Water, Dirty Panties & Finding The Words


Tomorrow I head to Houston. As a result, I can’t seem to sleep. The fuse burns at both ends. This will of course come in handy when its wheels up at 6 am. I have the tasks to complete before departure, the list for day one, wheels down, and the subsequent list for the rest of the week with the many appointments necessary to deconstruct the first floor of all its belongings after my parents house flooded from a broken pipe 10 days ago. 

My sister and her husband are taking the brunt of it, dealing with the contractors, plumbers and adjusters—the ones who call five minutes before they are supposed to be there and cancel after she has driven an hour to meet them. Fun times. 

My mother said, The Calvary is coming! 

Who’s that?

YOU!, she laughed!

It’s all hands on deck this week. We will tear it apart together, and reassemble it into a temporary space our parents can move around in, while repairs are made. The rugs have been sent to the cleaners, the carpets and mattress thrown out, as well as a dozen pairs of shoes, and anything hanging on a low rack in their closets. 

Now the old hardwood furniture needs their drawers and spaces to be emptied of their contents, preparing for their departure to the craftsman who will gently rub the stained rings off their legs and panels.

Water, the source of life, is also a cunning opponent. 

“A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence.” 

Our greatest gift has the strength to become our biggest liability.

So it goes. (Kurt Vonnegut)


Yesterday a friend recalled an unusual experience he and his wife had encountered checking into a hotel room. I really wanted this story to take place in New Jersey, where all good stories begin, but it begins in Lubbock, TX. 

In Texas, when asked where Lubbock, or Odessa, or Midland is, we use the technical term: “really far away,” sweeping our arm, our pointer finger stretched west,  like a laser might shoot out of it at any moment, pointing to “somewhere over there.”

When they opened the closet to their room, they found a black skirt and a white shirt hanging, and a bra and panties on the floor. The undergarments looked freshly worn as opposed to fresh. They couldn’t help but wonder who the woman was. Did she walk out of the hotel naked? Was she folded into a duffel bag and thrown out with the trash?

I said we had a somewhat similar experience in Manassas. Feeling the top shelf of the closet, I felt something soft and pulled it down for closer inspection: a pair of panties. Being a woman, I didn’t get past more than the fact the owner of said panties voluntarily chose these cheap, white and nylon ones above all others, and she was about a size 10. Cleanliness wasn’t even a factor for contemplation, as I quickly realised I now had bigger fish to fry: the questionable state of the bedding linens we would be wrapping ourselves in later. The hidden treasure had erased any confidence we had entering the room.

But I’ve seen a lot worse. 

Also “somewhere” in TX, there was the hotel with shag carpet, no bathroom door, and the squishy bathroom floor. It was dry on top, at least until the first shower, then it was no longer dry above or below the vinyl.

There was the hotel in the forests of Georgia next to the highway, also with shag carpet thirty years past its prime. I slept on the floor in a sleeping bag and gave the only bed to my sister and her boyfriend. I woke up to something crawling on me. Panicking (always a good plan), I shook it off, jumping out of my bag and dancing around to get everything off, like I had walked into a swarm of bees. I woke my companions, who turned on the bedside lamp. Sure enough, two scorpions were trolling around on the floor doing whatever scorpions do. 

Jesus wept. (Bible)

That was their last night in Georgia.

Or anywhere else…

Question: What is your worst hotel horror story?? Please share!


Beautiful or sharp, simple or visceral, words matter.

We all owe death a life. (Salman Rushdie)

All children, except one, grow up. (J.M. Barrie)

All this happened, more or less. (Kurt Vonnegut)

I’m pretty much fucked. (Andy Weir)

Call me Ishmael. (Herman Melville)

You better not never tell nobody but God. (Alice Walker)

It might be lonelier, without the loneliness. ( Emily Dickinson)

What are men to rocks and mountains? (Jane Austen)

And then later in the darkness:  (Cormac McCarthy)

[The Boy:] Can I ask you something?

[The Man:] Yes. Of course you can.

[The Boy:] What would you do if I died?

[The Man:] If you died I would want to die too.

[The Boy:] So you could be with me?

[The Man:] Yes. So I could be with you.

[The Boy:] Okay.

There are some things that are so unforgivable that they make other things easily forgivable. (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)

He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.  (Rafael Sabatini)

Dear God, she prayed, let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. (Betty Smith)

A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing, and leaves the sleeper where he lay down, but I wish you to know that you inspired it. (Charles Dickens)

And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good. (John Steinbeck) 

America, I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing. (Allen Ginsburg)

In spite of everything, I still believe people are really good at heart. (Anne Frank)

I would always rather be happy than dignified. (Charlotte Brontë) 

Somewhere you made a choice. All followed to this. (Cormac McCarthy)

Mr. Twit was a twit. He was born a twit. And, now at the age of sixty, he was a bigger twit than ever. (Roald Dahl)

People complain about the bad things that happen to em that they don’t deserve but they seldom mention the good. About what they done to deserve them things. (Cormac McCarthy)

I would not like them here or there. I would not like them anywhere. (Dr Seuss)

We thought we had such problems. How were we to know we were happy? (Margaret Attwood)

One must be careful of books, and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us. (Cassandra Clare)

The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning. (Mark Twain)



It’s like you get me.

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