The scene begins shortly after my arrival at the Omega Memoir Festival in Rhinebeck, New York.

photo courtesy of Paula's Plate

I am drinking straight from the bottle when she walks in. And I am topless.

I hear the porch door open - hear the creek of flaccid floorboards. I stare at the knob and wait. I tell you it did not turn. The door flies open and there I am - sucking straight from a bottle of gin.

I say gin because I recently heard a man say that gin is what country songs are steeped in. Gin will make you leave your wife, quit your job and kick your dog – and you should never kick your dog.

Okay, it wasn’t gin. It was wine. And not the good stuff. I was sucking on a $9.00 bottle of slightly chilled, California chardonnay.  Even so…

Her eyes popped. She was stuck on my mounds. My ridiculous, uneven, mounds –  500 cc silicone implants swaddled in torn muscle and taut skin.

I have no nipples. No areola. In its place are red, raw, seven inch scars. I’m proud of my scars. They comfort me. They prove to me that I am cancer free.

I wish I remembered to pack a glass. I wish I drank gin.

I put down my bottle and put on a commanding stance. My Zen is gone.

This is not drunken vision. Yes, its true there are two beds here but I tell you, I paid for one. I reluctantly agreed to share a bathroom but NOT a bedroom. That is where I draw the line. It’s not that I am spoiled. True I brought my own pillow, my overstuffed down pillow, and my 700 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets, and my cashmere blanket - just incase the nights are cool. But I assure you, I am NOT spoiled.

I have proof of my single occupancy room. I have an email confirmation, which I cannot access due to the lack of internet service. I would call if only there was a phone in the room, or if I had cellular service. Instead, I parade down the beaten path in my very best, commanding stance.

I’d let her stay if only she wasn’t so pretty. And thin. And smartly dressed. Her breasts look real. Her hair, despite the humidity, is sleek and straight. Those are freshly pedicured toes. I can tell. And what size rock is that on her finger? It’s gaudy and tasteless and she really must go.

I am beat red by the time I reach guest services. I consider playing the pink card – the breast cancer card, but I’m not quite sure how that warrants a single occupancy room. I remember a friend telling me how, because of a recent staff infection, she is guaranteed a private room during hospital stays. I think about inheriting my friends staff infection, then decide its not worth the karma.

I stop short of stomping my feat. I don’t need to play the pink card, or the bitch card, or the contagious card. This situation, misconstrued as catastrophic in my vivid, vast, wild, imagination, is easily resolved. It is a mistake. A simple, human mistake.

I climbed the beaten path with an elongated stride. I am victorious. The room is mine.

She is waiting for me, sitting perfectly still on the edge of MY bed.

"They want to see you immediately," I tell her.

"Please inform the persons responsible for my luggage that I may or may-not be staying here," she asks, in a dismissive tone.

"Certainly," I assure her.

She turns to exit and misses the distinct, wink of my eye and the flip of my middle finger. I will tell no one, that's for certain. "Good riddance," I whisper.

Directly across from my room, is another room. Curiosity gets the best of me and I gingerly guide the tips of my fingers to the cusp of the nob and turn it. It is unlocked. Ever so slowly, I open the door and peak in.

This unoccupied room also has two single beds, two dressers, two lamps, one fan, and one sink. We are even.

A stack of exactly 10 waxed, Dixie cups form a silo in the center of a two drawer, cedar dresser that evenly divides the room. I wonder who decides how many cups to deal out. Is this a single occupancy stack of waxed Dixie cups or a double? Regardless, I will not drink my cheap wine from a waxed, Dixie cup. That, I cannot, will not, do.

Down the hallway from the adjacent bedrooms are two additional, closet sized rooms - one on the left and the other on the right. The left room has a toilet. And a window. And it is open.  The right room has a shower. And a window. And it closed. It's a good thing that its closed because the screen behind it is busted. The closed window show-casses a multitude of curled dead insects - burly black spiders, daddy longlegs, bee's, and ants.

Just outside the window, beyond the badly weathered back side of the cabin, are lush woodlands bustling with the sounds of rustling leaves, queer chirps, and lyrical whistles.

I'll bathe in my bedroom sink, I think.

Organic, vegan meals are served, buffet style, in the main dining hall from 6:00 to 7:15 pm. I am hungry but that gurgling sound is eclipsed by my worry of her return. And so, I suck straight from my bottle of slightly chilled chardonnay, and I wait.

After a comfortable amount of time passes, and the warmth of a wine buzz is achieved, I exit my room.

Dinner for me, is always the same - a heaping salad topped with feta cheese, hard boiled eggs and a dollop of hummus.

Class begins at 8:00 pm sharp.

"Please don't be in my class. Please, please, please don't be in my class," I chant as I climb the hillside from the dining hall to my classroom. What are the odds that this bitch of an almost roommate will be in my class?

I am sweaty and winded by the time I pull on the double french doors and I blame the added weight of my backpack stuffed with my 15 inch laptop, collapsable umbrella, flash light, bug spray, makeup bag, wallet, and water bottle.

I pick a comfortable spot in the back of the room and immediately recognize a familiar face - a women I met over two years ago while attending another writing workshop at Omega. I sprint towards here, stop short of hugging her, fearful she'll detect my lack of confidence.

The class begins.

I am captivated by the level of talent in this room. Acclaimed writers, actors, painters, storytellers, with their eyes wide and their minds pointed at me.

At first I am convinced I don't belong here but all that wilts away when my fellow writers - students sitting in the same chairs as me - share their work.

They write about what haunts them, what propels them, what they gnaw on in the lonely hours of a sleepless night. They cry. I cry. They laugh, we all laugh.

What surprises me the most is that I do not compare. I am not jealous. This is not a competion. This is so freeing. "We each have a unique story to tell," says Malachy McCourt. And I believe him.

By Saturday night I am half-way through my second bottle of luke warm chardonnay. I write late into the night without feeling lonely.

I've passed my almost roommate once or twice along the hillside that leads towards the cabins but we've both managed to look the other way.

I've never seen her in the dining hall. I'm convinced she doesn't eat. That would explain her sleek physique.

When Sunday morning comes, I wrestle the courage to read my short, 3 minute memoir to my classmates and teachers.

"Do it, just do it. Do what scares you Mom," my son, Kerry guides me from his all knowing place. I hear his words as clearly as if he were standing right beside me.

I stuff my backpack with the usual essentials, then decide my nerves demand one more bathroom break.

I enter the closet sized bathroom with a book from my new, favorite author - Andre Dubus. I flip the pages without reading a word and fantasize about his rugged good looks.


photo courtesy of On Writing

His head-shot does not do him justice. Not since the late 80's has a man wearing Levi's and cowboy boots, caught my fancy. I wonder about his hair - his full head of wavy, wet-look, chestnut brown, hair. Does he color it? I don't think so. Does he work out? Absofuckinglutely. His upper torso is broad and firm. I'm guessing there are 6 pack abs hiding under that baby blue, prima cotton, button down shirt. I can't believe he's my age. I bet his wife is blonde. He's electric - his words, his bravado, the way he commands a room. Even so, I miss half of what he's saying. I am focused on the hook of his thumbs in the front band of his well fitted, Levi's. Over and over again, I count his 8 dangling fingers - dangling right in front of where his male appendage hides. I strain to find an outline. Is he a left handed writer or a right handed writer?

I am startled by the unbolting sound of a now, wide open, bathroom door.

It is her. It is HER!!!

My almost roommate, dressed in a too-tight tank top and I-know-my-ass-looks-great-in-these-yoga pants, is glaring down at me in utter disgust.

"Close the door!" I shout. 

"Lock the door!" she retorts.

I manage to leave my embarrassment behind when I take the podium and read my 3 minute memoir - a story about the delicate circumstances surrounding my almost roommate.


"I think I did outrageous things so that I'd have something to write about," said Malachy McCourt at the closing of the Memoir Festival.

I think peculiar things happen to me so that I will have something to write about.

Either way, there is a delicious story brewing inside of me. And I am eager to begin.


Views: 220

Comment by JMac1949 Today on December 31, 2012 at 11:03am

Very well excellent portrayal.  R&L

Comment by Joan H on December 31, 2012 at 11:05am
I just discovered your writing today. I like it. Looking forward to more...
Comment by TG DE VORE on December 31, 2012 at 3:07pm

Of course Joan liked it but I I I , Loved it! And you photos are really fun. What is the event and setting?

Comment by DaisyJane on December 31, 2012 at 4:56pm

love it.  i didnt know malachy teaches at omega.  he is charming as hell, isnt he?  i call him malachy, like he is my old friend, but really i have just seen him read several times,  with frank and then with frank and michael.  and because of how they are, i feel i am on first-name basis.  i asked him at one reading what is a fong, cause remember in angelas ashes they are forever threatening a fong in the arse?  he said its a kick.

sounds like a nice time, green.

Comment by Green Monkey on January 1, 2013 at 2:31pm

yes, Malachy is so charming. He and Alphie were there with their wives.  Very approachable and very real people. That's funny about "fong" I don't remember that from the book which is especially odd because "fong" was my last name for 7 years (second husband). It's also my daughters last name.  Malachy read a short story from his book "A monk swimming" and I laughed so hard I wet my pants (TMI for sure). It was a great way to spend a weekend. 

A lot of my photo's are from Burning Man. I've been attending for the last 10 years. It takes place outside of Gerlach, Nevada - in a barren wasteland that we refer to as "black rock city" :) 

Comment by Arthur James on September 12, 2013 at 7:41pm


I'll see if You and Con C. can get fixed up?

Great. The italics didn't stay stuck on ` gin.

I think a editor or two Here is a gin drunk?

Who hangs out in New Jersey Turnpokes

latrines? Whoever deletes might be a

Motorcyclist who eats cupcakes in

bathroom cubicles on Valentine

Day and New Years Day. Gosh

Comment by Arthur James on September 27, 2013 at 7:12pm


I saw You at the Last Post I Read:


Here is something else You might enjoy.

You sound as if You and Jake are happy.

I was at Omega for a writers workshop.

Maxine Hong Kingston was enjoyable.


Clinton awarded her a Humanities

Award. My Eldest son and I went

To the White House. It seems

They let any scruff in that Place.

Comment by Arthur James on January 8, 2014 at 7:55am
Comment by Arthur James on January 8, 2014 at 7:55am
Comment by Arthur James on January 8, 2014 at 7:55am


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