finding flow with feng shui

Feng what?

Feng shui. Pronounced feng shway. The ancient Chinese art and science of spaces and places for things. A complex and complicated study indeed, in simplest terms, feng shui incorporates all compass directions (i.e., north, northwest, northeast, south, southwest, southeast and so on) with the five natural elements: earth, fire, water, wood and metal.

Feng shui begins with overlaying a bagua (ba-gwa) map, easily found online, upon your residence, with the front doors the starting point.

The bagua is basically a color chart with nine sections / sectors. Each section correlates with a life area:

South – Fame & recognition
Southwest – Relationships
West – Joy, Creativity & Children
Northwest – Mentors, Teachers & Benefactors
North – Career
Northeast – Learning & Knowledge
East – Family & Ancestors
Southwest – Wealth

Moreover, each sector resonates with a particular color, one of the aforementioned natural elements (i.e., water, wood, fire, etc.) and material (i.e., ceramic, metals, glass, fabrics, paper, stone, etc.)

Feng shui is about as complicated and layered as astrology. Even a bare-bones introduction is beyond the scope of a blog post; neither is it the intent of this post.

The purpose of feng shui is to create balance, harmony and flow in one’s life. To invite and nurture chi (life force) by working harmoniously with nature’s directional and elemental energies and the energies of objects we choose to place in our homes.

As a brief aside, the biggest inhibitor of flow is clutter. It’s the first thing that a feng shui practitioner would instruct a client. Get rid of clutter. Release it. Only then can we move to the second stage: creating harmony and flow within the home.

As yet another aside, on a personal note, I am an anti-clutter nazi. My tolerance for stuff unneeded or unused is minuscule to zero; ditto for disorder, aka messes. I’m also a neat freak, which seems beside the point in feng shui, with its emphasis on types of objects and their placement in a home. But it’s not. Cleaniness = serenity.

Don’t believe? Here’s an example.

Two restaurants. You walk into one. It’s dirty. The floors are haven’t been mopped in days. The tabletops, sticky, trashcans overflowing. Paper napkins, straw wrappers litter the floors and booths. Chairs are haphazardly set around the room, a few maybe knocked over.

Restaurant 2. The floors shine. Countertops and tabletops too. No used wrappers, plates, cups, napkins lying anywhere. Trash is contained and out of sight in their bins. Chairs are set in orderly fashion around their tables.

Which place is inviting? Which place promotes relaxation while eating? Which place makes you gag and lose your appetite just being there? Where do you choose to eat?

Now, even for the most unaware, environmental influences and conditions affect the unconscious. In my case, I’m uber, nee freakisly, aware of and sensitive to the environment. I’ve seen plenty of gross conditions in homes. I’ve cleaned those homes in the absence of career work and needing money.

And because I’m extremely detail-oriented (nothing gets by me!) and a Master of Meticulous, when I clean, I clean in places that most people aren’t even aware of! They don’t even see! How that happens is beyond me but there it is.

Point is, in terms of feng shui, I’m already halfway there simply by my nature of being extraordinarily sensitive to spaces and places, highly intuitive, clean, tidy and organized. No feng shui consultant ever needs to tell me to de-clutter, organize and clean to move a residence toward harmony! I’m already there!

Now, there is a point to these shares. I’m a natural candidate for feng shui studies and implementations (though admittedly they’ll never be the great passion that astrology is).

Along that vein and given the particular configuration and energies of my current residence, feng shui-ing this place tops my To-Do List.

It hasn’t been easy. There are flaws with this place. Areas in detriment (hideous dated 1970s wood paneling, areas that are dark and receive no light or circulation) and areas that sparkle (by the windows), a less-than-ideal, to put it mildly, placement of the bathroom (in the southeast corner of wealth, uggg).

I’ve been working to feng shui this residence pretty much since I moved in three months ago. The process has been waylaid, nee overtaken, by serious and continuous problems with the extremely noisy and inconsiderate neighbors above. Hopefully based on an encounter with one of the neighbors last weekend, these problems will peter out.

In the meantime, I march onward in my feng shui project.

And a project it has been! In actuality, I’ve done quite a bit already toward uplifting the energies here. For example, I’ve taken care of that hideous wood paneling, the biggest wall in the apartment that shouted UGLY when you walked in!! Living with it, even worse!!

It’s quite the accomplishment what I’ve done with that paneled wall within tight lease constraints and on a shoestring budget! My McGywver and inner artist once again rise to the occasion! Perhaps I’ll post on that project one day. I’m sure it could benefit someone else facing Fugly Walls!

Anyways, my attention is now turned to wall number 2. A large cinder-block painted light cream Wall of Bland. It’s overwhelming in its blandness, suffocating even.

Cinder block presents a whole other level of challenge in a home. You can’t just tap-tap-tap a nail and hang art and suddenly have a home! As I’m doing throughout the residence, I’m incorporating feng shui at every turn. It’s been a learning process for sure and a fun one as I do looove to learn and I love to learn about subjects unconventional and spiritual and novel.

(Nothing about me is conventional and never will be! Just ask my mother! She’ll tell you that from Day One, I marched to my own drummer!)

I’ll wrap up by saying that feng shui is not a “cure all.” It is, however, a science and art of validity and enormous depth and intrigue (and for those reasons I quite love it). By this time next month, I hope to have my residence in a good flow … with the neighbors above quiet at last … and my life moving forward within that flow that I’m bringing into this space! And that, my friend, is the ultimate goal of feng shui. Flo, flow and flow!

Flowing off now to my appointment 🙂 … toddles.

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Arizona goes dark for a day

So I’m writing this post yesterday — about this same time too, noonish — and the Internet signal dies.

What the?! Have had unpleasant issues with Cable One lately. Are they up to no good again?

So I do the whole resetting the router & modem routine. Doesn’t work.

So I get on the phone to Cable One. Wait on hold. Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. And wait some more. Then “mid wait” they fucking drop the call!

Long story short, it wasn’t Cable One’s fault. This time.

All of northern Arizona, stretching from northern Phoenix to Flagstaff, lost its Internet and telephone services (including landlines). Only Verizon phone services were unaffected.

A vandal had gone in and cut a Century Link fiber cable. A cable that supplies juices to oodles of other services. Everything from police and emergency services communications to banking and ATMs to digitized store transitions to credit-card usage and so much more were down all day.

Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to imagine the effects of dead Internet and phone services. Neither does it take that same scientist to imagine the consequences of said power outage.

Anyhow, it’s back on now. Police say they have no suspect or motive.

Well, I’ve got a few of my own! And the first person(s) I’d be looking for is (1) someone(s) with the means and tools to thoroughly slice a cable and the knowledge of WHICH one and (2) someone(s) with a grudge or hatred of Century Link (a massive Internet Service Provider).

Well, that’s a list infinitely long! Century Link is the pits. No doubt about it. So a former employee. Or a current one.

I could pen any number of scenarios. An inside job involving one or two men working together. An inside job involving a former employee paying off a current employee sharing a hate of Century Link to cut the cord.

I mean, to any true writer with a genuine understanding of people and humanity (the two are NOT mutually inclusive!), the tales of possibilities are boundless!

Anyways, I and a million others got cut off in midstream surfing yesterday; for me, that meant a blog post that didn’t get completed. Sometimes posts can be continued, “resurrected” if you will; other times no. It’s all about the flow and where the focus is.

As a final thought, although I’ve got my own ideas and hunches and speculations about where the police and Century Link should be looking to finger the culprit(s) (and I do believe more than one person is involved), I predict we’ll see scant to no follow-up publicly.

One act of vandalism. A communications outage that crossed a good half of the state, if not more.

Goes to illustrate that there’s an upside to cutting cords — i.e., family, past relationships, abusive relationships, personal habits and patterns that are no longer useful or helpful.

And there’s a downside. I hope they catch the guy(s) who did it. (And yes, I’d put $$ down that they’re males.) They’re probably laughing all the way to the proverbial bank over their heinous “prank.”

But millions of people, from banks to businesses to hospitals to emergency personnel and the people truly in need of their assistance to regular folks like you and me are not laughing.

I understand people — though god knows that’s a curse; ignorance IS bliss! Verrrrry little if anything surprises me.

That being said, I don’t get the “humor” or the mischief in slicing through a fiber cable and bringing communications to an abrupt halt across an entire state.

But I guess one man’s mischief is another man’s maliciousness.

what earplugs can’t cure, perhaps prayer can

It never stops.

I’m dubbing theirs The Apartment Renovations from Hell. They never stop. The renovations. Or the couple above in Apartment A. He especially. They’re young and active, that I know by living under them for 3 months. Now I’m beginning to wonder whether he’s ADD.

(And I am NOT one to rush or succumb to medical labeling and the ubiquitous liberal-led/PC blaming of it to describe everything from a character flaw to natural childhood rambunctioness!)

Let me tell you what living under Couple A — he especially — is like.

1. At approximately noon, she comes home from work. Her hard-soled ladies shoes clack clack clack clomp clomp clomp on the wood floors. Drawers and closets are opened and slammed shut.

Note: They have wooden floors, which amplify EVERY SOUND 1,000 times, which you know if you’ve ever lived below them. If you haven’t, you cannot understand. Plain ‘n’ simple.

2. She spends the rest of the day at home, which means intermittent reverberating heavy footsteps, sounds of furniture being dragged (cleaning? rearranging?) and other tolerable and reasonable sounds for daytime.

Could she lighten her steps? Put down throw rugs to muffle the clomping? Yes. BUT hers is an energy fairly unobtrusive. She’s very loud vocally. Last night I could hear ever word of her phone conversation and her laughs and shriekings (computer games?) are likely audible in the next building. Examples. These are mere examples from the many in 3 months.

3. At exactly 5:10, he returns from work. You can tell by his footsteps. LOUD. HEAVY. Elephant-ish. They reverberate across my ceiling and throughout my studio. Yes, they are so loud that I’ve been awakened out of a dead sleep in my bedroom — which is just on the sidelines beneath their floor plan, thank god! — with the door closed.

4. When he returns, hell breaks loose. I do not mean domestic violence. I mean let the thunderous herd begin! I swear to god, he never stops moving!

Open and slam closet and drawers. Stomp stomp stomp here. Stomp stomp stomp there. Drag heavy furniture across floors. Pound walls. Drop things. The reverberating of even a hammer falling onto a wooden floor can rattle you to your core!

The other night … Wednesday wasn’t it? … I came home at 8.30. Early for me. Often the minute he walks in is my signal to flee my apartment for the night, waiting to return until after 10-10:30 when they retire.

This particular night I came back early. Mistake. He sounded like he was scraping paint off walls! Or the finish off the wooden floor! I never could determine (and from the limited window view could see nothing) but OH THE SOUNDS. DREADFUL! Thunderous SCRAPE SCRAPE SCRAPING. Past 8:30 at night!! Then a THUNDERING move of some weighty piece of furniture from one end of their apartment to the other. Directly above me.

A bit late for heavy-duty renovations, I think.

And what I don’t get is how they can have so much still to remodel in an apartment after 3 months of living there! Good lord!! It’s not a dump! You move in! Get settled! Settle in. End of story!

Moreover, this is all taking place in an apartment with VERY STRICT LEASE CONDITIONS. I mean it. For example, no nails permitted. But if you choose to use them, you will be charged for their repair when you leave.

His constant noisy activities and stomping continue past 10 or 10:30 p.m., especially on weekends. Almost every night. For three months. And gaining.

5. Between her being there all day and the both of them at night, it’s VERY VERY VERY rare that I have a quiet moment or the place to myself. Sounds contradictory to write that. I live alone in a small studio. But truth is, I am never alone. Either one or both of them are above. Being noisy. Inducing stress. Rattling my nerves to such a high pitch that I am either (a) losing sleep / experiencing insomnia for the stress or (b) being awakened early by their stompings and remodelings. I mean, how many fucking times can you move a TV console or table or whatever else the fuck they’re moving?!?!?

6. Take this morning. After a few hours of sleep, I’m awake at 5 a.m. by stress. I try try try to get back to sleep. I work tonight past midnight. I need to be rested.

At 9:15 a.m. … CRAAAAAAAASHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

I’m jarred out of a dead sleep. The neighbors upstairs moving furniture again and it sounds like a piece fell. Like a decorative ball made outta wood or something. Whatever it was, the ruckus reverberates ACROSS MY ENTIRE CEILING from one end to the other!

Then more SCRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAPPPPPPE across the wooden floors within a marble’s throw above me. Then STOMP STOMP STOMP. Into another room. Then more SCAAAAAAAAAAAAAAPE. Another piece of furniture being moved.

IT. NEVER. ENDS!

I don’t mean that literally. Of course it ends. When they sleep. Or when they’re at work. Otherwise, there is SOME noise being produced, either intermittently in her case or constantly in his from noon to 10 p.m. and past.

Now, I ask you people who have read this far, what would you do?!

It’s rhetorical. There are many more elements in this scenario that are unwritten that make moot a sound judgment on your part.

I don’t really want any opinion or thought other than my sister’s (whom I trust and who better knows the extent of the situation).

7. Lest I forget — and were that I could! — the police have been brought to their apartment three times — the last time being several days ago (blaring their TV apparently after again rearranging it along with others furnishings & somehow all that scraping was a part).

I cannot say this emphatically enough. I DO NOT WANT TO CONTINUE IMPOSING ON OUR FINE POLICE DEPARTMENT FOR DOMESTIC DISTURBANCES.

Three police visits in three months is a lot, in my view. It does not speak to neighbors who are neighborly or considerate.

In truth, not a one of their actions in these past months speak of mindfulness of others. At. All.

The landlord is an off-site landlord with a major property management company. She’s unaware of any issue until it’s brought to her attention. She’s been informed — in the simple FYI style that she prefers — of ongoing noise issues as well as the two police visits. I’ve not yet informed her of the third and most recent one (and will, next week; since she’s been out of the office this week, I don’t want to relay the information until she’s returned & caught up on more pressing/important matters.)

After hearing of police visits, what the landlord does or doesn’t communicate to the A neighbors, I do not know and it isn’t my business. They seemed to quiet down some at night (reduced raucous partying, blasting audio) after the second visit so apparently something was said.

They quiet down for a spell and then ramp back up. It is out of control, this continuous noise and disruptiveness. Yet there is nothing that I can do personally to stop them. My only true and best course of action is to inform the authorities and let them handle it.

* * *

All said and done, my patience has been tested full-tilt. For three months I’ve lived with this and never once complained to them, banged the ceiling with a broom handle (almost always a bad move leading to retribution and worsening of the problem!). My gut tells me he is a man not to be messed with. That to speak up would be a HUGE blunder. He’d apologize and smile and shut the door and then stomp intentionally harder. Just because he could.

No. Letting the authorities handle it is the way to go. Yet my patience is stretched to a filament and my exhaustion borne of anxiety and distress from the continuous invasions of noise and disrespect they’re showing all their neighbors — there are two tenants/studios beneath their comparatively massive one — are eroding, nee destroying the pleasures of being here.

I want to emphatically express that. I LOVE where I live! This place and space! Is it forever? No. For this time of my life, it is ideal. I need to be here and WANT to be here.

The ONLY problem, the absolute thorn in the side, are the neighbors above. It’s not just their noise that eats away at me. It’s really their complete lack of consideration. Their lack of caring. Or both.

Human beings like that should not be permitted to rent in community/apartment complexes! The world would be better off if there were like dedicated spaces and the sole requirement for getting into that metaphorically gated community is: Everyone hates living around you. You are thoughtless. Inconsiderate. You care nothing about the impact of your lifestyle on others. Application completed!

Welcome to the Community of Rejects. Where the Mannerless and the Rude and the Assholes of Community Living Come to Maybe Make One Another Miserable.

Of course the single flaw in that imaginary scene is that the Arrogant and the Self-Absorbed are missing that “sensitivity chip.” (Who can not think of Jennifer Aniston on that reference now?!?) They know not the disruptions and discomforts and worse they bring to others and therefore they themselves will not feel them inflicted by others.

So even their own community of the Arrogant and the Self-Absorbed is a lost cause.

* *

Is mine? I do not know yet. My love of this place, apart from the neighbors, compels me to fight to remain here. Much will depend on what the landlord is willing and unwilling to do (in response to new information about continued noise issues and a third police visit in three months).

In the meantime — ha! what a concept, these entire three months have been a state of “in the meantime … trying to survive the streaming noises from above!” — but anyway, as I was writing …

In the meantime, I will continue to do what I’ve been doing. Praying. Praying for peace. Praying for a resolution. Praying for peace and harmony to be introduced at this property. And for mindfulness of others in a community to prevail.

Whether they go and better tenants move in … or whether they are forced to learn mindfulness by way of the landlord … or I am forced to leave, defeated and powerless to create the serene environment that I need for myself here … I cannot know. It is too early to say.

AND in the meantime, right after this, I am sitting down to create a vision board. I create them regularly and usually at a new moon (as we just had Thursday … so this vision board’s coming a little late).

It was only after being VERY rudely awakened by the neighbors this morning that I decided I’m going to do this month’s vision board after all.

Not hard to guess what it will feature! I’ve lost my grip on that proverbial end of the rope. It’s become a frayed mess anyhow — was continuing to unravel before my very ears and eyes anyways. I need a new approach. I need to find my way through this gawd-awful thicket of other people’s inconsiderations and uncarings.

I don’t know what that’s gonna look like until I sit down on the floor with my candle and calming Buddhist / Asian / Zen / meditative music and create the vision board. (I never know what a vision board will look like! That’s part of the Flow of creating one!)

I know this is a long post. I don’t expect anyone to read it in full — or at all. Since comments are few to none, I’m not believing that anyone’s reading my posts as it is! Which I suppose is “license” to write whatever the fuck you want! But that’s another topic.

This had to be written, not for any alleged reader. (I don’t blog for that reason regardless.) It had to be written: for me. For my heart. My mind. My spirit. In the depths of fatigue and exhaustion at the continued noise and mindlessness (as compared to mindfulness) of the neighbors above.

I need help and I need support from above (and from the one, maybe two or three people on earth who can truly give it).

I need to find the path that will lead me through this overgrown field of tall pointy weeds and foxtails that burrow into the clothing and painfully into the skin.

I need to find the path from these fairly tortuous — and certainly obnoxious! — “neighborly” conditions into the clearing.

As I prepare now to create my vision board, I ask for the presence of angels, guides, divine beings, loving beings, Archangel Michael, Archangel Raphael and Ganapatei to be with me. In my studio (that I’m struggling so to make into a home) and at my side. Every step of the way.

Please make your steps gentle, kind and loving. Not the thunderous ones from Apt. A above!! That’s my final request, in sincerity and levity.

Thank you.

And may all movement from this time forward be for the good of all. The peace of all. The comfort and relaxation and serenity of all. Amen.

It’s a bird! It’s a fish! It’s Supersea!

Close your eyes. Write about what you see.
February 20 prompt, “A Writer’s Book of Days”

Azure water.Golden sand. Brown sand saturated by surf. Bold yellow ball high in the sky. Sunny.

Kids shrieking in their fear and their play in the water. I stand where the water surrenders its fierce rolls into laps before disappearing into the wetted sand all together.

I advance 4 steps. My soles sink in as sand becomes like quicksand. Froth and undertow nibble and wrest for a hold of my my ankles. I stand firmly, unafraid. The water is my friend. My element.

A man floats the watery crescendos lying on his belly and paddling offsides like a dog. He’s maybe 20. A grown-up in the eyes of a 12-year-old.

An orchestra in weird harmony. Continous high-pitched shrieks and blows of shootings from kids, like horns from the whale’s blowhole, contrasting with the rhythmic roar of the ocean.

For my petite and skinny stature, I am a strong swimmer. Unusually strong even. I have no fear of the water, even now after I’ve ventured in fully. I understand the water and respect it. Even at my young age, I understand the power of water and her undertows and not to challenge them. I would lose as would most anyone.

Deeper into the ocean, the currents twist and turn and change directions abruptly. There is no policeman or traffic control beneath the surface of the water! Their willy-nilly forces tumble as they will. No man can destroy the forces of water neither should he try. He shall be defeated, ultimately, even fatally.

I plunge head first into monster waves. Well, monstrous enough. They’re not the 50-footers of Hawaii but they’re certainly big enough for fun rides. I love the science of riding the waves. Treading water, studying the wave out there as it comes closer and closer to shore. Rolling. Gaining swell. Gaining momentum. Each pull only pulling more and more for or speed and height. As if water’s imploring, “hey everyone, come along on this ride!!”

Sheer delight. As the wave forms before my very eyes, anticipation only mounts! The dynamics of waves formation are fascinating to watch! But, much as I’ve got an astute observant researcher within, it’s not the researcher who’s here to play! It’s me!

I await that moment where the base of the wave is at its maximum swell and its curve at maximum height but not yet broken into its inevitable fall. That moment where all forces converge into a stellar harmony. A symphony of the sea.

I plunge forward — a dive into glory! Head, arms, legs, feet, all given over to the wave. I let go. The wave flings me up in her forceful arc. I’m a bird in flight! Alighted atop the curve of her neck, I ride, effortlessly. Then all too quickly the flight is over. She thrusts me back to earth, speedily and in no uncertain terms! Unmerifully even! Suddenly I’m a sock in the washing machine. My eyes are shut and mouth closed to keep from gulping rushing salty water. It happens sometimes. Oh well. All in good fun!

All in the world is tempestuous churning water. That is all that is in my world! Her roar fills my ears. No sound but the apex of her symphony.

Gradually, predictably, her frothy wrath — the sea only SEEMS angry, she’s really not — subsides, unwinds, calms into the inevitable meeting at the shore. There, the wave may leave her mark as bubbly froth along the shore or vanish into grains of sand, never to be seen again.

I may gallooop out but only briefly to regain my footing, turn to face the sea and press back in over and over and over! There is no joy like the ocean and merging with her waves! Better than any ride at the fair or a carnival!

Am I an amphibian trapped in a human body?! Or part fish and part bird?! Perhaps! Kinda like the mythical phoenix who rises time and time again from the ashes of fire … only in my case the water instead of fire? Very probably!

When I close my eyes, I see the place from which I came and from which we all originated, mammals that we are. I see too the place to which I’ll return in the form of ashes, when my time on Earth is up.

I’ve no fear, only the greatest respect and regard for the water who birthed us and nourishes us still. She is my orchestra of ever-moving and seemingly clashing forces all come together in one marvelous, outrageous, divine symphony that not even Mozart could write — though he may well try!

When I close my eyes, I see the place where I began and the place where I’ll end up before I resume my astral journey in other galaxies. I see a symphony. I am at peace as the waves thunder in my ear.

Romancing the Stone — with a Twist

Open the box.

February 17 prompt, “A Writer’s Book of Days”

It’s not what she expected, Marilou.

When Sam dropped to one knee and presented a box balanced on the fingertips of two hands held aloft, her heart went a-flutter. Just like in the Danielle Steele romance novels she consumed along with her favorite munchies, bags of buttered popcorn, at her side.

A royal blue velvet case. Just like in the movies. Just the right size for an engagement ring. Or a pair of emerald earrings.

How would she disguise her disappointment if they were those instead of the ring? She’d cross that bridge if she came to it and prayed it wouldn’t.

She and Sam had been dating, what, about 2-1/2 years now. Is he in or is he out? It’s about time he make a commitment. It’s about time he got SERIOUS about their relationship. Their future.

She ruminated on these thoughts a thousand times a day.

It’s about time they both settle down. Find a house. Start a family. All those things that people do. That you’re supposed to do. That’s normal to do, she thought.

How sweet he looks there, on his knee. Totally disregarding his slacks getting soaked by the day’s early showers resting now on the street. Just like in the movies. Just like in those romance novels.

“Marilou,” he said, holding the velvety box aloft and looking her directly in the eye. “You know I love you. You know I love you like I’ve never loved anyone else. Well, except for Rascal.”

Marilou smiled. Yes, he certainly loves that big goof. A motley mutt mix of, to the best of anyone’s guesstimation, muscle-y Rhodesian ridgeback, lab and boxer. That big goof goes everywhere with him. “Surprising he’s not here with us now!” she thought.

Her future fiancé — Marilou was just about that certain that a proposal was in the works — loved that dog to death. But that’d change once they were married. She’d teach him. She’d train him to love her more. Or at least to put her first. Put her before that dang mutt.

“I’ve been trying to give this to you for a while,” Sam said from their spot on the sidewalk in front of the cafe.

The cafe where they first met. He seated at a table with a cappuccino and his head buried in a magazine. A dog magazine of all things. “Figures,” she thought in retrospect. “He’ll outgrow that, once we’re married. He’ll learn to put me and family first, once we’re married.”

Marilou cheered her good fortune at a table emptying next to the man with the magazine just as she paid for her latte. Snagged the seat. Struck up a conversation. And the rest is history. Just like in the movies. Just like in the romance novels she devoured.

“I finally got the nerve,” he said, an unmistakeable bashfulness briefly sweeping across his face. “Here, I’d like you to have this.”

“For me?!?” she cooed. She even batted her eyelashes but he didn’t notice.

Sam glowed as she received the fuzzy box. With anticipation dripping from her every pore, she took hold, prepared herself to remember this very special moment and flipped the lid. Just like in the movies. Just like in the romance novels.

She was stunned. Incredulous even. “What’s this?!”

Grinning with all the pride of a 10-year-old boy presenting his mother a bouquet of wildflowers that he himself had picked from the nearby hills, he answered gleefully.

“That’s a rock … what’s left of a rock, I should say … that Rascal chewed. Down to the nib. It’s the first rock I ever threw for him way back when he was a puppy on our first walk.

“He carried that rock around in his jowls for that entire walk! Refused to let go. Except for me to throw it. Again and again! It was like his tennis ball, ya know?”

“No, I don’t know,” Marilou glared in her mind. She feigned ignorance with a shrug.

“He carried it home, so proud, this little goof with a rock half his size. After that, he’d lie around gnawing that thing down to the bone,” he reminisced lovingly. “What a guy. I kept it all these years. Sentiment, I guess. I just love that Rascal. Now I want you to have it.”

Marilous was speechless. Well, she was receiving a rock all right. But it looked nothing like the one she envisioned or that every girl dreams of. Such was her conviction.

“Definitely not like in the movies. Not like in the romance books,” she fumed.

Her impulse was to take that gnawed-down rock and heave it mightily against the sidewalk in front of the cafe where they’d met, cracking it into a million pieces. “THAT’D show him!”

But a blip of her higher self intervened. Stopped her. And thank God because it’d would’ve broken Sam’s heart in a million ways and he’d never recover.

She snapped the lid shut. Handed the box over. Smiled and said: “Perhaps you should give this to your dog instead. You two would make a very lovely married couple.”

Then she stormed off, leaving Sam dumbfounded, speechless and immobilized still on one knee.

Funny how most things do work out in time.

Marilou and Sam each recovered from their split.

She ended up finding her perfect dream man. Of course he was nothing of the sort. Marilou never truly knew or saw him at all. With her rose-colored glasses, what she saw — and married — was the dream man straight out of the movies and romance novels.

And Sam, he came out the real winner. He and his big goof.

He and Rascal shared a true friendship. They were the best of buddies. Genuine, soulful, unconditional love both ways, fun, playful and honest. Always there for each other. Always listening to each other. Never calling each other shitty names or making hurtful judgements, accusations, false statements and all the rest of the crap that comprises most marriages.

And just for sentiment, Sam placed that box, with the lid opened to display that chewed-to-the-nib first rock that he’d thrown, the rock that had begun a bond and lifetime companionship, on his dresser.

Time to time he caressed that rock, just a little with the tip of a finger. He never thought about the bitch who’d try to sink her catty claws into him — her projected image of him as husband straight out of the movies, out of the romance novels.

He and his dog had a bond that was healthy. Full of good and replete with joy. He felt like the luckiest man alive.

He would never be boxed in by a woman and her watershed illusions or delusions.

And he would never close the box that held the rock that to him meant more than any diamond from a jewelry store — be it inside or outside of a romance novel.

a heavenly friend: the bearer of lights & keeper of secrets

Write about the night sky.

February 14 prompt, “A Writer’s Book of Days”

Neon rich in oranges, greens, blacks, yellows, reds, whites. Brighter than the North Star? No. Only seems so, the skyline of Shinjuku, Tokyo, at night.

The bustle’s undeniable. Day or night, Shinjuku never sleeps. In the daytime glare, it’s all about business. Shopping. Commerce. Eateries. Fast-food curries and sushi stops and ramen holes-in-the-walls with possibly the tastiest noodles you’ll ever have in your lifetime!

Cafes. Clothing stores. Bedding shops. The towering Kinokunyia bookstore favored by Japanese and foreigners for its significant supply of English tomes.

Not to mention the behemoth Shinjuku Station that funnels some 1.5 million people through its some 2,000 commuter, subway and long-distance trains that converge in the massive business and entertainment hub that defines western Tokyo.

By day, Shinjuku is beehive buzzing but it’s ugly. The eyesore of massive towering concrete structures can be both unappealing, even suffocating. Like in any Asian metro area, the streets are narrow and the traffic molasses on wheels.

And again like in any Asian country, it’s the alleyways that truly define a city or town. A web of chaotic twisting paths can lead either to extraordinary adventures and discoveries or massive headaches, delays and missed appointments if you’re trying to reach a destination!

I learned immediately in my Asian lifetime that the alleyways are most deceiving! From point A, go this direction and it’s sure to take you to point B. So it appears. Wrong!! Western linear thought has little place in Asia. (Which isn’t to deny or dismiss in particular Japan’s powers of logic and reasoning. And ingenuity. Not at all. Theirs is significantly more advanced than ours in the West.)

In Asia general, it’s all about abstract thought and visuals. “Walk until you see the Lawson (convenience store). Turn left. Walk until you see the raamen shop. Turn right. Go until you see the vegetable stand. Turn right and walk until you see a gray building with three windows on your left. That’s where I live.”

I miss that way of thinking, rich in abstracts and concepts, deeply and dearly.

So the sky, the sky of Shinjuku (as well as other metro centers of Japan) speaks of concrete and commerce.

At night, it screams entertainment and pleasures, the likes of which are never found in America. (Especially in our PC culture, they’d be run out of existence. For example, look what the libs are trying to do to McDonald’s for lord’s sake!!) Forbidden pleasures by our puritanical standards are the norm there. They may not be publicized or broadcast to the masses.

But ohhhhh, whatever’s your pleasure, it can be found! But you need to talk to the right people and those who know the subterranean culture that is Japan. Because you can bet your last dollar that the kinky club will be in some cave down those stairs in this building or up those stairs in that one or around some corner from some seemingly nameless hovel that you’d never know existed … until someone told you.

The night sky is rich in oranges, greens, blacks, yellows, reds, whites. The writing spread across it is kanji (the same characters of China). Sprinkled among the glyphs is the occasional English word or romaji (the modern alphabetized representations of the Japanese language). And brightly do those signs shine! Enticing passersby to come to the movies!Come to the izakaya (Japanese-style pub). Come to the cafe! Come to the clothing store.

When those regular businesses close and all that remains open is a plethora of clubs, some large but most small — some able to seat no more than 8 patrons at a time! — then that’s when the night sky burns hottest.

But those stars you won’t see in the vast sky above you. Or in the skyline. They’re tucked away in that subterranean underground — sometimes literally!

That’s how it goes there, you see. It’s not what you see that defines Japan (and Asia in general). It’s what you don’t see. Those activities and lives and goings-about, some for good and pleasure, some for ill-gotten gains and criminal activities — can anyone say yakuza (mafia) — they take place every day under the night sky of natural stars and the manmade neon stars.

Perhaps the stars, seen by but a few or a small crowd, not to be forgotten are those in the dark caves and clubs and hovels and hideouts that characterize Japan. They’re the “servers” at soap lands (where customers are ostensibly “bathed” but we all know they’re really centers of prostitution). Or the Japanese drummer pounding out “Stairway to Heaven.” Or the gaijin (foreigner) and Japanese, after two too many tokkuri (ceramic sake flasks) hanging off each other at the shoulders, crooning “Yesterday.” (The Japanese do love their Beatles!)

There’s a night sky that not everyone sees that spreads across Japan. A night sky so lush and luscious and sensual and adventurous and enticing and exciting and, yes, alive that it cannot be described or understood by most Westerners. They would judge. They would say that such places demean women. They would say that such places are morally and politically and worst of all personally offense and “damn it, I’m gonna sue and shut them down and make myself millions!”

So I leave you only with a simple thought: The night sky hold its secrets — and yours, if you reveal. Is there an absolutely trustworthy and better friend? People disappoint. They betray. They destroy trust. The night sky: never.

Some residents have no name, no closet, no chair at the table

You’re moving into a new house; write about the people or person who lived there before you.

February 13 prompt, “A Writer’s Book of Days”

When you are a child, everything seems larger than it really is, including houses.

And when you are a child, everything seems subject to imagination and mystery. The world, when you are a child, seems full of endless possibilities.

And dreams? Why, yes, of course they can come true. One doesn’t doubt the Infinite as a child, neither the Possible. Even Life itself is but a vast unmarked sea of possibilities and adventures and creations of our own making.

We do not doubt what is Unseen and Untouchable. We know it as surely as we know that there IS a man in the moon and he IS smiling upon us and that if we dig long enough with our spoons into the dirt in the yard, we WILL reach China!

That’s how it was for me anyways.

Our house is big, from a child’s perspective. Three bedrooms and all that. Plus a half-acre of yard work and upkeep that my father, cruel taskmaster that he was, ensured was completed every week by his trio of slaves, let’s call it for now, comprising me, my sister and our mother.

Aside from the very occasional shindig, a happy home it was not. The home, however, had known happiness before us.

Their name was the Sheriffs. As a girl of 6 when we moved in, I do not recall much about them; their name, however, sticks and too that the Sheriffs family included a young boy.

My mother. Now my mother, though quite an emotionally sick and dangerous woman in a good many ways, did have her positive points, including a developed sense of intuition. One might not call her psychic; however, her hunches and sensibilities of things unseen were accomplished — uncanny even. To this day, those are attributes I most fondly acknowledge and remember.

We lived in that house for about 10 years (I from age 6-16). It’s the longest that we as a family lived anywhere and that I personally have lived in my nearly 58 years.

After we’d moved (to the “evil house” in northern California — another story), my mother told me something that I’d never heard during those 10 years in the house prior, something that I’ll remember until the day I die.

Before selling their house to us, the Sheriffs, their little boy, he had leukemia. Severely, from accounts. Whether he would survive was a tremendous question mark and agonizing, as one could imagine, for the family.

The boy did make it and in time the family let go of their house. A house that, my mother knew, as I learned all those years later, was inhabited by a ghost.

My mother saw the ghost from time to time. During our residency, she never spoke of it to me or my sister (far as I know) or, dollars to donuts, my father.

But a ghost she felt and saw. A benevolent ghost, she said. One who meant no harm and never posed a threat.

When we moved to the “evil house” in northern California, the ghost did not come with, my mother said. It was never seen or felt again. My mother speculated, nee concluded, and rightly so, that the ghost was not only attached to the house we’d vacated but had played a part in healing the young boy of his illness.

As a strong medium myself, I can attest to the validity of the afterlife and of continuing existence of spirits of creatures who have passed on.

Sometimes, nee often, the person(s) who lived there before you didn’t live there at all. Not in our 3-dimensional plane anyways. Yet their presence is as real, if not more so, than ours in flesh, and too more enduring.

Sometimes the best blessing that a house can have lies not in the bottles of wine, bouquets, potted plants or friendly gatherings gifted in a housewarming party.

The best blessing lies in a being unseen to the naked eye yet fully felt in spirit and heart. A former etheric inhabitant who bestows kindness, protection, gentility and healing upon the space and me within it … in a spiritual stream of goodness that is never taken from me … never withheld … and never ending. Such beings who reside in a space before me and may or may not go with me when I vacate truly make a house a loving home.