Frequently Not Asked Questions: Six


How much money do you make?




It’s illegal to make money unless you are the federal government, so I’m surprised you would ask me that.



Please note that Lincoln looks reserved.


Like me I’m sure you have bookmarked Article 1, Section 8, Clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution, which grants the federal government the right to “coin” money. That meant gold and silver. Our Founding Fathers distrusted and eschewed* paper money, so they expressly prohibited states from “emitting” it.



You probably also know that Abraham Lincoln signed the first U.S. federal emission law allowing the government to print bills. In 1862, government IOUs in the form of “greenbacks” began circulating their way throughout the land until they landed in the pockets of the rich. It’s been that way ever since. The government called these bills Tender Notes, which I find rather endearing. Now, of course, the government no longer sends out Tender Notes; instead, they send out Reserve Notes. On our new colorful missives, the government promises that the Federal Reserve Banks have purchased enough U.S. Treasury securities (i.e., government debt) to cover “all debts, public and private.”



If that doesn’t make you feel secure, I don’t know what would. As a nation, we have debt coming out of the “wazoo” (French for “Congress”), and as of today, it stood (momentarily) at $16,804,904,109.526, give or take 25 cents. An endless supply of debt means an endless supply of securities, which means an endless supply of Reserve Notes promising to cover any and all other debts.



Please note: The writer of this blog reserves the right to interpret history and facts in a manner that tickles her fancy. If your fancy starts to itch when reading this post, please stop immediately and read your nearest economics book.



*Use of the word “eschew” entitles any writer or reader of this post the right to liberate one piece of chocolate per writing and/or reading.





The great menace

Those arms may look inviting, but sit there at your peril.

Those arms may look inviting, but sit there at your peril.


While Americans have been watching reality TV, the other reality, the real one, has been walking the empty streets of America, unhindered and free to do its insidious work. Thankfully, I eschew* reality TV and have been looking out of my window with my binoculars, so I know exactly what reality is up to.


What I have discovered is that an ever-growing, never-stopping, constantly encroaching horror is heading our way. Yes, another –ism is threatening our way of life. And this time, I think we are losing the battle. Although we have successfully fought and overcome communism, fascism, chauvinism, sexism, cubism, and tourism, I don’t know if we will be able to stop this new menace: horizontalism.


Don’t let the name of the movement fool you. This has nothing to do with napping, a perfectly normal and healthy hobby enjoyed by many. No, this refers to body sprawl, when ones frame enlarges and takes in more and more of the scenery.


The food-furniture complex, a nefarious alliance much like the military-industrial complex, has created conditions leading to the deliberate horizontalization of Americans. It is a well-known, fully established mythical fact that the size of the tank determines the size of the fish, but did you know that the width of the recliner determines the size of the hips? As recliners have grown larger and wider, so have Americans. And if we dig deeper into recliners, what do we find? Cheetos, jelly beans, caramel popcorn, and broken pretzels. Show me a recliner, and I will show you crumby evidence of the unhealthy food cabal wedged within. If that isn’t ipso facto Nabisco, I obviously don’t know what ipso facto Nabisco means.


The threat grows greater every day. Even as you sit there reading this, horizontalism is spreading. The powers that feed and seat us control millions of Americans, each body a bilateral movement expanding in a parody of Manifest Destiny, seeking to reach from side to side (or thigh to thigh) of that comfy recliner. I have a haunch that it will continue until we get up and do something, anything.


Fight horizontalism today or it will get all of us in the end.





*On this website, each time a writer uses the word “eschew,” a piece of chocolate is released from its wrapper and set free to become one with the universe (i.e., yearstricken).

Sinister recliner

Mismatched memories


The house we do most of our living in sits across from the smartest block in our city. The north side of the smarty-pants block hosts an elementary school, the northwest corner lends its land to a charter school, and the south side carries a middle school on its back. Mornings and afternoons cars line up outside the schools, disgorge or engorge students, and slowly drive off into whatever comes next. Some children, however, still walk to school.



The other day as I was driving past the middle school, I saw a girl wearing one white sock and one black sock. Suddenly those socks were to me, what that madeleine was to Proust. The only difference between our experiences is that I didn’t have to eat the socks to invoke my involuntary memory and Proust did. He ate, of course, a madeleine, not a pair of socks, which if he or I had done would have merely invoked an involuntary gag reflex. Oddly, that is my exact response when I remember junior high and its humiliations.



My memories of that time center on the betrayal of my body. As a young child my body took care of me, balancing me on bicycles and roller skates, walking me to school and back, and carrying me through those early years without asking much in return. A band-aid for a skinned knee, a dreamsicle on a hot summer’s day, and whatever clothes I could find, mismatched or not, satisfied it.



Then the change came. In health class I watched the educational films about the wonderful changes waiting for me when I arrived on puberty’s shore. I would turn in my child’s body for that of a beautiful young woman, except I didn’t. I had the same body, only pimply, hairy, and lumpy in all the wrong places. Worst of all, I could not go back to my pirate days or run wild through the neighborhood seeking adventure.




Now I had an awkward body to shower, with legs and underarms that needed shaving, and parts that needed straps and hooks to harness in (the special underwear of the initiated). Everyday I had to present this new body to the world to be judged by its impossible standards of beauty. My body elicited comments, mostly from boys but also from girls, about its lack of conformity to the beautiful women who lived in our TVs, danced across our movie screens, and permanently resided in our minds. I had never been a stranger to self-consciousness or public embarrassment as a child, but most of the time I was free from of it. When the changes came, I picked up that terrible burden and carried it with me everywhere I went.



Sadly I never had such a large bow nest in my hair.

My hairstyle of choice during junior high was a bird’s nest. My top hair, cut short, was first permed, and then rolled into obedience each night. On good hair days, with teasing and hairspray, the bangs poofed down and the top poofed up creating an ideal place for a large velvet bow to perch. The rest of my hair was left long. By lathering it in Dippity-Do and sleeping on rollers, I could flip the ends upward and outward like bird wings. It’s what all the bird-brained girls did.



The worst class of junior high was PE because we were required to take showers, and the teacher stood near the open showers to make sure we all went through. Each day I faced the task of deciding how I would humiliate myself.  I was allowed only one small towel, so I could either cover my body as I ran through or cover my hair to protect my hair. I was younger than most of the other girls because I started school earlier, so while their bodies looked more and more like women’s, my looked like it had started to develop and then changed its mind. Sometimes I opted for that first mortification, covering my hair; other times I opted for the second. In those cases, I could cover my body, but all or part of my hair got wet. I never knew if I would emerge with all of the long part straightened or look in the mirror to find one side still flipping up while the other side hung down like a broken wing. Almost always, the little nest on top turned into a soggy, frizzy mop.


Why did those mismatched socks I saw the other day uncover these memories?  One popular style at my school was a pleated skirt, a pullover sweater, knee socks, and tennis shoes. If you wore a white skirt with a black sweater, it was considered high fashion to wear one white sock with a black tennis shoe and one black sock with a white tennis shoe. The velvet bow in your bird’s nest could be either black or white. I could never decide which was better; both went well with the red face of humiliation I usually wore.

Winter rime and winter rhyme


Winter’s minions stand their ground.


The book of days that hangs upon my wall told me more than a week ago that spring was here. I’m waiting, trying to believe it’s true.


Yes, the time of rime is now past, but winter lingers, reluctant to leave. Though the thermometer says it is 23 degrees this morning, winter sends its winds to swallow 5 degrees or more.


I brood. Rime, the ice that winter paints the trees with, rhymes with “rhyme.”


The time of rhyme is also past. Once upon a time, poets moved in measured footsteps, inviting us to join the verbal dance. Often when a line stopped and bowed its rhyme, the next one mirrored those same steps, matching the sound in kind. Some poets slanted rhymes or placed them inside, waltzing to a steady beat until the final curtsey.


These days we like our rhymes sung, whether hip-hop, pop, or rock. Our poems are free to wander, twirl, and spin. Free verse creates its own steps and feels no constraint to follow someone else’s choreography. It rhymes or not, according to its own interpretation of the dance.


I would like to rhyme and dance a poem, but I have two left feet. However, it doesn’t stop me from trying.


So, today, I’ll share a poem of winter’s end, written years ago for my children. I warn you now: should you cross beyond the yellow tape, you’ll wind up in a rhyme scene.

Rhyme Scene



Sweet swift dreams buried lie,

Mourned with long and silver sighs

Winter bares his strength ice-cold,

Tyrant clothed in robe of snow.


None would even dare to try

Reason with those deathful eyes;

Piercing, chilling, large and small;

Well he knows we’re cowards all.


Oh so proud, he comes with foot

Booted.  And where once had stood

Tender creatures soft and green,

Sterile, barren world is seen.


Laughing with a blasting wind

Opens court, his reign begins.

Long he banquets, drinks the wine

Stolen from the summer vine.


Largely ‘neath his grey tent sky

Sated monarch, drunken lies

Sleeping.  Snores with white-cold breath;

All his subjects wait, in death.


Deep in dreams his lover spies,

Hoary kisses tantalize.

Then sound with laughing fingers cracks

His smooth white dream, still unhatched.


Would one dare disturb this king

Who exiled thousands born to sing;

Southern regions welcomed them

Feathered orphans, fled on wing.


Still the sound, gentle laughter,

Warmly wrapping ‘round the rafters;

Anger fills the tyrant’s breast,

“Halt!” he cries with frosty breath.


Comes a child with melting smile,

Skips and flowers multiply.

Smaller growing, puddle king,

Conquered by the barefoot Spring.


Melting minions.

Melting minions.