Continent of Kisses

A kiss can be a comma, a question mark or an exclamation point.  That’s basic spelling that every woman ought to know.

~ Mistinguett (Jeanne Bourgeois)

Go ahead, slap some more pejorative labels on my culture. We, North Americans, have been known to promote obesity, drugs, alcohol, violence, imperialism, slavery, colonialism, war, and–kissing. You heard me, kissing! How fantastic is it that, despite all of our numerous transgressions, we are recognized as the culture that developed kissing? That we have been a fertile continent of Eskimo kisses, air kisses, butterfly kisses, kisses of peace, friendly kisses, cultural kisses, parental kisses and the all familiar romantic kiss!

There’s just something about the term itself that makes me smile. No, I was not thinking about Gene Simmons (sorry Gene). Being half Italian, kissing is in my genes. But I’ve found that I’ve had to restrain myself, on more than one occasion, so as not to make non-kissers uncomfortable. If you’re reading this and I intimidated you by a PDA, I apologize. I’m working on it. But what if what the world needs now is love and–a kiss?

For you skeptics, try it and let me know how it goes. You don’t have to begin like the French do with a left cheek kiss, right cheek kiss and then another left cheek kiss. Start small. Kiss your wife’s hand. Give your baby an Eskimo kiss. You might feel awkward at first but press on. You can do it. Let’s start a kissing revolution. One that involves thirty-four facial muscles and one hundred and twelve postural muscles. If we kiss more, who knows what could happen? World peace? Global empathy? Less violence? More love? I’m in, are you?

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Dear Karl,

 

 

 

Dear Karl,

I must admit, to the dismay of some of my friends, that I like some of your ideas. I’m not pleased about one aspect of your personal life involving rumors of your relationship with Helene and fathering a child with her (when you already have a wife and seven kids).  Should the allegations be true, you are thoughtless and vulgar. But, I digress . . . .

Your fetishism of commodities is brilliant. Love it. Human labor as objectified–amazing.  I also admire your concern for the rights of the oppressed and downtrodden during the time you spent in London. Children should not be chimney sweeps shoved headfirst to clean out the soot and muck. They should not work in pottery mills breathing hazardous dust that kills them at young ages. Thanks to you, Engels, and your contributions to the dialogue concerning child labor abuses, child labor laws were finally enacted. While enforcement wasn’t carried out well or much, it was a step in the right direction.

Your theories regarding dialetical materialism, a whole other matter, Karl. Your belief that “the ideal is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind, and translated into forms of thought” (Marx, Das Kapital, Vol. 1.) is nutty and I must disagree. I’m leaning towards Hegel on this one.

I can agree with you that the bourgeoisie, a more elite population with power, privilege, and prestige, controls the means of production. I also concur that within capitalism, a certain level of greed propels the system and can spiral out of control. However, this is where I leave your Communist Manifesto on the shelf.

Capitalism is dialectic to a degree. It is filled with contradictions–I will give you that. But your belief that capitalism in an economic downturn means that an end is near, seems to have been proven false (at least with the U.S.). The system bounces back. If it does not, we will speak more about this matter.

Furthermore, you say that a revolt against capitalism is needed because it is most likely the only way a society will move away from it. You’re probably correct about this, too.  Many of us, who are capitalists, will not wave white flags and lay down.

Your hope that socialism will ultimately result in communism is interesting to mull over but your concept of communism, as a stateless, classless, societal system is bizarre. I must inquire, really, Karl? Even you must admit you have no idea how this system will make it off your paper and be implemented. That’s why so many of your followers cannot agree on this matter and bicker about it to this day.

Karl, you also seem to neglect the reality that many countries who have tried to adopt your model have failed, repeatedly. Not only have they failed, they have flopped. In the flopping, what was supposed to be a stateless society, ended up being overridden by the government and a chosen few. Economies tanked and stagnated. Human rights were violated.

Sorry, Marx. It was a darn good try. I admire your zeal and prolific writings on these matters but, in the end, many of your texts are just interesting reads.

It’s true capitalism has its flaws–every system does. Changes could be made for the better. We have to deal with monopolies, outsourcing, modern-day slavery, imperialistic snobbery, and much more. But I’m sticking with it and will try to be a positive agent for social reform. So here’s to change, maybe a direct democracy? There are many other types of democracy to try. Why not? In the meantime, Karl, get some rest.

Regards,

Pamela

Autumn’s Spell

Today is one of those beautiful, fall SoFlo days that causes me to spout poetry like October by Frost or To Autumn by Keats. Every since I was a small girl, I was enthralled by the autumn sea breezes turned windy that mussed my hair and toyed with my dress’s hem.

As an adult, when I see the wind blustering through the arecas, the first thought skipping through my mind is whether or not my allergies are going to attack my sinuses and mess with my lungs. But then, memory, that all important muse, prods me into romanticizing fall like I did when I was a child and I am under autumn’s spell once more (armed with Clarinex).

So I can relive those milkweed moments from years ago when I spotted the pods opening and the tiny seedlings with fluff rising like nature’s balloons into the air. I can celebrate the first periwinkle morning glory that graces the fence. I can feel connected to that little blonde haired girl obsessed with growing things, stooping down to get a closer view of the green acorns, rubbing sage between her fingers and smelling it’s savory perfume–I can just be.

Euphotic Zone

full frontal no sidelong
peep or half obscured
glance that strains my
eyes want you close
centered no mirrored
reflection or portrait on
the wall just a clear
view bold strong
blue my eyes
riveted won’t turn
away futile to resist
you finger my
soul call me I will
come and never
leave your salty embrace

         ©  Pamela A. Rossow

Dry Ice

bleak winter days take it out of the
freezer lay it on the counter to
thaw icicled moment frostbitten
tucked away years ago behind Green
Giant sweet peas and vacuum
sealed chicken breasts a memory frozen
solid melting pooling tiny rivulets
dripping onto tiled floor a remembrance
room temperature growing hotter
reach out touch feel its warmth the
grainy velvet beneath entwined feet
late afternoon fading sunlight
splintering rough blistered boards
salty air cooling orange creamsicle
sun slipping down on her black-blue
bed sea’s musings reaching for
her shore gentle music soothing two
needy engulfed in a white mineral laced
embrace repelling shadows flitting
flirting near lovers spotted out in opaque
depths far from turquoise shallows
discreet distance nestles between
hands no longer touching not groping
scorched pull back grab aluminum
foil oven mitts wrap it toss
it back into the frigid depths

© Pamela Rossow

The Haunting

October breathes reflection for me. There’s a supernatural quality to this particular month that evokes sentimental remembrances. Whether it’s because of the changes reflected in nature that strip life down to its bare, autumnal branches, I’m not sure. What I am certain of is the fluctuating nature of life.

Have you ever been haunted?  Truly chilled by specters in the form of uncanny experiences that won’t let you forget past loves or childhood’s embrace? To stand in a particular space and sense a gauzy veil has lifted and you can feel, see and almost touch your past, your joys, your sorrows?

These spirits persist in fingering our souls with their icy bittersweet hands. They haunt us, disguised as filmy apparitions of people who caressed our lives so that, while time unmercifully shoves us forward, our memories, our subconscious, resuscitates them, breathes life into them, and clothes them with skin, flesh, and bones.

So when people cross our paths who remind us of these persons in our pasts, we feel the coolness of shadows. In the shadows, a darkness which briefly flits across our hearts and is the complete opposite of warmth and sunlit freedom and meadows.

These phantoms reach and clutch and we rarely escape unscathed. Our minds, in an effort to deal with the mausoleum of preserved memories, try to wrap themselves around the mysterious and cannot make sense of it. It’s too evasive–too mettlesome to grapple.

We press forward and eventually break away from their grasps. Time, once more, fills our lives with flurries of work, bills, and children. We forget–until the next haunting.

Falling into Autumn

Regardless of my native Floridian status, autumn is my favorite season. It’s true I’m deciduous leaf challenged and have yet to be so engrossed at looking up at a canopy of crimson that autumn sticks out her leg and down I go.

Yet, I do fall into autumn’s subtleties in other ways. Autumn in South Florida means many things like the traditional scents of the season, such as simmering mulled cider and pumpkin pies cooling on wire racks (in ninety degree plus weather).

But it’s much more than the fragrances of ginger, cloves and cinnamon wafting through the air. It’s sunlight that deepens from lemon zest to golden hues. It’s a sky, not desolate and bleak, but blue as salt water taffy pulled and stretched. It’s lower humidity that doesn’t smother one’s lungs like a scratchy, woolen blanket. It’s briny breezes that strengthen into whipping winds which bully our palm trees. It’s Chrysanthemums, my favorite fall flower, that greet my neighbors who stroll up to my door. It’s the sea, with kicked up waves, pounding the shore and leaving her treasures behind on the sand. It’s a harvest moon rise hauntingly reminiscent of our state fruit. 

While someday I hope to view a wide expanse of scarlet maples and canary birches, I must content myself, pumpkin latte in hand, with appreciating my hometown clothed in the fall’s misty dress.

Blame Barbie

Hooves pound the earth. A determined prince rides into view atop an elegant snowy horse. Galloping towards the stone turret that imprisons his beloved, he calls out that he will save her. Her face lights up when she realizes he does love her. He grabs hold of the nearest ivy and deftly hoists himself up the cobbled wall all the while bestowing upon her adulations. Wait a minute, wrong time period!

Romance, according to Ray Bradbury, is the notion that anything is possible. Why do we, as women, still maintain romantic ideologies that are as old as medieval times? Could it be that our childhoods saturated with Disney in the beguiling forms of Cinderella, Snow White, and Bell are to blame? Maybe it’s Ken, who swept our Barbies off their feet and drove them away in sports cars, who we should point our fingers at. Whoever, or whatever the main culprit is, one thing is certain, women have become disillusioned and disenfranchised.

It’s not like we single women really believe Prince Charming will saddle the horse securely, hoist himself up, put his feet in the stirrups, coax the horse to move, jump over hurdles, arrive on time (with genteel manners), and communicate feelings! Most of us have experienced shock and awe when men have picked up their phones and called instead of texted to ask us out.

This modern experience of defining romance and gender roles has confused and bewildered many of us. So, instead of expending energy searching for the elusive “Mr. Right” (and after living for many years with “Mr. Wrong”), we appreciate our considerate, male friends, step out our lives’ boxes, and try something new.

We apply Bradbury’s definition of romance in a creative manner to our lives, one that doesn’t necessitate a rock on a ring finger or a BF. A definition that doesn’t require us to get up on our horses and multi-task financial concerns with single parenting all while actively pursuing men we find interesting. Instead, some of us define romance like Bradbury does.

We recognize we’re “not looking,” take literature classes, and discover feminine protagonists, such as Lauren Olamina, who kicked butt and took names. And, while deep down inside of us, we might secretly long for men to sweep us off our feet and make us swoon, we can appreciate our lives for what they are and where they are. That way, when we do meet those men someday and, because we have shaped strong, feminine identities, we’ll see them as men who complement us, not merely as princes who complete us. And maybe we will be able to live happily ever after.

The Empty Grave

Dear friends:

 Easter morning is a special one.  Not just because it is a beautiful soflo day.  Not because of the Easter basket with my name on it filled with dark chocolate (and yes, I do love chocolate).  It’s more than this.  Goes a little deeper.  For the last few years, there have been many, many days where I have struggled to maintain belief in God.There have been temper tantrums and angry comments directed heavenward.  Numerous questions gone unanswered and instead of replies, silence.  This whole experience has been a new one for me.  Years of faith, grace, and belief preceded these last difficult years…and for those of you yet to experience them, dark nights can stretch into weeks, weeks can stretch into months, and months can stretched into years.  However, I’m not one to lie down and quietly take it for the team.  So, while despair has tried repeatedly to shove its way into heart, I boot it out.  When depression hovers threatening to engulf me, I reach out and grab hold of dear, strong hands that have helped me tread water and won’t let me drown.

In the midst of all this, I have wondered where God is.  If He is omniscient, all powerful, and all loving, how can he allow innocent children to be abused and neglected?  How can He watch as families splinter and fall apart?  How can He permit hundreds of thousands of people to die from lack of food and access to clean water?  Anyone who has known me well is aware of my tendency from early childhood to ask, “why.”  These “whys” have persisted into adulthood and hardly a day passes in which I do not utter that interrogative at least once.  What I do know, with great certainty, is that there are often no good answers.  Life can be a hell of a lot of climbing with very few “reaching the summit” experiences.  In fact, some of us have been camping out in the valley for years.  But, on a morning such as this one, centuries ago, something either incredibly disturbing or astoundingly amazing happened.  There is no gray area.  If Christ isn’t God and He did not rise from the dead as attested to in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, then what a morbid hoax.  If Jesus Christ IS the son of God and He was crucified, died, and rose, then it’s truly mind blowing.  As for me, I’m still in a “dark night era.”  I’ll continue to have days, possibly weeks, maybe even months or years where I do not see the hand of God at work in my life or around me.  Yet, Blaise Pascal is a philosophy friend who spoke a lot of wisdom.

“God is, or He is not.” But to which side shall we incline? Reason can decide nothing here. There is an infinite chaos which separated us. A game is being played at the extremity of this infinite distance where heads or tails will turn up… Which will you choose then? Let us see. Since you must choose, let us see which interests you least. You have two things to lose, the true and the good; and two things to stake, your reason and your will, your knowledge and your happiness; and your nature has two things to shun, error and misery. Your reason is no more shocked in choosing one rather than the other, since you must of necessity choose… But your happiness? Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is… If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is.

So, I’m wagering He exists.  That Christ rose from the dead, left the tomb, and revealed his resurrected self to a bunch of women.  Sound crazy?  On some level, yes.  Plausible?  I think so.  Again, what do I have to lose?  Life?  We’re all going to die anyway.  My sanity?  Some people would argue it’s questionable all ready.  So, here’s to celebrating an empty grave.  This is my Easter.  There will be bunnies, baskets, and breaking bread with people I love.  But there’s also contemplation, meditation, and inspiration when I “virtually” peer into that deserted tomb with the women.  And there’s hope.  Lots and lots of it.  So much that it that it couldn’t remain wrapped up in linens.  It had to leave and head out into the world .

Happy Easter to my Christian friends.  And for those of you who are close to my heart and think today is incredibly disturbing, shalom.  And for you who are teetering on the tightrope between belief and disbelief, reach out.  You’ll be surprised at the strength of the hands that will help you.

Sincerely,

Pamela

Passionate Penchants

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