Comments Posted By Joanna Bressler

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Swaying palms, the image of Hawaii. Wahine in hula skirts swaying to ukulele music under those palms. Oh, did I mention the traffic? Hours of it. Did I mention the over-development with no compensatory increase in infrastructure? Identical dull-painted houses crammed close together, shades of gray, and much smaller apartments with tiny kitchens and bathrooms and bedrooms. Did I mention the blasted rail? Ugly concrete stretching from nowhere to nowhere, ruining ocean views, high above the flat ground when it could have run along that ground, and that rail is already swaying, and were there ever to be a train on it, the train would sway and sway and sway and then crash off the rails to earth and catch fire? Just like Joni Mitchell sang, they cut down paradise and put up a parking lot.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 01.15.2019 @ 11:26 am


The doctor explained the details (how much pain, chance of success, things that could go wrong) of the operations. The mother shifted in her chair, looking alternately alarmed, resigned, or pissed off, but always looking in much more grievous pain than the worst pain the operation would bring. The daughter, aka the patient, wasn’t listening. Her boyfriend had told her that she had to transform herself if the relationship was to work: nose job, breast implants, eyebrows lifted, permanent contact lenses inserted in the color green because the boyfriend was Irish, stomach tucked because she was too fat for his taste and, of course, vaginal beautification. At one point, the mother left the office to throw up in the Ladies Room. When she returned, the doctor looked at her sympathetically and said, “You can forbid this surgery, you know. Your daughter’s only 15 and you have legal rights over any medical treatment.” The girl said, and her voice was amazingly deep and not quite human, “I’d kill myself, Mother, and you know it. But first, I’d kill you. And you as well, Doctor.” The girl was on the operating table within the hour, the transformation took place, and the outcome was what anyone in their right mind would expect under the circumstances. Horrible.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 01.11.2019 @ 7:18 pm


She wants to qualify everything she said in the faculty meeting. Like, after what she said to the Dean of Faculty, she should have qualified it by adding, “I didn’t mean you were unethical. Never in a million years. I just meant that some person–possibly a serial klller on Death Row–would have called you unethical. And I meant to qualify it by putting in words like ‘It’s remotely possible that some killer on Death Row might have deemed you unethical, but I would never have done so, just like the rest of the faculty here–mealy-mouthed cowards all of them–immediately said they would never in a million years have called you unethical.” Then I would have added a qualification, “Not that I meant the rest of the faculty are mealy-mouthed cowards, not at all, but it just slipped out of my mouth because I was thinking of a movie I saw on Netflix last night that showed a faculty who were all mealy-mouthed scaredy pants.” Then I would qualify that Netflix statement in a big way, “Not that I ever watch Netflix instead of preparing my lectures but my TV is broken and last night it happened to turn itself on all by itself.” I am a qualifying person in all that I do.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 01.10.2019 @ 8:24 pm


Penelope sat at the loom. She hated to weave but she hated the absence of Odysseus more. She couldn’t choose the colors: hours of indecision. Her hands, especially as the years passed, hardened with arthritis bumps. Weaving one inch of material meant hours of torment. She used hot poultices and icy water to reduce the pain. And then she went back to weave some more. She ignored friends, she ate less and less and all the feminine flesh fell off her body, she woke up in the middle of the night to return to the loom and weave one more row. She’d do anything to bring him back. And one day she did. His ship sailed into the harbor. He emerged. He looked at her and did not know her. When she looked into his eyes, she saw her reflection. Mortified, she ran back to her loom to weave him away.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 01.01.2019 @ 2:49 pm


Swifter than moonlight on a foggy night
Swifter than sunlight when the clouds are nigh
I left you once you said we’re not right
I left you swifter than an eagle can fly.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 12.29.2018 @ 2:52 pm


The new woman in our social circle is an ornament unto herself. Her face is round and rosy, her hair is a blur of blonde, her body is long and lithe. She could be a runner, or swimmer, or a hiker of mountains. Mainly she stays quiet and laughs her quiet laugh and draws in the men, all of them. It’s like she’s still nineteen but she must be at least 50. She has two children in their twenties. She has two baby grandchildren. She’s the cat who eats the cream; the glowing, glittering, glamorous ornament at the top of the Christmas tree. I look at her and think, Just wait, honey, just wait. Eventually you will fall from the tree and shatter into a million warped pieces and be kicked by someone so all of you is far under the bottom branches and can hardly be seen. But I don’t believe it. I believe she has magic that will guard her from falling into the trap of redundancy. I wish her a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 12.26.2018 @ 4:09 am


Gingerbread houses are a waste of good food. Putting world class wine into gravy is a waste of good wine. Not saying one word to me through dinner was a waste of a golden opportunity. I’m home now. I’m wasted.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 12.23.2018 @ 12:39 am


banking yet again. with the stock market descending so rapidly, the man contemplates robbing a bank. it won’t be the first time, but he has forgotten to see the new Robert Redford movie about an elderly man who kept robbing banks in the most nice, most civil, most heartwarming way. so he doesn’t know exactly how to do it. the last time he robbed a bank he was 27 and he was only the getaway driver. they got away but he was given only a small percentage of the take. now he was 85. suddenly he knew he could never do it. he’d probably be arrested as he walked into the bank. they’d know. what was another option? suicide. only he wanted to go on living. what a dilemma. suddenly he knew he’d never resolve it. he’d have to leave them all hanging. or banking.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 12.20.2018 @ 1:46 pm

Why are you sending me to banking when I needed non-fatal auto accidents? Never mind. Banking, it is. I was banking, however, on auto accidents. Non-fatal, of course. Had it been a fatal accident, I wouldn’t be writing here. My family would have been calling undertakers and asking for the cheapest coffin possible. As it is, however, it’s my car that’s missing a front end bumper, but my own front and back end are just fine, thank you. It’s my eyes, which missed seeing the red light until I was practically under it. I hate the whole process of auto accidents, from the moment of impact to the dealings with insurance adjusters to the finding of body shops (although on this island I have the best one I’ve ever gone to) to the waiting for parts to the car to the car rental dealers and then to the increase in my auto insurance. I guess by now you must be thinking I’ve had a lot of auto accidents. Yes, I have, but this is the first one that’s been my fault. In fact, two of them were when I was stopped at a red light and got rear-ended. Anyway, enough, basta, pono, cut.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 12.19.2018 @ 4:38 pm


All that jazz about jazz. I’ve been to jazz clubs. In my day, they were smoky. Crowded. Noisy with people talking despite the guys playing up on stage. I always hoped one of those guys would pick me up after the set was finished. They were mobbed by women after and I couldn’t join a mob. Or wouldn’t. I’m fonder of Golden Oldies and Soft Rock but when jazz comes on NPR, I leave it on, and sooner or later, it gets under my skin. I knew a girl named Jazzy. She was.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 12.16.2018 @ 2:43 pm


He is related to Dracula, she’s sure of it. So why is she on this date? She’s trying to find the good side of everything and everyone. She’s embraced sunshine, happiness and optimism as her core values. She knows Dracula will see that in her, respect it, and not harm her in any way. Guess what? She’s wrong.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 12.07.2018 @ 4:04 pm


Is that ISIS or oasis? Such polar opposites. My daughter is my oasis. My grandson is my oasis. My granddaughter is my oasis. My writing is my oasis. My good friends are my oasis. I’ve just never seen an oasis in the desert. I would like to live in one. For a New York minute. Oh, I think I do live in one. Hawaii. Surprise. They can get quite boring.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 12.04.2018 @ 4:01 pm


This girl I was trying to get to open up, to talk to me, whose sister had been raped and murdered, she had built up a barrier between herself and the world. It wasn’t just me, it was everyone. She’d dropped her friends, she wouldn’t talk to her parents, she stopped going to school. When she was forced to go, she stayed mute in class, in the hallways, in the principal’s office. She’d never once cried, according to her mother, and she’d insisted that she and her mother throw out all her sister’s belongings. She wrote her mother a note to that effect. Of course, the mother hid them away in the attic, but then went she went to look at them, the girl had found them, and they were gone. The family was a mess. The rapist was long gone, or else under our noses but invisible there. I think what the girl had done was set up a barrier between herself and the truth. What was the truth? It was never clear.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 11.30.2018 @ 10:50 pm


She gives me the grand tour of her castle like any bona fide princess would do. Proudly she announces her castle has 45 rooms. “We’re small,” she says, “But we’re pure gold. Ten bathrooms, 9 with solid gold fixtures, one with sterling silver for the help should they need one. Fifteen bedrooms, two libraries, one for serious students, the second for the porn, three kitchens for our three cooks. We may be small, but we’re ample enough to suit our needs.” She is a proud one, head-tossing, nose up high in the air. Would that she were pretty enough, I’d ask to see one of the bedrooms with her. As it is, I disdainfully say that we thought it would be a bigger castle, that we won’t buy this one.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 11.29.2018 @ 10:39 am


So lovely if it didn’t get tarnished. I never have found the best way to clean the silverware I have. I have 4 place settings of Toll’s Old Colonial pattern, and my younger sister has 8 placement settings. From our mother. That is the dynamic of older-younger. Self-sacrifice by the older, lack of appreciation by the younger. How many times I have fantasized going to my sister’s house, knocking on her door, and when she opens it, yelling, “Give me my two place settings back this minute. And no, I don’t want a cup of coffee to discuss it. Just get them for me now.” The fantasy is good enough for me; I don’t really want them.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 11.19.2018 @ 10:33 pm


I want you at my bedside when I die
I don’t want you to cry
I want you to say that you love me,
hold no other above me,
will cherish me always
part ways with me never.
Then I want you to say goodbye.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 11.16.2018 @ 6:47 pm


She loved the moon. Her favorite nightlight. All others, even the nightlights in fancy shapes sold by fancy stories with fancy prices, they were a pale imitation of the moon. She looked for the moon every evening, adored its varying faces. She wondered how some people could not see the man in the moon once it was partially full. He was her man, who wouldn’t want a man shining down on you, flooding you with light, loving your arms flung out, your face raised and bathed with radiance? Last night she saw the new moon, that thin crescent when it was still light out, starting the two week cycle that would bring her man back to her.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 11.09.2018 @ 5:28 pm


He waits for her, his cappuccino getting cold on the rickety cafe table. She’s always on time. What is wrong? Is she with another man? Was it something he said? He can’t stand much more of this. He throws the cup on the floor, cappuccino spilling everywhere. He looks at his watch. She’s now five minutes late.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 11.04.2018 @ 12:35 pm


She went down the wrong way on a one-way street. She was halfway down the one-way street, going against the traffic, although there was none, when a series of loud gunshots pierced the air. She pulled over to the sidewalk, wondering what the hell was going on. More and more bursts of noise, coming from the street one over, the one going the right way but she’d missed the turn. As she sat in her car, wondering why she was so upset, four cars came from the opposite direction of where her car was facing, all going at a clearly illegal speed, any or all of which might have crashed into her had she not pulled over. Shaking all over now, she made a u-turn, then a left turn, then started to turn into the street she should have taken. It was filled with cars at a standstill, some upside down, some on their sides, many with people, dead people, dead children, dead dogs, thrown next to the cars, on the ground, blood-covered, in positions of death, two or three up a tree they were thrown so high. Later she discovered it was the most horrific gang shootout in the history of the city with gang members killed but also many other drivers. Taking that street would have resulted in her death. Not stopping on the wrong one way street might have meant her death. Clearly, that morning, she made the right choice.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 11.01.2018 @ 3:09 pm


The stock market plummets; the cost of food, gas, electricity, goes up. Where does it end? Perhaps with Democrats elected two weeks from now to offset our criminal Republican government? Wake up, America. Very few people, I presume, if any, are alive to remember the Great Depression after a stock market crash in 1929. Soup lines, homelessness, deaths through starvation and freezing, savings gone all at once. Lives permanently, irretrievably, changed. My mother had to have an abortion. No money to support a baby, two salaries needed, and my parents were among the lucky ones. They had a place to live and food on the table. Her next baby was stillborn. Did she blame the abortion? I bet she did. So much of our parents is unknown; how I wish I’d asked more questions, listened more to her life history, given her more sympathy and understanding. That’s it.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 10.24.2018 @ 1:58 pm


I’ve been looking at these words for three days and nothing comes into my mind. The majority of my mind is on hold. On vacation. Disappeared. I miss it, I want it back, but there’s no majority vote for its return because the majority of my mind has deserted me.
Come back to me,
Show up again
and be my friend.
Give me a call
You were my all.
Or if not my all, my majority
So get on a bus and come home to me.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 10.22.2018 @ 12:01 am


He offered her his life for one kiss. She scoffed, “That’s ridiculous. What would I do with your life? My own is hard enough to live.” He laughed, “I can see already you’re going to be a real problem. I was using a metaphor.” She said, “I don’t believe in metaphors. I take everything quite literally. How would you like me to kill you once I kiss you?” He said, “You know, I’m going to rescind my offer.”

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 10.17.2018 @ 9:00 pm


The ‘Shaka” gesture here in Hawaii means thank you, it means that’s terrific, it means victory, it means the Aloha Spirit. It is three fingers down against one’s palm and the pinky and thumb out in opposite directions, and the hand shaking the delight of the hand’s owner.
So what can I do when a car passes me on the right, and a well-muscled male arm comes out of the window, flips me a double bird, locks one elbow into the other, and mouths “Fuck you, bitch?”
His face and those gestures are so threatening and hostile that I recoil in horror.
Then the moment is over. Fortunately his car is taking the exit ramp.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 10.16.2018 @ 1:49 pm


Sue sure wanted to be enabled. No one around to drink with, so they could say to her, “No, no, go on, have another, you deserve it.” No one to cheer for her as she stole her best friend’s boyfriend, “No, no, don’t stop! Keep badmouthing her. She doesn’t deserve him. You do.” No one to help her plagiarize her senior thesis in college, “They won’t find out and you deserve a free ride. You’ve done so much to help others.” There were plenty of people around to enable her to get to the funeral home after a victim of hers ran her over.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 10.13.2018 @ 7:57 pm


The ukulele blues. Here I am, on a Hawaiian island, missing European and East Coast U.S. culture. The ukulele feels like a kid’s instrument and if they’re your kid, you feel so proud of them, but if they’re not your kid, you’re bored to death. Ditto, the hula. Again, if they’re your kid, up there on stage or on the grass or in the school auditorium, then your heart is in your mouth with love for them, but if they’re not your kid, it’s just a bunch of slow motion waving arms and moving hips, and you’re bored out of your mind. The beach is a different story. Most of the time, no one brings a ukulele or practices the hula.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 10.10.2018 @ 3:20 pm


I grew up in an age when crinolines were worn. Those uncomfortable, elastic waisted, shaped like inverted tea cups, things that replaced half-slips to be worn under skirts. I took three buses each morning in those damn things. Finally I rebelled and wore jeans to the UCLA campus. My mother was crying when I left home for the first bus. She thought I’d be expelled. But those crinolines, and putting them on after swim class in UCLA’s unheated pool, then running up 73 steps to get to the Physics building, racing up two flights to my class with 45 boys and me, always late, never understanding? Bad enough my hair was wet and tangled. I did not get expelled. Within a week, I counted at least 5 girls in jeans. Then more, then more. I wonder what I would have done if hoops wore worn in those days? Hoop di di, la di da, I suppose.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 10.06.2018 @ 2:29 pm


it was a little circus on the southern edge of Greece. Was it French, Italian, were those gypsies we saw around and about? And we went in. On a lark, on the spur of the moment, because we wanted to sit down. And we saw up close what we’d only ever seen from far away. Clowns where we could see the stains on their clothing, see some meanness beneath the make-up. Sweat of the trapeze artists, and jugglers, and acrobats. A tough woman walking a bear around, talking to it, making it do tricks. We felt it was trapped. We felt our own freedom. Everything small scale. Everything, for us, larger than life.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 09.30.2018 @ 1:24 am


She was stuck. Unmarketable. Nothing to bring to market except an empty purse. Why could she not think outside the box? Go to market with her empty purse. Fill it with whatever she wanted. Run fast as the wind out of the store. Get caught? Not a problem. Three hots and a cot in jail.

If I had majored in marketing in college, I would have had a lifetime job in advertising, one way or the other. We used to look down at marketing. If your product is good, people will buy it. They won’t need exaggerated claims of perfection, of indispensability, of better than the Joneses. Now it seems that’s all we have. Marketing.

Better get me a website. To market myself.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 09.23.2018 @ 3:24 pm


I never use this word. Why? Hell if I know. Making sense. That’s the phrase I use.
If it makes sense, then it’s logical. If it doesn’t make sense, then it’s creative. Another word I never use is illogical. It’s illogical to use the word illogical if you never use the word logical. That’s it for this subject.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 09.20.2018 @ 1:14 pm


So he was biking, 11 years old, going fast, hit a rut, flew over the handlebars, landed smack on his head, it was before the days of “you must wear a helmet,” and died on the spot. His father handle barred his death by claiming he was immediately in touch with the boy afterward, that the boy told him he was happy in his afterlife, all was good. I’ve known others with equally horrible stories. I used to love to bike but I don’t anymore. Pardon the bleakness but anything that moves is a lethal danger. Including humans.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 09.18.2018 @ 11:58 am

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