lives capturing whatever we can with the Technology Du Jour.

We send our memories up into the clouds, where they will disappear so slowly, we won’t even know it’s happening.


Listen to Joni. She knows.


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Another Teachable Moment

When I was around thirteen I took a trip to The City with a group of people. I think it was a church youth group, but I can’t remember the specifics. I do remember it was a cold day. We were moving through the city streets, and when we arrived at Rockefeller Center, the crowd grew thick. I remember looking up at the tree. I remember hearing the sounds of the city, and smelling the roasting chestnuts and pretzels. I remember people pressing in all around me.

And I remember a hand, reaching between my legs from behind and grabbing me. I was so shocked by the experience that when I realized what had happened and turned around, they had disappeared into the crowd. I remember the feeling that I had. Fear. Nausea. Panic. Shame. I could feel the hand on me all day. I can still feel it now.


(So many women I know have a story like this.)


This was not the only time something like this happened. I rather enjoyed slamming around in mosh pits when I was an older teenager. For the most part the music lovers I engaged with were respectful. Of course there were accidental familiarities, but they were almost always followed by an “Oops, I’m sorry”, and a “No problem”. They were simple hazards of the dance,  like an elbow to the nose.


There was a time that I ended up dancing with the wrong people and the familiarities were obviously not accidental at all. What started as an energy releasing whirl around the dance floor turned into a groping session. Sadly, I had to give up the mosh pit. Leave it to the boys. From then on I never danced in the company of strangers.


(So many women I know have a story like this.)


The difference between the accidents and the groping… Objectification. The idea that a woman, or any person at all, is an object to be used for your own pleasure with no regard for their humanity is deplorable. Condoning that sort of behavior, endorsing a person who advocates that behavior is unacceptable.


Objectification starts at home. Whenever we are not basing a person’s value on their humanity we are subtly feeding into this type of behavior. Every single time.


If we are constantly judging people by their outward appearance, we are sending a message to our kids that other people are there to please us. They are objects for us to judge, and deem pleasing or not. If we find ourselves standing in front of the mirror and complaining about our weight, our wrinkles, our looks, we are sending messages to our kids that we are objects to be judged by others.


We feed into a culture of objection in so many little ways. Superficial judgment. Idle gossip. The catty chatter of girls. Trash talking.  Locker room banter. Boys will be boys.


It is objectification, plain and simple, and objectification tries to rob a person of their humanity, to justify it’s own existence. I have been objectified many times in my life. Sexually abused by my grandfather. Raped when I was ten. Slut shamed by ‘friends’. Groped in crowds. It is a horrible experience to be reduced to an object. It is dehumanizing.


(So many people I know have stories like these.)


I don’t ever want to dehumanize another person. I don’t want my kids to associate with people who objectify other human beings. I certainly do not want them to learn that a man who objectifies other human beings is fit to run our country.


This is a wonderful opportunity for us to sit down with our children and teach them what respect and dignity really mean.


(Tell them your stories.)





My earworm. The grabbing hands, grab all they can.

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Grandma & The Speckled Man

(For the people who leave their mark on our lives; dear loved ones, and random strangers.)

My parents weren’t churchgoers. We never really talked about religion much in our house. I wasn’t even baptized as an infant. But, for whatever reason, they decided to baptize me after my brother was born. Maybe it was because he was so colicky they thought he might be the antichrist!  They were so desperate they were willing to try anything to save him, and themselves!

I was just shy of 5 years old at the time.  My paternal grandmother had been bringing me to church occasionally.  The pastor was a long haired hippie whose name was also Kim. He played the guitar, and we sang songs like ‘Yes! Jesus Loves Me’ and ‘Michael, Row the Boat Ashore’. In Sunday School we made macaroni crafts and bead bracelets and learned about Jesus from one of the other grandmas.

On the day of my On-second-thought Christening I was standing up in the front of the church, on stage. I can remember my corduroy dress and tights, and my awesome Buster Brown shoes.  I remember my infant brother, next to me in someone’s arms, crying. I felt the water on my forehead. I heard the words the minister was saying.

I looked out into the pews to see the faces of the children I had been going to Sunday school with, and the faces of their families. All of the brown faces. Standing there, with my wet head, I was a part of the community.  I felt like I belonged.

Back at home, my maternal grandfather teased me about going to a church full of black people.  He was saying some mean things that didn’t make sense to me. I hadn’t realized that there were only two white families in the church. I didn’t understand why he was doing it, but I started to think that maybe I didn’t really belong there?

Later on,  my maternal grandmother and I were playing checkers.  Without my grandfather around, she told me how she felt.  She told me that skin didn’t matter at all because one day, everyone would be the same color. She said ‘Someday everyone will be light brown. We will all have light brown eyes, and brown hair. Someday we will all look the same.’ And then she said ‘King me!’

I didn’t realize how ahead of her time she was. Born in the 1920’s in Newark, NJ,  raised by Italian immigrants, married to an Archie Bunker style bigot, and having just recently witnessed the race riots in her home town, she was completely convinced that interacial marriage would some day make us all light brown. And she stated it as a matter of fact, with no judgment at all. Of course, I didn’t understand the significance of this conversation. I was five.

I also didn’t understand that she was talking about the distant future. SO, for the next few days, I woke up expecting to BE light brown.

I looked in the mirror to see if my blue eyes were changing. I checked the freckles on my skin to see if they were multiplying. I brushed my dark blonde hair with disdain.

I wasn’t changing.  I started to give up hope that it would ever happen.
Then one day my father and I took one of our regular trips down to ‘the joint’ to bring some dinner to my uncles. “The joint” was a bar and liquor store that my mom’s family owned in the 1st ward. It had been Newark’s Little Italy  until the urban renewal project of the 1950’s redesigned the neighborhood. Twelve lower income high rise towers were built, so they could cram as many people as possible into the smallest amount of real estate. We just called them The Projects.

It was now a very diverse neighborhood and most of the men that hung outside ‘the joint’ on the corner were black.  They all knew my dad and me, so they greeted us as we walked by ‘Hey, Billy Boy!’ and, ‘Hello little lady.’

And then I saw him.  There was a man standing on the corner who had a little ball of flesh where his hand was supposed to be. He was missing a hand, but that was not what had my full attention.  It was the coloring that caught my eye. His one hand was dark brown, but his stump was pink. His forearm above the stump was white and his upper arm was speckled, black and white! I looked at his face. It was speckled too! There were patches around his eyes, the corners of his mouth, on his ears. So many different shades of brown and peach and pink.
Grandma was right! It was happening!  This man was proof! He was already changing! I smiled and waved to him.  He smiled back at me.  I walked into the smoky bar with my father, hopeful for the future, satisfied with the world.
I was completely convinced that it would happen to me as well. I kept waiting for the day when I would start to change. I kept waiting for the day when everyone would be the same.

In some ways, I’m still waiting.









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Keep Talkin’ Trash

‘He is just a piece of trash!’
I’ve heard you saying this lately.

‘She’s such a lying piece of trash.’
You’ve said it twice today.

Calling them trash.
Implying that they are garbage.
That they are somehow less than human.
Just a non-person.
Of no use to you.
Whose life has no real value.
In your privileged opinion.

Their life has the same value as yours.
Their life has the same potential as yours.
For growth and change.
The same potential to improve, repent.
The same potential to make mistakes.
To do good deeds.
To break the law.
To lie. To cheat.
To rationalize. To smooth things over.
To panic. To soothe.
To manipulate.
To present things in a favorable light.
To twist reality. To suit their selves.
To believe in things so deeply that they can see no other way.
To love to hate to hunger to thirst to cry to care to cut themselves off,
to close their minds, to open their hearts,
to build up temples of ideology, to construct castles in the clouds,
to grasp at straws,
and to cling to objects.

To laugh and sing.
To run and jump.
To fall and shatter.
To battle bravely.
And to succumb.

To live for a short time on this earth.

And then to die.
To be buried underground.
Or incinerated.
Just like trash, in fact.

Just like you.




Listen to Oscar. He loves trash!


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Not Quite Woke

It was the first home game of the season. I was sitting in the bleachers right next to the band, right next to my sousaphone player. We were talking about the day, the upcoming competitions, the wonderful weather. 

And then the announcement came over the loudspeaker: ‘Please rise for our national anthem.’

At that moment my sousa player turned to me, as she hoisted her instrument onto her shoulder. She looked me straight in the eye, and commanded loudly enough for everyone around us to hear, ‘Please rise!’

I’m not sure if she was telling me to rise because she knew I didn’t want to, or telling me not to rise, because she knew I didn’t want to. 

Time seemed to stand still as my head began to spin. I hadn’t thought about this beforehand. Without even realizing I was moving, I rose to my feet and brought my hands behind my back. I was squeezing my left wrist with my right hand and scanning the crowd to see if anyone was sitting, or kneeling. 

I looked at my Sousa girl and I half-said half-asked ‘I should take a knee?’ just as they struck the first note. 

As my grip tightened, my eyes searched for someone, anyone to give me a sign, some sort of sign that they were as uncomfortable as I was in this moment. A sign that they understood that the things going on in our messed up world don’t stop when our kids are out on the field. A sign that they realize there are real issues that must be addressed. A sign that they know we are in the midst of something, a change that is coming, a revolution that is stirring. A sign that together we can be a small part of it all.

I kept searching for something. Anything. I felt like I was drifting alone and I needed someone to throw me a line.

And then I saw it. She was standing there with her hands in her pockets. They were not on her heart. She was not singing. She looked uncomfortable. I wasn’t the only one.

A few minutes later when she came up to sit next to me, she said ‘I heard you talking. Were you thinking of taking a knee?’

And the tears began to well up in my eyes and my body began to shake a little bit. 

Because I was thinking of doing it. And because I hadn’t done it.

‘I’m so mad at myself that I didn’t do it. I shouldn’t have stood up.’ I could feel the heat reddening my face.

‘You really have to be down on the field for it to make an impact.’ she said. At least I think that’s what she said. I couldn’t hear it over the sound of the deafening heart pounding hypocrisy in my head.

‘But I should’ve done it.’ I said. ‘I should have.’

For her. I should’ve done it for her. For her son. Her son whom I know and love. For his siblings. For the handful of other black and brown kids in the overwhelmingly white crowd. 

‘What if I did it?’ She said. ‘Imagine if I did it. That would really make people uncomfortable.’

‘And they should be! They should be uncomfortable!’ I said, as I sniffed the snot in my nose and wiped a tear from my eye. 

I had to pull myself together. I was a bit of a mess.

Was anyone else an uncomfortable mess? Was anyone else mad at themselves for standing? Did anyone else feel complicit? Was anyone else shaken?

I’m still shaken. I’m still tearful. And I’m sorry.

There’s another game next week. 

What will I do next week? 

Wake Up, Rage Against the Machine 

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Choked on The Wonder Of It All

Pistachio cupcake sitting on a dish.

Here’s the candle.
Blow it out!
Make a wish!

You can Wish for fortune
Wish for fame
Wish for happiness
Peace, personal gain.
Wish for a beach-book-blanket warm vacation .
A trip to some exotic destination.
Wish for a giant party-gala-ball.
Wish for a way 
to get away 
from it all.

But I don’t want to get away from this. 

I want to get closer, yes, that is my wish.

Closer to it all 
To feel it all
To see it all 
To smell it all 
And taste it all 
To hear it all 
And touch it all 
To Live it all,
Yes, Do it all 
Enjoy it all 
Imagine it all
Question it all 
So I can learn it all
And become it all.

I don’t want to wish it all away.
I don’t need an extra long vacation.

Every single day is my birthday.
Every single breath, a meditation.

Sure, I could wish for sunshine and no rain,
I could wish for perfect health, no pain, 
I could wish for comfort ease and grace,
A fat wallet, skinny ass, smooth face.

I could wish for so many other things, 
But what I want is 
all that this life brings. 

I want to get closer to it all
To feel it all
To see it all 
To smell it all 
And taste it all 
To hear it all 
And touch it all 
To live it all
Yes, Do it all 
Enjoy it all 
Imagine it all
Question it all 
So I can learn it all
And become it all.

The hard the soft
the good the bad the grind, 
The crazy busy stress, the peace of mind, 

The calm and cool of surprisingly easy days, 
The stupid shit that always seems to get in the way,
the beautiful the ugly the sweet the sour,
the minutes as they fly, the endless hour.

I want to feel it all
as it comes my way
Living moment to moment,
day to day.

Just a simple series of choices in my head,
That I’ll make over and over again until I’m dead.

And now, I have a choice,
To make a wish.
I’m wishing for another day of this. 

All of this. 
That’s all.
I wish to get closer
to it all.


The earworm for this post is  Flickering Wall. Have a listen.


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Play Ball

I don’t know much about football, don’t much care for competitive sports, but I’ve been to a lot of games. Shannon cheered for a few years and Maggie has been in the marching band for three. 

When I’m in the stands, I never really pay attention to the actual game. I watch my kids do their thing, and my attention is drawn more to people watching, observing human behavior.  

At one of the first Pee-Wee games I attended, I was watching people on the snack line, when I heard a collective gasp! Then the stands fell quiet, and everyone’s heads turned the same way. I followed their gaze to the field. 

The players were scattered about on their knees, the cheerleaders were on their knees.

I turned to my neighbor. 
What’s going on?
There’s a man down.
Someone is hurt. Everyone takes a knee until they make sure he’s okay. 

Isn’t that wonderful, 
I thought. Everything stops. Everyone’s attention is on the injured person. A show of concern. Compassion. Respect. Solidarity. A reminder that this can be a dangerous game, and any one of these players can be the man down at any given time. 

This morning I read that Megan Rapinoe took a knee during the National Anthem.  She didn’t do it to disrespect the flag. She did it to show support for Colin Kaepernick. Colin did it to bring awareness to injustice.

Thee are so many conversations we can have about this. 

It’s unpatriotic. 

It’s disrespectful. 

It’s brave. 

It’s an expression of our Liberty. 

It spits on The Flag. 

It honors The Flag. 

Everyone takes a side. But it doesn’t matter what team you’re on. Those conversations aren’t important right now.  

There’s a man down. And when a man is down, the whole stadium takes a knee. Until that man is lifted up. 

Open your eyes and pay attention to the game. There are men down! 


As long as there are men down, we should all take a knee.


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