Do-Si-Do

Grab your partner, do-si-do!

Life is a dance; whether you have two left feet or..

Not.

“Happiness is only real when shared.”
-Christopher McCandless

I highly recommend this movie (or book, if you rather) because it resonated with me on many levels. As good as your intentions are, no matter how knowledgeable you may be; life is unpredictable.

What's something you had to learn the "hard way" - but that you're happy you know now?

Not to stew in my own misery.

I had to learn that the hard way.

I had to learn to not to feed the monster.

Conflict with myself.

Internal battles.

Fight against my rational mind vs my OCD.

Every little thing bothered me.

They built up rather quick and I had to address every single one.

I took it out on everyone around me too.

Watch out.

I was always on a warpath.

Better brace yourself if you were in my way.

“Hell hath no fury like a woman [scorned].”

You’ve been warned.

Avoid being thorned.

I have not mourned..

who I was.

I have only adorned..

my progress.

It was easier to just lash out and drink myself into the bottom of a bottle.

I’m happy I recognized I needed help.

Sought it.

Fought it.

Bought it.

And thought it..

all started inside..

Me.

Feelings become thoughts.

Thoughts become words.

Words become actions.

Actions become habits.

Habits have consequences.

I learned to follow the trail.

Stop it in its tracks.

I had to be taught how to function properly..

for my own sanity.

If I didn’t enjoy my own company..

why would anybody else?

It took years of therapy, deep digging, and internal reflection to learn how to be alone.

It was scary being by myself and not hate myself every second.

Every second seemed like an hour.

I’m happy to know now that I was worth the trouble.

I deserved a second chance.

A second glance.

A second enhance.

A second romance.

Happy dance!


What are the non-negotiable traits that your [future] partner cannot have? What are the things they must have?

Narcissistic
Perfect manners
Un-stocked TP
Refuses to engage in any sort of PDA
Toxic masculinity
Poor hygiene habits
Strong hatred toward any group of people
Too political
Too religious
Two-faced
Greedy
Gym Rat
Cocky
Over-critical
Heckler
Wants a trophy wife
Gamer
Wants me to be their Mama
Has no room for compromise
Submissive
Judgmental
Alcoholic
Shopaholic

Silly sense of humor
Intelligent
Has common sense
Financially responsible
Good tipper
Gives constructive criticism
Gentle
Courteous
How they treat the wait staff
Animal lover
Likes to play board, card games
Avid reader
Confident
Has their own friends/hobbies/interests
Listen = Silent
Patient
Kind
Humble
Cryer
Does dishes
Decisive
Dominant
Not afraid to frolic
Bollocks

The traits I listed above are not for a future partner as the prompt asked because I already have a partner. We’ve been together for four years this upcoming May. Yet, it feels like a lot longer.. in a good way. In the best way, of course! I was also asked: “So, how does your partner compare to the list you wrote?”

I responded without hesitation: “If I had to dream up the ideal partner, Jaimie wouldn’t even compare. He’s more than I ever dreamed of. He set the bar high in teaching me how to be loved; thus helping me love myself.”

“Do you like hanging out with me?”
“Yeah.”

If you look closely, there’s a bird’s nest in the dinosaur’s mouth!

Sipping on wine, enjoying the view, & singing along to Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore.”

Pigeonholes

See more alleys here
What are some labels other people have given you? How well do they fit?

Organized
Stubborn
Open-minded
Attentive
Unique
Teacher’s pet
Honest
Sensitive
Bookworm
Submissive

Personable
Creative
Nerd
Dependable
Worry wart
Considerate
Different
Respectable
Outgoing
Helpful

Friendly
Expressive
Loyal
Determined
Fashionable
Easy going
Constructive
Private
Black sheep
Attention-seeker

Nurturing
Affectionate
Dyke
“Confused”
Anorexic
Funny
Assertive
Bitch
Free spirit
Insubordinate

Down to earth
Smart aleck
Approachable
Intimidating
“Life of the party”
Flirt
Anxious
Snowflake
Particular
Charitable

Ginger
Rebel
Weirdo
Contradictive
Trustworthy
Independent
Defiant
Inclusive
Good listener
Passive-aggressive

How well do these labels other people have given me.. fit?

Well, not so well.. Appearance alone, people presume I’m attention-seeking because of my mohawk and bright fashion style.

I believe I’m just expressing myself. Letting my freak flag fly so other “black sheep, weirdos, and different” people feel comfortable around me. An unspoken icebreaker. We all belong.. somewhere.

“Come sit over here next to me.”

I think if we took the time to get to know each other, we’d label each other less.

I’m not a fan of labels.

At.

All.

“Labels are for cans, not people.”

– Anthony Rapp

Soft Embrace

Someone gives you a big hug and whispers just what you needed to hear.

“You’re enough.”

“You’re worthy.”

“Because you’re worth it.” -L’Oreal.

Thank you for clipping me coupons.

“There’s that bright smile!”

“Both hands,” I always say when you try to give me a half hug..

It’s just..

Unacceptable!

It’s been awhile since I’ve had a two handed hug..

I know.

Soon.

You’re not a touchy-feely-kinda-guy and..

I get it.

You don’t want to break me.

Lose me.

Well, more hugs the better.

Maybe if we squeeze each other tight enough all of our broken pieces will stick back together.

Bring it on.

Let’s give it a go.

I welcome your hugs, half hug, two handed hugs, or any hug you wanna give me.

Time is against us.

Let’s not waste it.

I’m here.

I’m still here.

I’m your baby girl.

No matter what.

Bring it in, Big Guy.

Let’s..

Hug. It. Out.

Warning, Warning

See more alleys here
What are some "warning signs" that let you know you pushed your body &/or mind too far?

Locked knees

Strained eyes

Full bladder

Sore ankles

Greasy hair

Heavy heart

Dry, cracked skin

My patience is wearing thin

What have I gotten myself in.. to?

Same lounge wear

Dammit, a tear!

It isn’t fair

Shaky hands

Elastic waistbands

I’m in such high demand

Yet, any day, I’ll be canned

Getting lost.. in Wonderland.

Brain fart

Stumbling to speak.. my mind.

Word vomit

Tired.

Just.

Tired.

Beyond needing a rest

I’m doing my best

It’s weighing on my chest

All. Of. It.

I can’t seem to keep up.


If you had a warning label, what would yours say?

Don’t press the red..head[ed] button!

Boohoo

I used to cry to get out of trouble as a kid.

When I was scared.

When I didn’t get my way.

I would cry myself to sleep..

Because I’d be worrying..

About what happened that day..

The day before..

The next day..

Or my days in the future.

I used to say: “Well, I didn’t cry today, so it’s a good day!”

Hell, I still say that..

On my bad days.

I don’t cry at funerals.

That’s when I laugh the most..

To be honest.

I feel I have to lighten the mood.

Even though..

“It’s super inappropriate [to do so],” some say.

I cry when I get mad because I’m a lover..

Not a fighter.

And I’m terrified of jail.

Ugly crying.

Snotty crying.

Can’t breathe, can’t speak crying.

Non-stop wet tears.

Dry tears..

Because I have no more tears left to cry.

Secluded crying.

Look at yourself in the mirror crying.

Group crying.

Public crying.

It all feels the same.

It’s an emotional release.

Screaming crying.

Weeping.

Sniffling.

Not wiping your tears crying.

Short burst crying.

Too long crying.

Hiding your tears.

Hiding your fears.

Beet red ears.

Soaked in embarrassment.

Doing the walk of shame.

Shrugging it off.

Dusting it off.

Faking it.

Denying it.

The evidence is there.

Own up to it.

Audience or not.

Just let it flow.

Get it out.

Don’t bottle up your emotions.

Cry.

It.

Out.

Bottle up your tears..

And drink it.

Cheers!

Two Cents

“Don’t be so hard on yourself.”

“Don’t over-think it.”

“It’s not you, it’s them.”

But the common denominator is..

Me..

Right?

They, them..

Me, me, me, me, me..

Duh.

There I go..

Over-thinking..

Again.

“No one thinks more about you.. than you. They’re too busy thinking about.. themselves.”

I’m sure I don’t even cross their mind.

You’re right.

That’s true.

“Don’t be blue.”

“Be you.”

Be unapologetically you!

“Only say sorry with purpose and sincerity. The more the word “sorry” is thrown around, it loses its value.”

“Less is more.”

In more ways than one.

Possessions.

Circles.

Design.

Dialogue.

Partners.

Jobs.

My anxiety and depression make it difficult to follow the pieces of advice I believe in because it’s a constant internal battle.

I care too much..

About everything.

I don’t care..

About anything.

It’s like living in my own personal hell.

I am the bully and the victim.

Sprinkle in my OCD to keep things interesting.

I kick my own ass.

Knock some sense into myself.

Hey, it’s okay..

I deserve it.

“Instead of giving yourself a pep talk in a mirror. Look at a photo of yourself.. as a child.. and give her a pep talk [your best advice]. It forces you to change your tone, huh?”

Be kind to her.

She’s you.

“Be kind to yourself.”

She’s doing her best.

And so are you!

Knock, Knock

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?

[Silence]

I open the door to see the back of her head..

Walking away..

From me.

Knock, knock.

Who.

Is.

There?

[Silence]

I hate being ignored.

She’s a real piece of work.

It’s been four years since we’ve seen each other..

And spoken to one another.

I’ve seen her numerous times in between then.

I’ve tried reaching out.

All I’ve gotten is..

[Silence]

Silence..

Is..

So..

LOUD!

It’s deafening.

It hurts my ears.

It hurts my..

Heart.

What a heartless person.

It.

Just.

Hurts.

I try to see her perspective.

She may have her reasons.

She must have her reasons.

I’ve theorized quite a few.

If any/all are true..

I’ve accepted it.

I’m an only child.

Don’t even get me started on my brothers.

I’m an only child.

I’ve accepted it.

I do miss her.

Well..

I miss..

Certain parts of her.

Definitely not her..

Attitude.

Judgment.

Loose lips.

Superiority complex.

Insults.

I’d rather adjust to her absence..

Than be frustrated by her toxic presence.

My message to her that may very well forever go unanswered:

“Thank you.

Yes.

Thank.

You.

Thank you for showing me how not to be a sister.

Thank you for making room for other people..

Who have stepped up..

Who have chosen to be in my life..

They are my chosen family.

And you’re..

Missing..

Out.

Oh, well.”

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?

[Silence]

I don’t care anymore.

This piece I wrote during another Journaling Workshop virtual event hosted by The Mighty that I attended earlier this week. Again, I can’t say enough about this group. They’re such a breath full of fresh air. I enjoy their company. We let all the feelings out on the floor. As I mentioned in my last post and the post before that, I highly recommend checking out their virtual events (&/or articles, social media posts, etc).

I debated about attending this virtual event since I’ve been under the weather, but I powered through it because I knew.. I needed it. It’s one of the few things I look forward to these days. Besides, nobody there could catch my germs, even if I was contagious.. Well, maybe their computer could catch a virus or two! Haha.. I’m glad I stuck it out and joined because a good piece came out of it. Go figure, even with my irritability and fatigue. I really thought I wouldn’t be able to churn anything out.. besides.. nonsense.

I chose the above photos to complement my piece because the covered bridge represents the care I had taken to preserve our estranged relationship. To bridge the gap.. between us. I kept hope alive longer than warranted. I didn’t want to burn any bridges. I’ve decided to take the high road. The covered bridge has a plaque that reads: Hyde Road. How fitting! How punny. Hy..de Road. High road.

The covered mailboxes are taken care of too. To protect those precious messages. Each mailbox is different. Varying in size, design, color, material, condition, and even how it’s attached to the post. Some by nails, brackets, or bungee cord! Some are barely holding on by a thread. Some are enclosed. Some are open ended with no cover. How symbolic of how we, humans, are.

Every family is dysfunctional.
I have chosen to function through the dysfunction.

Every relationship takes a hiatus.
I have chosen to make the most of the time I have.. with the people who choose to be.. Present.

Self-Love

Roses are red
Violets are blue
What does self-love mean to you?


Taking a breath.

Breathing in..

Deep..

Breathing out..

Just as deep.

Taking a break.

Breaking a bad habit..

Or two.

Breaking a dish.

Breaking out in song.

Break dancing while..

Not breaking..

Any bones.

Breaking the silence.

Breaking a barrier.

All. The. Breaks.

Sitting up straight.

Eyes closed.

Concentrating on the now.

Counting.

One.

Two.

Three.

Breathing in..

And..

Out.

Thinking about..

Nothing.

Everything.

Trying to concentrate on clearing some space for the good memories..

And re-homing the not so good.

Stretch..

Focus..

On. Every. Muscle.

Roll your head clock wise..

Counter clock wise.

Where has the time gone?

It’s self-love time..

Duh.

You deserve this time.

You’re the longest relationship you’ll ever have.

Might as well take care of yourself.

Enjoy your own company.

Don’t wait for the right one..

Be the right one..

And your life will change for the better.

Brighter days are ahead for you.

You.

Are.

Worthy..

Of.

Love..

-ing..

Yourself.

Embassy Suites Hotel with lit up rooms forming a heart

This piece I wrote in light of the upcoming holiday, Valentine’s Day, during another Journaling Workshop virtual event hosted by The Mighty that I attended earlier this week. I can’t say enough about this group. They really are such a lovely bunch to hang out with! I thoroughly enjoy being amongst them. Sharing and caring with them. As I mentioned in my last post, I highly recommend checking out their virtual events (&/or articles, social media posts, etc).

There are so many different types of Love:
Affectionate, enduring, familial, romantic, playful, platonic, obsessive, selfless, empathetic, nurturing, and.. Self-love.

I think we tend to forget the last one, which I think is the most essential.

We. Are. Important. Too.

It’s vital that we take care of ourselves.. every day.. and not just on holidays. Please share what self-love means to you and how you practice self-love in the comments. I’m interested to hear from you!

[Pull the] Trigger[ing]

Hide.

Conceal.

Modify.

Shape-shift.

Transform.

Curl up.

Freeze.

Divert.

Play dumb.

Misdirect.

Just..

Compliment them!

Say anything to make them go away..

To make this..

Feeling..

Go away!

Yeah..

That’s how I feel..

Inside my head when I’m recognized for..

All the wrong reasons.

I want to blend in.

Fade into the background.

Be invisible.

Forgotten..

IT’S BEEN TEN YEARS!

I can hear my mom saying: “Aww, baby girl.. you’re meant to stand out!”

Yeah..

Sure..

Time and place is important though.

Not now.

Not then.

But when?

I don’t know.

It may never end.

I’m spent..

Yet..

Rich.

Not with quantity but with quality.

Sure..

My circle is smaller; some by choice and others..

Out.

Of.

My.

Hands..

She’s so far..

Yet..

So close to my heart.

How could I let her go..

That way?

I know..

Tough choices had to be made.

I wasn’t mad.

I’m not mad.

I understand.

That’s where the gray comes in.

I do not live in a black and white world.

Nothing is as it seems.

And everything seems as it is.

Whoa.

This is..

Deep.

Deep within.

I hide.

Not wanting to be seen..

As I am.

For who I want to be.

I am me.

An empath who lives and loves.


Hey there.. It’s been awhile. I’ve been writing.. and not publishing. “The struggle is real.” This couldn’t be more true than anything I could possibly.. make up. Feeling is a process. I think.. it’s safe to say.. that we’ve all been feeling a lot in the past year. Damn. Has it been that long? Crazy. Crazy times. Crazy world. “We’re all in this together.” Yet.. we’re separated by space, time, and.. misunderstanding. Not to bring the mood down any further.. if that was possible! Haha..

So, I’ve been writing the same blog post since May. I accidentally scheduled to post it publicly before I was ready. Before it was complete. Whoops! Haha.. I quickly changed the visibility from public to private the next day (I plan on finishing it soon). Nonetheless, I hope my readers, followers, subscribers haven’t.. forgotten me (my blog).. and haven’t given up on me (my blog). When I felt like.. giving up. So many times. Those particular feelings are less and fewer in between nowadays. Took awhile to climb out of that.. dark hole.. yet.. it still lingers.. nearby.. like an old frienemy. I wave at it as I step.. on the edge. Other times, I stick my tongue out at it, flip it off, or lunge at it.. wanting to start a fight.

The writing piece above I titled: “[Pull the] Trigger[ing]” I wrote in a group Zoom video call organized by The Mighty Facebook page. I registered for their Journaling Workshop virtual event. The host created a couple writing prompts that we could utilize in a ten minute timeframe. Two rounds. Participants could share, or not, no pressure. Some drew in lieu of writing. Some recorded their voice per dyslexia in lieu of writing and read it to the group. Felt like a safe space. I tried to attend previous virtual events they held, but I couldn’t.. I wasn’t in the right head space to make that happen. I kicked myself quite a few times. But.. last night.. I made it happen. It was nice. I stayed online with this group for hours.. even joined their “After Hours” Zoom room.

Such a diverse group of creatives. All over the country. All. Over. The. World. So refreshing. We looked and sounded so different from one another.. yet.. felt similar feelings.. when we shared our pieces. If that doesn’t shake you, wake you.. Up. I don’t know what will. Thank you to the host of The Mighty. Thank you to the participants for sharing their stories.. and thus.. helping others in the process. Helping me. I highly recommend following The Mighty Facebook page. I know I’ll be joining more virtual events in the future. Hope to see ya there, maybe!

This blog post is definitely different in regards to style; compared to the previous I’ve written. It’s not a lengthy story. It’s a short journal entry. It breaks all the “rules” I’ve created inside my head of what my blog is supposed to be about.

Speaking of breaking, I chose the above photos to complement my broken writing. A fallen tree. Root and all. We’ve all been there, am I right? The fallen tree blocks paths needed to move.. on. To move forward. Somehow. There is a solution. You can go over it, under it, around it, or.. THROUGH IT. The people affected by this fallen tree decided to solve the problem by going through it. They cut through the trunk to get out.

My original blog theme:
“A picture, photographed or graphically designed, by yours truly attached with a creative written response of a thousand-ish words. Could be a tall tale, inspired by a true experience, a random journal entry, or an analysis of the photograph or design itself! Dealer’s choice.

A random journal entry. Check.
Picture(s)/Photograph(s). Check.
Dealer’s choice. Check.

I wrote something. I accomplished something. About damn time! Haha.. Glad to be back. Hope you enjoyed this blog post. Hope you’re hanging in there. Let’s do this. This thing called.. Life.

Struck a Chord

Looking back, it could have gone either way. It didn’t work out, which makes it look like fate, or a stupid decision, or both. But at the time, I did have a few things in my favor. I had everything in my name, sole access to the vault, and a clear conscience. The ending of a business partnership is taxing: physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially. It feels just like a breakup: arguments are spat, tears are shed, and the yearning for closure. My mother warned me about the risks of running a business. I’m not looking forward to hearing her say: “I told you so.” Ugh, just save it and give me a hug. A silent hug is what I need. Maybe it’ll mend all the broken pieces inside of me and I’ll feel whole again. I’ve cut off all contact with my business partner per my lawyer’s advice. Better be worth something for three hundred dollars an hour! Jiminy Christmas!


Calliope and I first met in 1984 when we were both sixteen years old. We attended Juilliard together. We were assigned dormmates during our first year. We only had common core classes together because we were in different majors. She was a instrumentalist, specializing in cello. She knew how to play all the string instruments and then some! I was a vocalist, specializing in opera. Calliope’s dream was to be in the Philharmonic. My dream was to be on Broadway. We were both bookworms and abnormally dedicated to our studies. I mean, our folks were shelling out eighteen grand per year for our tuition, not including housing costs! We had to take it seriously. Neither of our families were rich by any means, but we weren’t poor either. Our parents worked and so did we. I was thirteen when I got my first job, at a corner market down the street from my house in Hicksville. Yes, that’s a real city, look it up! I rode my purple banana seat bicycle there every weekend. If I remember correctly, Calliope’s first job was bagging groceries at a Mom and Pop Shop in the Bronx.

Our high school and college years weren’t stereotypical such as attending pep rallies, football games, or frat parties. We went to concerts, comedy and/or improv shows, or hung out at local coffee shops for Open Mic nights. Neither of us ever drank, but we did socially Puff the Magic Dragon. We casually dated several people, but nothing serious because we’d encourage each other to take advantage of our unique experience at Juilliard. Boys were dime a dozen. Hell, you could get a guy for a nickel on 66th and Amsterdam Ave. And I don’t mean the Red-light District! Haha.. Calliope and I used to alternate hosting Game Nights, Movie Nights or Book Club meetings in our common room. Mostly because we were the only students who had large collections of board games, VHS tapes, and books! We would also have jam sessions and help each other record our own audition tapes! When we turned eighteen, Calliope became part of the Professional Apprentice Program and I became an RA. The free room and board helped cut costs when my dad became sick with Asbestosis and was put on disability. Our time was stretched thin with our new collegiate jobs and responsibilities. We were still friendly, but we gradually drifted apart towards the end of our educational careers.


As I was checking in at the front desk and putting a “Hello, My Name is” sticker name tag on my coral peplum dress; I thought about how society forces us to relive our youth by creating school reunions. What a concept. I wanna meet the person who invented this social event. Were they socially unpopular way back when? And then.. they wanted to rub their current successes in their enemies’ faces? I mean, I get it, but still.. unhealthy.

“Piper!” I heard a boisterous yet familiar voice behind me. “Piper, is that you?!”

I turned around and gasped, “Oh. My. Poseidon! Girl, you haven’t change a bit!”

“Oh, right back at ya,” Calliope squealed as she twirled me around. “Yep, still got that bubble butt!” She smacked my behind and gave me a tight squeeze.

“Oh, stop,” I blushed, swatting at her playfully. “Calliope, this is my husband, Joel. Joel, Calliope.”

“Lovely to meet you Joe,” she daintily extended her hand.

“Joel,” I corrected.

“Isn’t that what I said?” she asked, exchanging confused glances with Joel and I.

“She’s hard of hearing,” Calliope’s date chimed in. “All those loud concerts really have done her in.”

“What?” Calliope shouted, cupping her ear towards him.

“I’m Ed. Calliope’s fiancé,” he shook my hand and then Joel’s.

“Oh! Yes, this is Edwin,” Calliope re-introduced us, still shouting. “Shall we get a drink?”

We all agreed and made our way over to the open bar, which was starting to get busy. A big blue banner hung above the stage that read: “Welcome Juilliard Alumni!”

“So, what’ll ya have?” the lanky bartender asked me, placing a cocktail napkin in front of me.

“Sex on the Beach, please,” I said, strumming along to the beat playing throughout the crowded banquet hall.

“Oh, my Poseidon?” Joel asked me, raising an eyebrow.

“Yes,” I answered, rolling my eyes. “You know I don’t like to say the G-O-D word so I improvised with another deity. He may be Greek, but hey.. So am I!”

“You’re not Greek,” Joel corrected, putting his hand on my hip. “You’re Italian. Unless your 23andMe lied.”

I stuck my tongue out at him.

“Here ya go ma’am,” the bartender said, placing my pink beverage down.

“Thank you,” Joel said, placing a fiver in the tip jar. “Guess you’re in a nautical mood tonight.”

“What?” I asked, in between sips of my drink.

“Your Sex on the Beach,” Joel answered, tapping my glass. “And.. your bubble butt!” He breathed in my ear, discreetly rubbing my ass.

“Oh, right,” I giggled and snuggled his neck, we made our way over to a quiet table.

“What’ya drinking, Ed?” Joel asked.

“Oh,” Edwin fiddled with his olive sword. “Dry martini. How about you?”

“Scotch on the rocks.”

“So, what’ya do for a living, Joel?”

“I, uh, am a chef.”

“No shit? I need some cooking lessons! You teach?”

I nudged Calliope, “Looks like the boys are just fine talking amongst themselves.”

She nodded whilst sipping her red wine, “They’ve hit it off! Hey, maybe we can double date sometime!”

“Oh, for sure!” I instantly agreed, fiddling with my straw. “So, tell me,” I reached out and touched her forearm. “What have you been doing with your life for the past.. twenty years?!”

Calliope smiled, putting her hand on top of mine, “Oh, ya know, this and that!”

“No, I don’t know,” I laughed lightly. “That’s why I asked, silly!” I tilted my head, sipping my drink again.

“Well, I did get in with an orchestra after graduation. Traveled the States and a little in Canada- -“

“That’s exciting,” I interrupted, patting her forearm. “I knew you’d achieve your dream of being in the Philharmonic!”

“Thank you,” she replied, adjusting in her seat closer to me.

“So, what are you doing now? Still playing cello here in New York?”

“Oh, no, I’m a freelance music teacher.”

“Oh, fancy!” I exclaimed, holding my pinky up as I finished my drink. “You’re your own boss. Calling the shots! I can dig it.”

“Yeah,” Calliope agreed, twisting her necklace. “It has its ups and downs being self-employed.”

I straw slurped my drink dry, catching the guys’ attention for a split second. “Excuse me,” I apologized, then reverted back to Calliope. “How so?”

“Well, you gotta wear many hats: teacher, human resources, therapist, market strategist, and accountant. I’m not good with.. money.”

“Oh, I understand that,” I blinked slowly, nodding my head. “I let Joel balance the checkbook.”

“Ed is the same way,” she declared, zoning out into the crowd.

“Oh, yeah? What does he do?”

“Who?”

“Ed. Your fiancé.”

“Oh, yes, um, Ed is a retired Naval Officer.”

“You always did love a man in uniform!” I winked at her. “How did you two meet?”

Calliope looked up, trying to recall the moment. “We met about two years ago in Atlantic City. Ed was celebrating his retirement with his Naval buddies at the Golden Nugget, where I was performing- -..”

“What’s the Golden Nugget?” I interrupted again.

“It’s a hotel casino at the marina.”

“Gotcha, sorry go ahead.”

“Yeah, so we met there. He caught my eye because of- -..”

“The uniform,” we said together.

“I guess he was checking me out too because he put a large tip in my tip jar and winked at me,” she said with a sigh, reminiscing that moment. “So, I slipped him my spare hotel room key and the rest is history!”

“Girl, you didn’t waste any time!”

“You gotta test drive the car before ya buy it!”

“Too true, too true,” we clinked empty glasses. “Looks like we’re due for a refill!”

As we waited for our second round at the semi-empty bar, I updated Calliope of my short-lived, yet successful Broadway career.

“Wow, you toured with Andrea Bocelli?!” her jaw dropped. “Sounds like you achieved your dream too, huh?”

“Yeah, I suppose so. Ten years was a good run with Andrea.”

“So, how’d Joel handle you touring all over Europe without him all those years?”

“Oh, no, Joel and I met on tour. He was our gourmet chef.”

“Aw, that’s adorable! Who asked who out?”

“I worked up the courage one evening after dinner and asked him if he’d like to get some.. dessert.”

“Well, well.. Look at us, we were assertive as hell. Going after what we wanted!”

“Yeah,” I said. We laughed lightly, averting each other’s gaze. “What happened to us?”

We rejoined the conversation with our men, drank another round, and wandered onto the packed dance floor with our classmates. The end of the night turned into a blur. I blame it on having too much Sex on the Beach. At least I didn’t wake up with sand in my undies!

I did wake up in our hotel room above the reunion banquet hall. I slowly rolled over to check the time. Wow, it’s half past twelve! I had received a text from Calliope:

"Morning Pipes! How ya feeling? Hungover? Yeah, me too. Last night was so much fun! C'mon down to the café, I gotta mimosa with your name on it, and I'll pitch you my business idea over brunch! 💡 See ya soon!" 12:16pm

Hmm, business idea? I don’t recall her mentioning anything about a business idea, but.. how much do I really remember? Not much. Joel was still sleeping beside me so I left him a note by the night stand. Wonder if Edwin will be with Calliope? Guess I’ll find out when I get there and I’ll call Joel to join us, if need be.

I washed my face with cold water, wiped off my makeup from last night, rubbed on some lotion, brushed my teeth, flossed, mouth washed, rolled on some deodorant, spritzed some perfume on my neck, and slipped into some sweats. Hope the café doesn’t have a dress code because I am not in the mood to argue with a maître d’ this morning.. I mean, afternoon.

“Pipes! Pipes, over here,” Calliope shouted, waving her hand over her head. “Morning sunshine, how ya feeling?”

“Good afternoon,” I drowsily greeted. “Edwin still sleeping too?”

“Yeah, he’s more of a night owl. You know me, I’ve always been an early bird!”

“I remember,” I said, popping an Ibuprofen with a swig of ice water. Our waitress came over, I ordered an omelet with hash browns and a cinnamon roll. I noticed Calliope either already ate or was on a liquid diet. I didn’t bother to ask. She always had odd eating habits, so I brushed the invading thoughts aside.

“So, what’s this business idea you got?” I asked, sipping the mimosa Calliope ordered for me.

“Right,” she answered, shifting in her seat across from me. “You mentioned last night about how you’re craving a creative outlet since you became a stay-at-home Mom. I understand how you feel because my freelance gigs haven’t been a steady enough income. Ed has had to pick up the slack for our expenses and I don’t want to deplete his retirement or take his social security. So, I propose we.. you and I.. go into business together!”

I choked on my mimosa and dribbled all over my sweat pants. “And what would be the business?” I asked, dabbing my sweat pants with my cloth napkin.

“A music studio! We’d both teach. I’d give instrumental lessons and you’d give vocal lessons!” Calliope exclaimed, propping her elbows on the table, holding her head in her hands as if she was daydreaming about this business already.

“I- -I,” I began. “D- -don’t know, Calliope. I’d have to discuss this with Joel.”

“Oh, Joel seemed on board last night!”

“Really? What’d he say?” I asked, digging into my omelet that had just arrived. “Last night’s kinda hazy to me.”

“Joel said that you deserve to reignite your passion for music. You’ve been in a rut lately and that you miss being a contributing member of society. Not just contributing to your son, Reed, and the household. You crave to contribute more!”

“That sounds- -” I trailed off, pulling on my earlobe. “About right. Well, I still need to talk to Joel about this.”

“Of course,” Calliope agreed, swishing her mimosa glass around. “Ed’s already agreed to be an investor so there’s little to no risk, financially speaking.”

“I’ve never been a business owner or partner before. What would we call this music studio?”

“Oh, I got the perfect name,” she paused, gesturing with jazz hands. “Freshen Expression!”

“Whoa, I love the rhyme! Music is a form of expression: rhythmically and vocally- -”

“And our teaching, their learning is freshening up one’s skills,” Calliope finished my thought.

“Right! I’m in. Let’s do it!” we shook on it.


“Mommy,” Reed said, pulling on my dress. “Mommy?”

“Yes, honey?” I asked, shuffling a pile of sheet music on my desk at the music studio.

“I find jell-wee beans” Reed answered, clapping his hands in excitement. “Check it wike my Hallo-wee candy!”

“You did? Show me what ya found,” I said, following his lead as he held my hand.

“What happened, Reed? Where did you find the candy?”

“I help sweep floor ‘n I ass-identall-wee knocked ova tuba ‘n jell-wee beans falled out!”

I picked up half a dozen little baggies full of multi-colored pills.

“Gimme, gimme!” Reed squealed, jumping for his “candy.”

“Oh, no, sweetheart,” I raised them out of his reach. “I checked these jelly beans and they’re bad. Someone poisoned them. They’d make you sick.”

Reed cried, pouted, and decided to put himself in Time-Out near the other wind instruments. He turned around aggressively to yell at me some more and knocked over another tuba. More baggies spilled onto the wooden floor.

“Jell-wee beans!” Reed exclaimed, reaching for the baggies.

“Reed! No!”


“All rise for Honorable Judge Panicucci,” the Bailiff announced, booming across the courtroom.

“Let’s do this,” I muttered to myself, shaking like a leaf as I stood up.

“The court calls Mister Edwin Ripa to the bench,” the Prosecutor stated.

“I discovered the Defendant, Calliope Lotto, was not attending her weekly Gamblers Anonymous Meetings,” Edwin testified, tightening his tie. “But she was meeting with her Bookie at the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City- -..”

“Please officially state the Bookie’s name for the court,” the Prosecutor requested.

“Rufus Vizzini,” Edwin continued. “I noticed our joint bank account was overdrawn more often than not. I confronted the Defendant and she confessed to gambling away my entire retirement fund. That was the last straw, our relationship was already on the rocks, so I called off our engagement, and demanded the ring back. She pawned it..”

Ed continued and completed his testimony, then a couple witnesses gave their testimonies, and the Judge called for a short recess for lunch.

“The court calls Mrs. Piper De Luise to the bench,” the Prosecutor stated.

“Three days after I reported the drugs to the police, I was approached by the DEA to go undercover, along with the defendant’s fiancé, Edwin Ripa, to find out who her suppliers were- -..” I testified, shaking in front of the jury. I continued and told my entire side of the story.

“Thank you for your official statement, Mrs. Piper De Luise,” the Judge said, pulling on her robe. “You may step down. The jury will now deliberate and we’ll reconvene to deliver the verdict.”

I received a text from my lawyer that the jury had come to a decision and I needed to return to the court room.

“Your Honor, the members of this jury, find the defendant, Miss Calliope Lotto,” the Juror paused, making eye contact with Calliope. “Guilty on all counts of drug trafficking. The defendant is sentenced, under NY law, to twenty-five years imprisonment.”

The gallery erupted in gasps and scattered applause. Edwin and I hugged, celebrating that justice had been served. Calliope appeared to be sniffling as she was being handcuffed. She looked our way as she was being escorted out of the court room.

“Members of the Jury, this Court dismisses you and thanks you for a job well done,” the Judge said, banging her gavel.

“So, what’ll you do now?” I asked Ed, walking to the parking garage.

“I think I’ll teach,” Ed replied, showing his validation ticket to the parking vendor.

“Really?” I asked, opening my car door. “What would you teach? A Naval course on base?”

“Oh, no. My sister helped me get a job at PS 118 in St. Albans.”

“That’s nice! What’ll you teach there?”

“You know what they say: those that can’t do, teach and those that can’t teach, teach gym!”

I laughed out loud with a snort, “I have heard that!”

“We both needed a good laugh,” he chuckled in between words.

I sighed deeply, pulling out my sunglasses to mask my tears, which were a mixture of sad tears and laugh crying tears.

“My sister said they’re also looking for a new music teacher,” he said in my ear as we hugged goodbye. “I think you’d be perfect.”

“Sounds like a challenge to me,” I said with a smile. “Count me in.”