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Expedition ship – the Ocean Endeavor…off shore…in distance

 

I didn’t think I would ever be a cruise kind of person, but then this Newfoundland Circumnavigation expedition cruise came up on my radar. I had this idea that cruising is only on ships that are floating cities and where you eat and drink yourself silly. When I learned about Adventure Canada, I simply had to think again…

I spent two weeks at the beginning of October sailing counterclockwise around Newfoundland aboard the Nassau registered ship, Ocean Endeavour, with the expedition team from Adventure Canada.

There were about 180 or so “guests” plus about thirty staff on board the ship. It was big enough to be comfortable, but small enough that you could make good friends. The food was excellent, often local, and the expedition adventures were superbly planned.

Every morning, we’d wake up at a new port of call. We’d dress for the (usually beautiful) weather and get to shore via zodiacs. There were outdoor activities for every fitness level. Hiking was popular, but there was also kayaking, mountain biking, diving, painting and drawing. Expedition experts were along from all the academic fields you could think of. Biology, archaeology, geology, photography, anthropology…
There were also two Newfoundland authors and an authority on Canada’s national parks.

And to top it all off, there were musicians. Singer, songwriter and cultural expert Tony Oxford; Gerry Strong, flute and whistle player; and the amazing Alan Doyle, former lead singer with the internationally renowned Newfoundland band, Great Big Sea. We had no choice but to be happily immersed in the culture of Newfoundland.

By the end of two weeks, most of us wished we had been born and raised on this gorgeous island where humour and unique turns of phrase come off the tongue like the ever-present waterfalls over the rocks above every town.

We visited twelve places during our circumnavigation, many of them off the usual tourist track. There were UNESCO world heritage sites such as Red Bay and L’Anse Aux Meadows, where we learned about Basque whalers and Norse settlers occupying these shores.

We visited famous lighthouses, remote fiords, and an indigenous community. At Gros Morne, we even walked on brown rusting rocks from the uplifted earth’s mantle that provided evidence for Tectonic Plate theory.

We visited ‘outports’ (some of the oldest European settlements in Canada) where whole communities were having to choose whether to stay or to leave, life having been so tenuous and difficult since the cod fishery was banned in 1992.

This was an adventure where you found you’d received more than double what you’d expected. It was travel that was active, engaging and above all, meaningful. Not what you think a cruise would be, not at all.

I came away with a greater understanding of the challenges of living and surviving on a rocky island in the north Atlantic Ocean, the most easterly place in all of North America. It made us all appreciative and thoughtful about this beautiful place, affectionately called The Rock by those who call it home.

 

 

Prisoners of Hate, The Cognitive Basis of Anger, Hostility and Violence by Aaron T. Beck, M.D. (1999)

Researched and written in the late 1990’s by a leading psychiatrist this is a tightly woven look into cognitive therapy and is quite relevant today…more so with the “dazzling technological advances of our era.” These “advances (in technology) are paralleled with the savagery of the Dark Ages.”

The author looks at self-abuse, child abuse and domestic violence including rape, murder, genocide and war and then peers into their roots which in many cases are quite deep.

Questions arise in the reader’s mind: how do we individually and collectively process information? This work peers into the effects and nature of social isolation, hostility, egocentrism, mistaken judgments, misinterpretation of remarks as a result of bad experiences, unprocessed impulses, anger, violence and more – through empirical observation, studies and research using the cognitive approach.

The author’s research suggests that, “aggressive, manipulative people generally believe that their entitlements and rights override others.” He then provides detailed examples in dealing with these people.

He goes on to state that “the tendency to over interpret situations in terms of our frame of reference is an expression of an egocentric perspective.” He reviews the rational approach to the issues of violence, hostility, destructive behavior and anger. Beck outlines  the cognitive therapeutic approach to managing anger, hostility and violence. Being a rational and reasoning human being requires effort, skills and focus (one’s own feelings, hurt and anger and how those feelings are processed). The challenge of the work is applying the methods suggested by the author to the those who are viewed as offenders – the people leading a country into wars and setting up the conditions for a genocide to take place. Reasoning is not an easy task when the “other” sees itself as reasonable. The author tackles the issues through the use of negotiators using the cognitive model on a national and international level.

Beck also early on in the text, offers insight into the behavioral sequence: loss and fear leads to distress which in turn leads to a shift of focus to the offender and a feeling of anger. Permissive attitudes towards violence only accentuates the violence. He examines individual and group narcissism, egocentricity and the processes involved.

The cycle of violence, hostility and anger can be broken he argues and demonstrates the process in which the cycle can be broken.

This remains a thought-provoking work in cognitive therapy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What follows are a few closing thoughts of our guest columnist, Mary Bryant. Mary remains an inspiration and a gift for her family, the lives she has touched and for us at NP Journal. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I lay on the bed watching the doctor’s lips move. He utters words like chemo and radiation…like oncologist and palliative care…liver and bile ducts and cirrhosis…and malignant. Phrases like…you are not a good candidate for surgery.

More words and signs on another doctor’s office door…like infusion area…words like hematologist…and a shelf full of hand knitted hats you can take…holding hands and prayers…all slip by into the recesses of my brain which remains alive and grasping for a different reality while the fragrances of life diminish…thoughts of flowers…I won’t be able to see them later…why not share them now?

Words like Hospice care and…

Support system…way stations to the final breath…others who care, stand and sit nearby…one’s impending death has a singular meaning.

Please no morphine! Isn’t medical marijuana legal here?

Words that I never needed before. Now they drift in the air before me. Just out of my reach.

New appliances have invaded my space as my mind visits the roads I have traveled in life.

Shower stool and grab bars and cane and walker and wheel chair and ramps.

There must be some mistake. What other Ms. Bryant can be in the waiting room? Apparently none.

Words like treatment options, none of which sound good or hopeful. Invasive and noninvasive. Advance directive and living will. The pain increases. My heart pounds. Breathe.

Tears from my daughter and son and sisters…and my own, burning my cheeks as they flow down my face.

I’m not angry….it’s just my brain feels alive and wanting…but, hope slips quietly out of the room…eyes gaze in my direction…they share stories as my thoughts return to the highways I have journeyed…and focus on the positive voices, smiles and laughter I have encountered…along the way.

Words enter my space again…it’s okay. Let go. My body drifts.

Wait! My mind feels so alive.

There must be some mistake.

 

Larousse Gastronomique  The World’s Greatest Culinary Encyclopedia  Completely Revised and Updated (2000 and 2009)

A cultural and political perspective – my modest experience suggests that when you’re sitting at a table with international guests the language of discretion and pleasure would seem obvious like the food you are being served and the cooking required to create a sensory and conversational awareness. The Gastronomique serves the appetite with digestible aplomb without being linguistically gluttonous or hoggish. (I own the 2000 English Edition and perused the 2009 Edition at a public library.)

The culinary accent of this thick, monumental work of love on food and cookery is, as the title suggests, French, and I would add, in a world-class by itself.  I’m a novice when it comes to the French language but steeped in the politics and culture of French food and especially, red wine. Though the word gastronomy possesses an expansive cuisine perception, I have found French portions refined, diverse, delicate and tasteful.

I regularly consult the Gastronomique when  I seek a depth of understanding and explanation of food and cooking, though I’m a pescatarian and have to date,  the luxury of being able to survive on fish and vegetables. That noted, the work leaves little to chance when exploring the world of food and cooking everything imaginable. The entries “describe produce, ingredients, techniques and methods, traditions and, where appropriate, innovations.”

The recipes have a cultural and political quality with a long history of refinement. There are reasons people eat what they eat and today the corporate world does have influence in the politics of personal and public taste.

Interestingly, the first Medieval cookbook was written in French in the 14th Century CE and served as a standard work for reference throughout Europe.

This is the world of food, cooking and diversity at its most formidable level, with photos that whet the appetite – a superlative encyclopedia and an excellent reference tool on your cookbook shelf, or stop by your library.

 

NPJ Author

 

 

Author

 

 

 

 

Author taking a break before a change – somewhere in the Appalachian mountains on a rainy day… listening to water cascade over boulders, smelling the fragrance of the wet forest…return to a seashore and then to a city…compelled to write….

 

Is a getaway car really a getaway car, if no one notices you and the car got away?

 

Dreamwork Summit

What if you could access all the wisdom you need for living a happier, healthier, more fulfilling life… from your nighttime dreams?
Imagine if your dreamtime could provide you with the necessary insights to integrate your soul’s deep knowledge and create the life you desire.
Well… it actually does.
Paying attention to your dreams and deciphering the messages living in the images, symbols, characters, and landscapes that appear can be a magical experience. And today, anyone can practice dreamwork… and reap its many benefits.
Dreamwork can help you gain insights into how to heal an illness, mend a difficult relationship, jumpstart a creative project, or make a big life decision.
This is why I’m excited to invite you to join The Dreamwork Summit where a global gathering of leading dreamwork experts, renowned psychology professionals, and inspiring authors – including Robert Moss, Jean Shinoda-Bolen, Sandra Ingerman, Lynne McTaggart, Grace Cheptu, Grandmother Flordemayo, Toko-pa Turner, and me – will be sharing a unique variety of dreamwork approaches and ways to open to your inner guidance.
Join us to discover how you can access the soul-guided wisdom, healing power, and creative inspiration emerging nightly in your dreams!

The Dreamwork Summit
November 13-16, 2018

Your dreams can give you a glimpse into your future — helping you better navigate what lies ahead. Some dreamers find themselves visiting other realms – even past or parallel lives – in their dreams.
This powerful event will feature 20+ leading teachers in the first-ever Dreamwork Summit, who will guide you in transforming your relationship to your dreams (and to yourself) – as well as help you to heal, enliven, and expand your life.
I hope you’ll participate in this special online gathering presented by The Shift Network.
RSVP here for The Dreamwork Summit – at no charge.
During this groundbreaking four-day event, you’ll discover:
  • How important, easy, and fun it is to keep a dream journal, and the amazing healing & life-fulfilling insights this simple practice can bring
  • That clues about a yet-to-be discovered health challenge can show up in dreams… and ways to work with them to help yourself heal
  • Somatic approaches to dreamwork that look to the body and our feelings for interpretation, healing & transformation
  • Dream yoga, a form of lucid dreaming that allows you to practice a skill you’d like to improve while you’re sleeping
  • How you can courageously face and work with nightmares, which can actually be in service to your healing & growth
  • Possibilities for healing & forgiveness when you’re visited by deceased loved ones in your dreams
  • The magic and power in accessing and illuminating your mythic imagination sourced from the world of dreams, myths & archetypes
…and much more!
By looking to your dreams for guidance, healing, and inspiration, you open to a higher source of knowledge… to wisdom aligned with your Soul.
And by learning how to bring this wisdom out into the light of day through dreamwork, you’re empowered to live a happier, healthier, more creative and fulfilling life.
I hope you’ll join this first-ever online gathering presented by The Shift Network.
RSVP here for The Dreamwork Summit – at no charge.
P.S. Here are some more highlights from this revelatory summit:
  • How the ancient practice of shamanism views dreams, and ways you can experience shamanic dreaming
  • Dreams as inspiration for bringing your creative self forward
  • Ways that dreams can show you the future to help you better navigate your life
  • The potency inherent in symbols and images and how they can help you discover new insights about yourself to heal & transform
  • Collective dreams and how they can help validate our connection to ALL & promote profound healing

Join us here! RSVP here for The Dreamwork Summit – at no charge

 

Image for Writings

Credit: Jean Philippe-Cypres, photographer

 

Being pro-life on the surface promises

a sensitive and courageous philosophical posture

to be translated into a compassionate, humane act;

Yet, the textures possess burdensome queries

with the potential of tragic, collateral effects.

 

Does the posture become lost in the hypocrisy of translation

for isn’t pro-life more than being – pro-birth,

doesn’t it also mean to be

against capital punishment and murder,

what of war…which is a legalized version of ending a life,

and to resist unstable minds wishing to do battle

for the sake of power and greed…

does pro-life entail offering health care for everyone

and equal opportunity for all

along with breathable air and drinkable water,

should pro-life be interpreted as

loving and treating your neighbor

as you would do to yourself?

 

What are the downstream implications

for a person who is raped,

or an already disabled fetus within the mother’s womb

or…

perhaps

saving a mother’s life at the expense of another…

what are the compassionate options?

 

Does a legislator have the moral and legal right to legislate

what a woman does with her vagina

and should a man’s penis be under similar scrutiny

rather than having a double standard,

for isn’t Intent a mental desire to act in a certain manner?

Should a woman’s health and her doctor’s professional advice

be as relevant

as the politics of a politician seeking office?

 

Does a man have the right to grab a woman

Or a woman to grab a man

without her or his consent?

And should a male or female who wish to copulate

have a choice in condom or mesh

or to wear a chastity device or cock cage

while their partners hold the keys?

 

Should people be better sex educated

beginning as a child

to open the doors of the human mind

and allow the brain to see what’s at stake  –

for bearing, nurturing and supporting a child

has a human cost beyond economics

in a world where knowledge and empathy are starving,

and brutal words

create a vacancy in conscience

and the violent thought and act

fills the void.

 

 

 

The male population is what we read about when we view what’s going on in ‘The war on drugs and the war on crime,’ we are learning it is more of a war on minorities and women.

Did you know that women are filling up our jail cells? Did you know that most of the women behind bars are mothers? Did you know that most of these women are single parents, having sole responsibility for their children? Minority women are affected by this – war.

It’s a war on women, that we are beginning to recognize that is not only unfair and unjust but that also sets limits on these same women, these same sole providers from being able to apply for help within the system, in both welfare, child support and drug treatment programs.

Women are one of the fastest-growing segments of the prison population. From 1970 to 2015, the number of women in prison grew by approximately 1,000 percent. That is a tragic statistic. And although the U.S. accounts for 5 percent of the world’s female population, it also represents 30 percent of women imprisoned. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics there are 8,500 women in federal prisons on drug charges, 24,700 in state prisons and 27,000 in local jails. Sixty three percent of these women have not been convicted.

Source:Bureau of Justice Statistics.6 Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2016.

Mothers of minor children make up 60 per cent of women in prison. Two-thirds of these parents are incarcerated for non-violent offenses, an increasing proportion of which are drug law violations. More than 5 million children (one in every 14) have a parent who is or has been incarcerated. The racial disparities seen in the incarcerated population replicate themselves among the children who remain behind: by 2008, one in nine (11.4 percent of) black children, one in 28 (3.5 percent of) Latino children and one in 57 (1.8 percent of) white children had an incarcerated parent.

Eighty four percent of parents in federal prison and 62 percent of parents in state prison are housed 100 miles or more from their children. Pregnant women who are incarcerated for drug law violations, often do not receive prenatal care. Children are routinely separated from their imprisoned mothers, causing irreparable damage to the child.

Sources: Bureau of Justice Statistics.18 1 Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Female prisoners under State or Federal jurisdiction,” Corrections Statistical Analysis Tool, www.bjs.gov. Aleks Kajstura and Russ Immarigeon, “States of Women’s Incarceration: The Global Context,” (Prison Policy Initiative, 2015) http://www.prisonpolicy.org/global/women/. Ibid. 4 Carson, “Prisoners in 2015,” Table 9. 5 Prison Policy Initiative, “Women’s Incarceration: The Whole Pie ]2017” https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2017women.html, Source: Western and Pettit, Pew Charitable Trusts, 2010.

Prisons and jails commonly use restraints (handcuffs and shackles) on women in labor and during delivery, regardless of their histories. According to a 2015 shadow report to the United Nations Committee on Torture, “Only 18 states have legislation in place that restricts the use of restraints on pregnant inmates, 24 states limit the use of restraints on pregnant inmates only through institutional policies, and 8 states do not have any form of regulation at all.” Washington DC and the Federal Bureau of Prisons have also banned or restricted this practice, which the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists opposes because it puts “the health of the woman and fetus at risk.”

The long-lasting penalties and exclusions that follow a drug conviction have created a permanent second-class status for millions of Americans, who are often banned from voting, getting a job, securing a student loan and accessing housing or other forms of public assistance, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

A 2013 report found that more than 180,000 women were affected in the twelve states that maintain a full lifetime ban for people with drug convictions. Due to the extreme racial disparities in drug law enforcement and sentencing, these collateral consequences disproportionately affect women of color.

Our society still today has a limited understanding of the inequality that women truly suffer, regardless of the #metoo movement. It is as important to educate the public to speak up with courage and conviction about the injustices and social stigmas inflicted upon all women.

Addendum: America’s Other Family – Separation Crisis 

 

 

 


Consultant: Good evening. As I can see by your credentials and query letter, you’re a well-educated, articulate, experienced, thoughtful, very busy and consequently, literary network-impaired author, looking for a pre-agent literary consultant to aid you in finding the right literary agent, who will graciously consider reviewing your work, and if she or he finds it marketable, while knowing personal and public tastes are subjective, help you find a publisher, who in turn, upon acceptance of your work, will electronically and/or print publish and market your book at their expense. 

Author: Needless to say.

 

 

REMEMBER US?

We might be your mothers, your fathers, your grandparents……but it is we, who hold the reign of the “baby boomers”…..we were the generation, who never was going to get old.

We were educated, street wise, we wanted change, we fought for it – no different from our ancestors. We are still here, some of us. We challenged, we fought for a woman’s right to choose, we fought for racial equality, we fought in a war that was wrong, we fought for our brothers and our sisters to come home, and some did, many did not. We fought against the system and we challenged “The Man”.

“The Man” is no different now than 40 yrs ago. We were tear gassed, beaten with clubs, busted for unknown reasons, and in response to our rights to peaceful demonstration we were ostracized, no different from now. We were fearless warriors………….then came the drugs……..heroin. In the caskets of the unknown soldiers, and the wounds of those that survived.

And then what happened????

In 1974 president Richard Nixon declared a war on drugs…….he declared a war on our children, my children & yours.

Some of us went off to be “corporate America,” sucked in part by the whole cocaine explosion. “Cocaine” was a number 1 hit song in the US, by Eric Clapton and it ruled Wall Street, where large numbers of our educated compadre ventured. It was a socially accepted drug for the elite and anyone else that wanted to feel that rush. And what a rush………you were a King or a Queen…Studio 54, Andy Warhol, and that whole gamut of celebrity rose.

Meanwhile, there were those of us who survived, those of us that had life to preserve, those of us that never lost faith, we worked the underground.

Two years ago, Richard Branson announced that United Nations was to take a different stance on marijuana/cannabis/weed……..the war on drugs…… there never was a war on drugs, just a war on civilization. We will prevail………maybe. Our rallies are calm, our children are peaceful.

Our grandchildren are knowledgeable, and we have some educators that have not given up, we believe that our children and their children can make a change.

The facts?  Cannabis cures…………..contrary to conjectures of prosecutors, like Governor Chris Christie……….and  like those who have private interest holdings in the prison & rehab system.

Studies show, studies have proof…………….so, let me ask this question, one more time……….are you revolutionary enough yet?

Do you care enough yet? Do you or someone you know with an illness that can benefit from the medicinal qualities of a plant that heals to make you care, to make you demand, to make the statement – end prohibition?

Vote! It’s called democracy.

 

 

The Prehistory of the Mind by Steven Mithen  (1996)

The cognitive origins of art, religion and science.

This work is about the evolutionary process. The author demonstrates how the human mind is a product of human evolution not a supernatural creation. I would add, it includes the ability to be inspired and to inspire. The author, an archaeologist, displays his passion and scholarship in this study.

“The human mind is an intangible, an abstraction. In spite of more than a century of systematic study by psychologists and philosophers, it eludes definition and adequate description, let alone explanation.” So the author begins.

The mind has evolved over millions of years. What is the relationship between the brain and the mind? What caused spurts in development and growth of language, intelligence, cultural explosions, of the religious, artistic and scientific mind?

An intriguing study, though at times, naturally academic, the theme is the process –  the developing architecture of the human mind from hard wiring to patterns of behavior offers insights on how the human mind evolved. (For more information on consequences there are others one might consult…Steven Pinker is one of several.)

The author probes and seeks to understand relationships in the development of the human mind.

The author also steps back, examines the past, from a scientific perspective, the evolution and growth of the brain, including the multiple intelligences of the “early human mind,” the origins of art and religion, science and agriculture and sets the stage for what we experience now as the “modern mind.”

The primitive mind of “Hunter Gathers, whether Early or Modern Humans…were natural historians.”  Memory is key to the adaptability and progress of the human mind. Knowledge of the animals and plants around aided early humans to survive. “Natural history intelligence…evolved, at least, 1.8 million years ago.”

The author examines the archaeological evidence and the interrelations with social, cultural, artistic, religious and scientific behavior and how an event effected another. The more knowledge acquired, the more information transmitted. He looks at increasing cognitive fluidity – the process of the developing mind into “generalized type of intelligence” and “specialized type of intelligence.” The meanings of which perhaps are yet to be fully appreciated.  One piece of knowledge opens the door to another aspect of knowledge.  (See works of Colin Renfrew.)

This is a worthwhile, provocative, accessible study examining the prehistory of the human mind.

 

Credit: NASA, Climate Change/Express

 

 

Gender Ambiguity in the Workplace: Transgender and Gender-Diverse Discrimination by Alison Fogarty, Lily Zheng (2018)

My read: What is the difference between sex and gender? The authors note that sex refers to the biological aspects or differences in a human being including genetics and genitalia whereas gender focuses on how a person identifies her or himself, their roles and self-expression.

Ambiguity is an insightful take on what occurs when a baby is assigned a biological and genetic identity that is in conflict with the person’s gender identity. Intolerance and prejudice are linked when any individual opposes the gender identity of another human being based on preconceived cultural, political and social notions of what a male or female is supposed “to be” in terms of behavior, as a result of their genitalia. “You are a biological male, so act and dress like a biological male,” as if there is a set of rules written in stone on how males or females are expected to dress and behave, let alone “biological definitions” of male and female as determined by a physician at birth. When not conforming to learned expectations, violent behavior and abuse may result, and indeed has so across the country.  Insecurity and fear are woven into the fabric of intolerance.

This fascinating study delves into the psychology of our biological and gender identity in the workplace and associated discrimination. The research is original and extensive and numerous examples from transgender people offer a very human aspect to the challenges they face in today’s work environment. The authors talk about “doing ambiguity” and implementing genderless and gender-fluid dynamics in the workplace.

This is both an individual and, an organizational workbook. The book is written for “leaders seeking best practices related to bathroom access, workplace transition, hiring practices, inclusive workplace culture, and more, this book offers guidance and novel policy recommendations designed to ensure the success of transgender employees.”

If an organization wishes to explore a gender-fluid policy this work is a good starting point. The authors have offered though-provoking and discerning insights not only in gender ambiguity but what tolerant, open-minded, human and humane means. Do to others as you would have them do to you, is an ageless lesson.

My question for the future is – will programmable, human-like AI or Artificial Intelligence help us become more tolerant or exacerbate human tolerance/intolerance through software defining what is a human male or female and the roles the male/female identify with? The question comes with any number of assumptions. My suggestion is this study helps expand awareness of what we mean by human and the difference between our biology and our gender identity.

 

Image for Writings

Credit: Jean Philippe-Cypres, photographer

 

It really matters not where the embrace took place, only that it did. Perhaps it was just a chimera, a spiritual mist left over from a previous engagement in the narthex of my mind. Or was it hope misplaced.

Hope can be a singular, optimistic, on the edge, dangling noun, if such a thing exists. Almost like hanging from a creaking tree limb, while noticing the ground is an unnerving, thirty feet below, or more precisely, betting on a card that you have yet to turn over at a Blackjack table with a stack of chips at stake.

Of late, the facts of a given day appear as an illusion. A surreal quality even with the television, satellite radio and computer turned off. The heart feels love, hurt, loss and gain. Memories recalled are filtered through time’s experienced passageways and the realization I have my suppositions, whether I want them or not. As I recall, a truth is generally based on a fact. I thought about it while noticing a woman in a short, black dress standing on the other side of the table looking at me, as if she knew who I was. I detected a smile in her large brown eyes.

I’ve come to realize that years vanish, as if certain moments never existed, even when I look in the rearview mirror to catch a fleeting glimpse of the passing scene and by then it’s gone. It’s not the same, the second time around. Detour ahead, my brain suggests. Chance and random occur unannounced even on a digital roadmap. Things happen outside my view and plotting is an impish game for the manipulative mind seeking its oasis of wealth and control. Is being a maverick also an illusion of a destiny?

As I sat at the Blackjack table an hour felt like two-minutes and cards flashed by my eyes like old black and white photographs from an unfamiliar past. Adult faces, flushed with excitement, affixed to heads and situated atop bodies clothed in tuxedos,  sport coats, slacks, jeans, high heels, boots, low-cut dresses and short skirts. Furtive glances around the table, Blackjack is played with cards; whereas with poker it seems you play the other person more often than not. What are the odds, is a favorite cliché.

The dealer asked me if I wanted a hit. I nodded. Nineteen was the total, two short, of twenty-one, when I felt a hand touch my shoulder. I looked up.

“Have we met on another occasion?” The  brunette in the short, black dress, asked me with a French accent.

“Perhaps.”  I said. I thought she looked vaguely familiar. Or, was the mere question a suggestive imprinting in my head?

She flirted and asked, “I’m getting a glass of wine, would you like one?

I returned the grin and said, “Thanks, red wine?”

“I know.”  She said with confidence.

“Hmm.” Where did I meet her before?

I was ready to move on. As I walked away from the table I counted fifty dollars in chips more than I lost. In a casino you win, if you break even. Entertainment comes in many forms even for people sitting in wheel chairs and on breathing machines or dressed in tattered rags with bruises on their arms and legs playing the slot machines. Hope is a dangling noun.

I started for the lounge when just outside the entrance the woman greeted me with a glass of wine in hand, and asked,  “Lucky?”

“Yeah. Thanks for asking.”

“You’re welcome.”

Our conversation was polite and suggestive. We found a small table in the lounge, sipped our wine and chatted about life. We never talked about the past, we were only in the present moment. I couldn’t figure out where we may have met before, if ever. Nor did she give a hint. When we finished our drinks we stood up, embraced and kissed each other. She kissed me as if we had shared a mysterious, intimate past, and then said, “adieu” and noted she was heading to Montreal.

I stood alone for a few seconds watching her leave when she turned and looked back at me. I’m certain my face portrayed my mind’s bewilderment.

“Perhaps,” she said above a whisper. And with that enigmatic pronouncement she smiled and walked out the door and disappeared into the night.

 

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