Friday, July 24, 2015

The Drunk - A Poem and Photograph by Patty Mooney

No one loved sugar more
than the drunk who
each morning took his post
at John's coffee stand.
Who knows where
the drunk slept,
his full head of Einstein
hair the envy of all
the balding strangers.
Every day
John granted the drunk
a bit of mercy -
a donut or a cinnamon bun
and a cup of sweet coffee.
And the rumpled drunk
would thank John
with a sweep of his hand
and a swagger
like Richard Burton,
homage of a free man
to indentured servants en route
to their towers, clutching lattes
and forcing their eyes down.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The King and Queen of Hearts - Story and Photograph by Patty Mooney

It was not pretty to watch my sister’s marriage collapse as her husband, Clay, failed to hold on to any job for very long, racked up a few debts, promised to be a better man and never did get around to it. After five years, it took a lot of courage for Jeanne to finally confront him with the news that she no longer loved him and wanted a divorce.

He spun away like a top out of control, leaving Jeanne with debts that dated back to before they’d even met. We later learned that Clay took up living with a single mom, whom he impregnated with twins, and then left. “Love ‘em and leave ‘em pregnant” was a pattern Clay had established twice before meeting Jeanne. Although it had always been Jeanne’s biggest dream to have a child, she was happy to have evaded Clay’s “downward spiral.”

Thank goodness for Theatre Sports, a local San Diego improvisational comedy troupe, to which Jeanne belonged. Being with her friends at practice and on-stage helped to alleviate the kind of anxieties a person experiences after the demise of a marriage, even a bad one. All the world knows that laughter is indeed the best medicine!

One of her Theatre Sports buddies, Andy, had a special fondness for Jeanne, and after the appropriate “grieving period” following Jeanne’s divorce, Andy began sending her flowers and love poems. It was already apparent that they shared similar interests. After a few bona fide dates, they learned that they had many things in common, including a love for children, art, the movies, good food and fine wine…

And then one day we family members received a wedding invitation on rolled parchment to announce that Jeanne and Andy were planning a Masquerade Wedding.

Family and friends all got into the masquerade spirit, some of whom attended in elaborate costumes. Even the minister, a long-time friend of Jeanne and Andy, wore a wizard hat and robe. Of course, the bride and groom were not to be outdone by anyone in attendance, and appeared in their royal attire as King and Queen of Hearts. Jeanne had hand-sewn dozens of sparkly hearts onto her gown, and looked happier than I’d ever seen her.

They say that when one door closes, you need only to look, to find another door that will lead you on the path of your desire. In this case, Jeanne stepped out of the gloom room and into a world of laughter where she is living happily ever after with her King of Hearts and their two little princes.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Ladies, Do It For Your Lover - by Patty Mooney

At the time I thought it was a little cheesey, but now I am so glad I did it because it turned out to be a gift that just keeps giving.

What could it possibly be, you may be asking yourself. What? Why, a series of glamour photos of myself as a gift to my husband, of course.

About ten years ago, I found a photographer who was well versed in the ways of posing a woman's body to her best advantage. William Morton at Second Glance Studio in Escondido was a wizard at lighting, which is highly important. I brought along several different garments to wear, and some translated better on film than others. He used various backdrops and props, and now all these years later, I'm glad I did it. It froze time for both Mark and me.

If you've never had it done, and you always wanted to do it, then do it now. It's a lot of fun, and it makes you and your lover both feel special. I suggest looking at the portfolios of several photographers before choosing the right one. Some people are better at producing wedding photos or convention photos or action photos. You want the person who is good at making you look beautiful, who specializes in "glamour" or "boudoir" photography. Also, in addition to sexy clothing, I brought some business outfits, and had William snap some face shots of me that I use to this day in business-related press.

My boudoir photography session yielded some of the best photographs I have of myself. If you live near San Diego, definitely call upon William at Second Glance. Otherwise, you will need to find a special photographer in your area who can bring out your smiling eyes, your gorgeous smile and that lovely face that will shine on your bedstand for years to come.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Mistaken Appearances - A Poem and Photograph by Patty Mooney

The lemon on the high branch is not an orange.
The stick on the trail is not a snake.
The falcon that hit the window is not alive.
The latté mocha frappé is not a cup of coffee.
The man on the cross is not my father.
The circus is not your living room.
The fake sushi is not sustenance.
The Pontiac is not a Chevrolet.
The animals are not children.
The matron is not a mother.
The roaches are not guests.
The Buddhist is not real.
The wallet is not a pig.
The ceiling is not a floor.
The ocean is not a shadow.
The sky is not paper.
The frogs are not a chorus.
The hearse is not a limo.
The wine is not water.
The news is not the truth.
These cupped hands are not lotus bowls.
This breath is not silence.
These dreams are not science.
This life is not the end.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Cars I Have Known and Loved - by Patty Mooney

All that I know about cars could probably fit into a thimble. Considering my father and his father before him devoted their lives to Detroit's automobile industry, this really tells you something.

I remember that the biggest curiosity I had about automobiles had to do with how many and what kind of insects I could find in the grill of my dad's four-door Dodge sedan whenever he returned from a road trip across the Midwest.

My own first car is worth writing about in that it provided a surplus amount of lessons for the naive, young woman I once was. To give you an idea of where it ranked in my own mind, I used to refer to it as the "Brown Turd." It was a 1965 Dodge Dart and I bought it in 1978 on the recommendation of a good friend who adored Dodge Darts. And my dad was a Dodge man himself, having given The Company 25 solid years of his life. Maybe I had a love-hate relationship with the Dodge even before I bought the one that "popped my cherry" because I certainly resented the lack of a father, as mine was always at work or on a sales trip. When he did come home, my mom admonished us to "leave your father alone" and let him read his paper while sipping his two nightly martinis.

The Brown Turd certainly caused its share of anguish in my early twenties at which time all I needed was a reliable mode of transportation to get me to work and back home. Prior to owning the car, I had ridden a series of buses, and before that I had hitchhiked. My friend, the one who adored Dodge Darts, frowned on the hitchhiking, disdained the busing, found me the Brown Turd, and I went along with it. He checked it out and everything seemed A-OK, so I signed on the dotted line, and the car was mine.

A few months after purchasing this "Sepia Lemon" I was on the way to the beach with my sister, Jeanne. Remember, I was 23 years old and so I found it appropriate to be driving around in my bikini. So when a cop pulled me over because the car was belching smoke out of its tailpipe (I was oblivious until he mentioned it), I stepped out of the car to ask, "Is there anything wrong, officer?" He let me off with a warning - I mean, what else could he do, right?

I took the car to a mechanic suggested by my friend (who I hope is not reading this!). Now that it is defunct, and because it is 30 years later, I think I can now tell the world that Ken over at Advance Automotive saw me coming (I had clothes on by then) and informed me that I would need an entirely new engine because there was a crack in the block. You know, $800 in 1978 was hella huge for a secretary like me. But I swallowed this news, and wrote him the first check of several installations, and let him and his crew go to work. It took them longer than they said it would, and I had to hitchhike and ride the bus around a lot more than I wanted to, but finally the Dart was ready.

Wouldn't you know it, but just a few months later the car was again spewing smoke. And when I took it back to Ken, he told me that it needed ANOTHER new engine, and that there was no warranty on his prior work. It was somehow my fault that this recently-installed engine had another crack or the pistons were crooked or whatever.

23-year-old clueless-about-automobiles girl + conniving bee-yatch named Ken = major fallout

That afternoon I was so perturbed about the whole series of events, I drove the Turd over to a collision shop that paid me $100 on the spot for the thing and I just walked away.

Thirty years later, I could write you a book on what to do and what not to do if faced with the same scenario. Instead, I will now relate the story of the first car I owned that I truly cared about, and that reciprocated in kind.... All who knew it called it the "Love Bug."

I found it myself through a classified ad in Pacific Beach where I was living at the time. It was a 1968 VW bug that had been owned by only one other person. It had been built in Panama and it was red, and it was adorable. The only thing was, I did not know how to drive a stick shift. So the seller taught me how, and I was on my way the very same day.

As much pain and disgust as I had experienced with the Brown Turd, it was the complete opposite with the Love Bug. It was a joy to drive it around. I used to change the oil myself. It was the excellent hippy-chick ride! At one point I had it painted purple, my favorite color. Then I was involved in an accident with a guy who should have been wearing his glasses, but wasn't, so that's when it became the two-tone purple bug. My husband now speaks fondly about it to our friends, mentioning how it was like being in the Easter Parade when driving around in it.

I didn't think I would ever bid goodbye to the Love Bug, except Mark and I decided to sell or give away everything we owned so that we could drive around North America, Alaska and Canada in a Chinook (small camper) in 1986, so my mom bought the Love Bug for my sister, Jeanne, who nearly immediately had it painted blue and didn't worship it nearly as much as I did. By then I was off on such amazing adventures that no mere possessions had any hold on me. I was fishing for trout in Oregon, walking around and through redwood trees, getting chased by a grizzly in the Yukon.

I never did take a photo of the Brown Turd (maybe I would have burned it if I had) and I only have this one existing shot of the Love Bug to illustrate my story relating this woman's love affair with her car.

When we returned from our nine-month journey, we bought a Honda Civic, the first in a succession of work-horse vehicles over the years. We now have a Ford Focus and my dad is happy it's a "Detroit product" but the charm that oozed from every pore of the Love Bug is nowhere to be found in our silver streamlined station wagon. The Focus is a wonderful piece of transportation, handsome and reliable. If I had the Love Bug today, I probably would rather hop into the Focus for a quick trip to the grocery store or the dentist. Maybe it's the time of life that the Love Bug represents - when Mark and I were poised together on the threshold of our dreams, curious, unscathed and unafraid, proud to drive around in a purple and pink two-toned Easter egg.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Grandma's Teeth - A Poem by Patty Mooney

Grandma would take her teeth out, the mouth suck in
talk funny with tongue abandoned, no tooth to touch
each word, her bedtime ritual. In a glass by the sink
dentures grinning from their pale solution.
When she’d wear them next morning refreshed
from a deep sleep, the teeth as though filled
with nocturnal news, would clack against gums
like a compulsive gossip. A bad fit yet still
Grandma would indulge in her kielbasa and pierogies,
still she would take what she wanted, and swallow it whole.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Mayan Rabbit Scribe - by Patty Mooney

I first learned about the Mayan Rabbit Scribe back in 2000 when Mark and I went to Guatemala to explore the ruins at Tikal. I had been to several various sites in the past, including Chichen-Itza, Tulum and Coba because I've been fascinated with the Mayan culture ever since I was a child.

Perhaps I even manifested these Mayan temple journeys as a teenager while coloring in the drawings of a Mayan-Incan-Aztec coloring book I bought at a second-hand store. That is Quetzalcoatl as Venus, The Evening Star to the left.

The amount of information that you can find about the Mayan culture online or in your local library is nothing compared with the facts and lore you hear from the tour guides onsite.

While visiting Tikal, I learned that the Mayans had kept journals of their history and culture, called "codices" most of which were destroyed by order of a Spanish padre who thought that the books were the work of the devil. By his order, anyone caught with a codex would be summarily tortured and or killed. Only four codices (some of them partial) survived.

For generations, as the stelas and other stone carvings of the Mayans disintegrated, no one could understand what those carvings meant, and an entire culture was about to be submerged by the tides of history until a few archaeologists figured out the mysteries of the glyphs.

I met a couple of archaeologists who had come to Tikal to photograph artifacts and carvings. They had dedicated their lives to understanding the Mayan way of life. One, by the name of Eleanor "Bunny" Coates, had been coming to Mayan sites for many years. She told me about the Rabbit Scribe.

I glommed right onto that entity, as I'm a writer myself, and I know what it is like to be the family documentarian. I know how important the writer is - although unsung - in any movie or video production you will ever happen to see. Without the writer, nothing gets written down! Without the writer, the memory of an event or series of events loses detail and soon fades into obscurity

Here is an explanation of the Rabbit Scribe that I found at the website of a company that uses the rabbit scribe as its logo, Anthrobytes Consulting:

About the Rabbit

The scribe rabbit comes from a scene on a painted Classic Maya (circa 300 to 900 AD) vase, probably used to hold a chocolate drink.

In the Classic Maya culture (~300 to ~800 AD), scribes recorded important events for royalty using a phonetically-based hieroglyphic script. The Classic Maya depicted scribes as rabbits on vases and murals.

The rabbit in this graphic is writing on a jaguar-skin covered fan-folding book called a codex. Many of these books survived and were still being read after the Spanish conquest. Unfortunately, the Spanish thought the books were the work of the devil and were preventing the Maya people from becoming civilized.

After the conquest, the Spanish Father Diego de Landa ordered all Mayan books gathered and burned in a huge bonfire in a town in the central Yucatan called Maní. (The town still exists and is a lovely, sleepy, small town.) Any Maya person caught with a book was tortured and put to death.

The Maya thought that writing was very important and wrote on everything—ceramics, vases, walls, stairs, statuary, plates, nearly anything. Although many examples of this writing exist on ceramics and other items, only 3 confirmed Mayan codices exist in the world today. Researchers, called Maya epigraphers, are learning to read these writings.