Findings, Musings and the Bag We Drag Behind Us


I carry a small spiral notepad and a pen with me at all times. Over the years, I have filled many pages with random notations, scribbled down in bad handwriting, since  I tend to record information quickly lest I forget it. I stow these notebooks in a basket on top of a bookshelf. Each time I complete a new one, I add it to the basket.

This morning, I opened the basket and thumbed through several of them. On the pages, I found not only recorded personal reflections, interesting words to remember, books to read, passing observations, lists, musings and recipes, but overheard conversations, too.

Like this one.

Overheard on a Southwest flight out of Vegas:

Guy #1: “Here’s a picture of my kid. He’s awesome, don’t get me wrong, but a real clingy two year-old, ya know? It’s cause I’m hardly ever there.”

Takes another picture from his wallet and shows it to Guy #2.

Guy #2: “Hey, you  married up!”

Guy #1: That’s right, dude. I upgraded. Traded in all my coupons for this one.”

Guy #2 returns the photo. Stretches and groans. “That was a big luncheon. Get all the hunkers out of your teeth?”

*  *  *

Overheard in an East Hampton gallery:

“Don’t operate heavy machinery while speaking to him.”


Overheard in random places in L.A.:

“God didn’t create Hitler. He created man and said, hey, you’re on your own.”

“Then we went to a Russian McDonalds. Beautiful! Two stories high. I bought him French fries. He never had them. They are very poor. They only eat bread and cabbage and whatever.”

“You were in labor…and I slept with your man.”


Overheard at the Four Seasons Chevron station in Tehachapi, CA:

“We went to Divorce Court and the judge wiped away his tears with my checkbook.”


Memorable Quotes:  

“A friend is someone who will help you move.  A good friend is someone who will help you move a body.”  (Anon.)

“There are daggers in men’s smiles.”  (Macbeth)

 “I felt the wind in the wing of madness.” (title of a Cy Twomby painting appropriated from Baudelaire)

“Everyone who tells you how to act has whiskey on their breath.”  (John Updike)

“In a strange room, you must empty yourself for sleep.”  (Faulkner, As I Lay Dying)

“A portrait is a picture where something is wrong with the mouth.”  (artist John Singer Sargeant)

“You’re like Virgil to my Dante.”  (unknown)


On the menu at Chico’s Mexican Food, Barstow, CA:

APPETIZERS: Liquified Guacamole (dispensed from a plastic squeeze bottle)

EATS: Buches; Tripitas; Milanesa; Lomo; Pata; Cabeza; Mojo Potatoes; Foul tasting Burrito

SOFT DRINKS: Horchata; Tamarindo; Jamaica


Sign hanging outside the Cactus Bar in Salome, AZ (Rt. 60):



Not sure what language this is (Farsi?):

“Cheh khabar?”  (What’s new?)

“Hichee.”   (Not much.)


Read on a placard at the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, CA: 

Shiva’s wife, Parvati, who was very lovely, collected the divine dirt from her own body while bathing and created a little boy with it — she asked the child to guard the door of her dressing room and not let anyone in. Shiva tried to enter the door and saw Ganesha [the little boy] guarding the door. He didn’t know Ganesha was his son and so he cut off the boy’s head.

Parvati was overcome with grief. Shiva ordered his dwarf companions to bring back the nearest head they could find. They first creature they encountered was an elephant. Shiva placed the head of the elephant on Ganesha’s body, breathed life into him and welcomed him into the family.



From some Writers:

Hunter S. Thompson would re-type Hemingway’s books so he could absorb how he composed sentences.

From Washington Irving: “There are 3 stages of Man: Youth, Middle Age, and You Haven’t Changed  A Bit.”

From Toni Morrison: “If you can’t count, they can cheat you. If you can’t read, they can beat you.”

From Nietzsche:

“Resentment is the least explored of the primary human motivations. There are certain types of people who can’t improve their own place in the world, so they devote all their time and energies to tearing down others.”  He called these people, “tarantulas.”


Me and my Violin (a “list” I’d compiled):

  • Bought my first fiddle from the “Buylines” [after I broke my engagement, I taught myself to play from an antique book on violin bowing purchased for 10 cents in a thrift shop];
  • Playing Irish jigs at the Liffey Tavern in Jackson Heights on St. Paddy’s Day [this was decades ago; IRA members were present; IRA songs were sung];
  • The Victorian print hanging on the living room wall of my childhood home [picturing three women musicians dressed in flowery gowns; one of them was out on the veranda playing the violin; as a child, I would gaze longingly at that painting, losing myself in it, and imagine myself as her];
  • Whenever my Uncle Frankie visited [he brought along his guitar along and played us “hillbilly songs;” he sang and yodeled; I must have developed my love of old time country music from him];
  • Lullaby of Birdland [??? not sure why I added this to the list — except that my father, a music-lover but not a musician by any stretch (though he yearned to be one), tried in vain to learn this song on the piano; he would pound out the first two lines of the song with two fingers for hours — driving us all crazy — and never once changing the chord; fiddle players call this practice “woodshedding” — take ye to the woodshed so we don’t have to listen to ye];
  • My fiddle lessons in Chatsworth, CA at the Bluegrass Pickin’ Parlor [filled in the many blanks in my self-learning];
  • Playing my parents favorite songs from the 1930s and 40s on the piano while they sang along [our happiest times as a family];
  • Beethoven’s Violin and Piano Sonata No. 10 in G [the 78 rpm record album my father brought home for me when I was 10 years old, which someone had thrown in the trash (the perks of working for the NYC Sanitation Dept.);  (remember those fat old records you played with a needle the width of a thumb tack?) — the beginning of my deep abiding love of classical music. Loved it so much, my father brought home 78 rpm albums of Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony and Beethoven’s Ninth…and many more].


Revelatory notes made while reading Robert Bly’s “A Little Book on the Human Shadow” (highly recommended reading – I’ve reread it many times):

Some beautiful lines from the book, by way of a preface:

“We notice that when sunlight hits the body, the body turns bright, but it throws a shadow, which is dark. The brighter the light, the darker the shadow. Each of us has some part of our personality that is hidden from us…

…Behind us we have an invisible bag, and the part of us our parents don’t like, we, to keep our parents’ love, put in the bag. By the time we go to school, our bag is quite large. Then our teachers have their say: “Good children don’t get angry over such little things.” So we take our anger and put it in the bag. By the time my brother and I were twelve in Minnesota we were known as ‘the nice Bly boys.’ Our bags were already a mile long.”

  • By the age of 7, the “bag” I dragged behind me was filling up. I tied a knot in it so I couldn’t access the hurt.
  • When was the first “deposit” made inside the bag? At birth, when the cord was wrapped around my neck and turned me blue? Or in the apartment in Bed Sty when the rat came in my crib? Or was it moving to Long Island in the middle of kindergarten and leaving all my friends behind in Brooklyn?


I’ve made only a slight “dent” in reading my stack of notebooks…but going backward, before going forward, may be a wise way to start the New Year.

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