30 September 2015

Family Pictures

“Good heavens, she’s got a face like a catcher’s mitt,” said my father. 
He was peering unhelpfully over my shoulder, as I sat at the dining room table with a fraying cardboard box full of yellowing photographs spread out in front of me. 
“Sit up straight, you’ll wind up bent into a bow. Nobody wants a woman who can double as an archery tool.-Good HEAVENS, she’s ugly,” he said, picking up the thick, yellowed cardboard rectangle from where it lay in front of me. “Plain to see all the good looks came from your mother’s side of the family.” 
He held the picture up close and frowned at it. “This is your great grandmother, so don’t get too smug. You only dodged this bullet by a chromosome or two.”
“What was her name?” I asked. 
 He’d handed me back the picture, and I frowned at it myself, trying to make her face- broad, wide, and with an expression that could politely be described as “disagreeable”- connect to anyone I knew. It was tough. It wasn’t doable.
Dad was now reaching over my left shoulder to pick some pretzels out of the smooth oval wooden bowl in front of me. “Watch out for these”, he said, waving an admonitory pretzel at me. “They look harmless, but at 100 calories apiece, they’re lethal. Of course, by the time you gain the weight , the salt will have bloated you anyway. Win-win situation, really.” He chewed thoughtfully. “But they are good. Just watch yourself.”
I was impatient. “What was her NAME, please? And stop scolding me. I’m 123 pounds, for God’s sake. ” 
“Good thing you’re tall. That could be a deadly number if you were my mother’s height.” He looked off into the middle distance. “Did I ever tell you that she got so fat that she would fall off her feet? She would just be standing there, and boom. She was very vain about her feet. They were a size 2. Like bound feet, really. And SHE was 123 pounds, once.. And look what happened to her.” He leaned over me to grab some pretzels again. “And don’t be shrill, young lady. You’re one of nature’s contraltos. Shrill doesn’t suit you.. And  the catcher’s mitt's name..hmph..what was her name? Binah!", he said triumphantly. "Binah. I think. I remember it having "beans" in it. Not good for a name.”

“Bean-ah? I have a great grandmother named Beanah?? Who is really unattractive? 
This is not good.” I looked at the photo, and tried to match his tone.  "She can’t afford a bad name. Wow, she really DOES look like a catcher’s mitt. But ..wait, is this the one, the grandmother-"
-"GREAT grandmother."- said my father-
"-who was such was such a great baker that everyone came from neighboring shtetls for miles around to buy her stuff?” I asked.
“I think so. Yeah, yeah. Although God knows how they paid for anything. Nobody HAD anything. “I’ll give you two dusty rocks and a potato for that brownie.”Shtetl life was no month in the country. -Well,  it was, really. Just not a country you’d ever want to live in. “
I smiled. “Throw in a kidney and my first born son for the carrot cake.”, I said.

“BLASPHEMY!” My Dad recoiled in mock horror. “NEVER sell your first born child for health food! Carrot cake. You are not my child. Sachertorte, sure. Those pastry pig ears, of course. All butter and sugar.  But… Root vegetables with frosting on em? No. And not for you, if you don't want to take chances with those fat genes."

“Dad. Your mother was four ten and one twenty three. I’m FIVE ten and 123. AND I have really big feet.”

“You know, I never noticed that. But you do. “I Love You Honey But Your Feets Too Big,””, he warbled. “Is that Fats Waller?”

“Dad!!! What does “Binah” mean?”

He was already bored, walking away. “I don’t know. Maybe it’s Hebrew for “flatulence”. How would I know? I married the least Jewish girl on the planet. Your mother is truly the Shiksa’s Shiksa.” 

He was on his way out the door. “I think I’ll drive to the Stop and Shop and get some Haagen Daazs."
It was ten pm, but we were used to his odd peregrinations. He was a a city boy, never got used to the suburbs.  He stopped in the doorway and turned around and looked at me, his eyes actually focussing on me, rather than doing what I thought of as his usual “periphery check”.

“That’s interesting. You know what?”

“What, Dad?”, I sighed, in that teenage way.

“I think you are my only Jewish child. “ He looked at me quizzically, and then, unexpectedly, came back and kissed the top of my head.

I was thrilled but was successful at hiding my happiness. Boy, break out the Taittinger, I thought. But I made sure not to let him see that.

“Remember dog food.”, I said, frowning at Binah’s photo, still.

“Your mother and her damned dogs. Now THAT’S a WASP thing. Don't understand that."

 He stood behind me, his hand still absentmindedly on my shoulder. I hardly dared breathe, lest I draw attention to his attention and break the magic. He stood completely still for a moment, and then chuckled.

“What? What?” I had to ask.The moment trembled in the air, half broken between us, but still present, before it would, as always, fall and shatter.

He shook himself, and removed his hand from the vicinity of my shoulder. “I was just thinking about how  your brother and his exquisite Irish Catholic socialite “Nancy Reagan was my Mom’s best friend” wife would react if they saw THAT face peering out from the bassinet."
"Wait, whose face? You mean, in December?"I asked.

" The catcher’s mitt. That face. Ha!” he said happily,”The Shtetl’s Revenge. Binah’s Back. --Alright, Miss Feet’s Too Big , do you want anything else? Dog food, ice cream…” 

He shuddered theatrically. “I refuse to BUY anything else. That’s a GHASTLY combination.”

He looked down at the photo in my hand.

“I will tell you this much, though. Ol’ Binah  would have had to have been a DAMNED good cook.”

“Um…Well, Dad, if you’re going to get ice cream, I guess I want-"

But it was too late, by seconds.

The screen door had already swung behind him then.  My handsome father, was gone.

08 June 2015

"Goddess" is such an overused word.

¨Goddess" is an overused word.

Look over here.


I am that girl 
The first and the middle and the last and the always girl.
Yes! -THAT one. 
The girl you had the crush on in kindergarten, your eyes sliding over to see
if I'd be
Your secret Valentine. 
I am the joy in that five year old's smile, always, for you, and,
I am her joy, she is me.

Today I cried, though. I  feel no goddess at all.

When I was away gathering wood for our hearth, she whispered to you
And you frowned and nodded and said " Yes that must be true"
And you both said "Go. We don't want you."

And now I feel small. 

I take out the bright mirror and the dark mirror,

The dark mirror sings
 "You are ugly, old one. You are wrong.
The dark mirror has a song like a lullaby buzzsaw. It sings
"Oh what I say is true,
The gifts you give are tainted. No one loves ,or could love, or WILL love, or HAS loved
 such a one as you."
I can feel my strength rain away. 
 I reach for the bright mirror too
The bright mirror says nothing, for the bright mirror is busy doing her own makeup
The bright mirror says "Am I as pretty as her? What can I do?"

Throw those mirrors away, sister . The only mirror here is you.

So? You gonna cry or you gonna play ball here or what?

We say together:

I will not let anyone steal my fire
You will not be my Prometheus
And if you do steal my fire, so what?
Stolen fire goes out and leaves you in the dark
My fire keeps replenishing. You cannot handle my real fire
For then you'd have to know that you have your own.


I am the singer in the storm.
I am my own medicine. I make this from all poisons . 

I love my own grace, wit and style  enough that you don't have to...but you will.

I promise
Ohhh you will.

I have the interdependence

 that is the true independence,
A bird entwined with the wind,
I have unlimited riches that are also yours
I am like a queen so entwined with her people
I am proud of the love of making songs
 that flows through me like I am the trout and the river too


I will be vulnerable ...but not foolish with it
Generous.. but not foolish with it
Foolish but not fucking stupid
If I am foolish we will laugh together
I laugh with you at the joke of our own being.

I am proud of the tender heart that nestles in my breast like a bird.

I am happy to be happy. Sad to be sad. 
But my emotions are my own.

My life? is is my own. Yes, I bend towards those I love, like a reed,

but then
I sway back to stand tall again
against the river
I am truth. Simple and in bloom.

I call in the spirits of my ancestors to surround me with family love.

AOnce they arrive, we open the door to friends:

I call in Hare Spirit, who always sees the joke
Who guides the seer in her tent and brings food and water
To the oracle in her cave
And jumps away fast, white tail mocking your slowness

 I call in Ant Spirit for working when I don't want to work particularly

Thank you and fuck you Ant Spirit.-No, really.

I call in Beautiful Oshun for love and abundance, 

I call in Wise Minerva for intelligence, 
and Probably Lesbian Artemis to protect me 
with her bow and slightly ironic arrows
I burn sugar for the Hungry Ghosts and they don't notice me in their greed for sweeties
Rush past me out  the side door, unbiting, full;
I am that Valentine filled with moonblood, 
I am the healer, skin against skin, breath combined to make me part of you
There has never been a such as I
I am the only one like this, made of mud and snot and orgasm and fireflies
Of mirrors light and dark, the spider and the spiderweb, 
I am the only one like this!

Throw back your head and let your throat reverberate with your yell

that you are the only you

And I will see you again at sunrise

And we will do this dance again
Daily, the same.. only?




17 February 2015

Everyone Loves Me But You

That plastic surgeon on Park Avenue
Wants to know if he can take me to a do
He's mighty handsome-
He can make me pretty, too!
Everyone loves me...but you.

That brilliant artist
Wants to paint me in the nude
His paintings hang
In the Metropolitan, dude
To refuse to be a nude muse to genius, would be rude..
But i do
I stay home at night and paint my toenails blue.
Cuz everyone loves me...but you.

You and I see movies
You and I have dinner
You and I take long walks in the park...
You want to do at night, what most people do in daytime
I want to do what folks do after dark..
Can we just park??

The plastic surgeon wants to take me to the Philharmonic
The painter wants to fly me to the Louvre
And while I dog your footsteps till I'm almost catatonic
The writer gave me first editions of his entire oeuvre ...

Hmmm....Hmmm... Wait just a cotton picking minute....

Thursday? Dear I'd love to but I'll be at Lincoln Center
Friday I would love to, but I'm posing in the nude;
Saturday? We're going on a literary bender;
And Sunday? Gosh I hope I don't sound rude..
But the next few years there's just no time that's free...

Because everyone loves you
yes, every girl loves you..
I wish you all the best
But you hit "pause" so get some rest!..
Know how hard you studied but you never took the test;
So be free:
And do have a happy life,
But you won't have me as wife
Because everyone loves you
But me.

peri lyons 2015

09 February 2015

Five Things to Do Before Getting Outta Bed That Will Make You Happy

As a Practicing Lazy Person, getting out of bed has never been my strong point. I like being comfy and snoozy and warm- so much that my Mom had to have me induced, because I was three weeks late and not budging.. The doctors finally sat my Mom down and told her that the problem was, apparently, that her child was- gasp- a musician, so getting that kid out of ANYWHERE where she was getting free food, free rent and not being judged for napping, was going to require drastic measures.  Seriously: They'd already unplugged my amp, and I still wasn't budging. The pre-natal tests were very clear: I was going to stay in there well into my early twenties, unless serious measures were taken.

Decades later, I still don't like getting out of bed. I don't care if I have tickets to the circus, a date with Benedict Cumberbatch, and a guaranteed winning lottery ticket scheduled for later that day, because if I wake up in a bed with 800 thread count sheets, fluffy blankets, and, for preference, a scantily clad genius* with impure intentions, it's going to take Serious Measures to get me to Step Away From The Comfy.

So here are five things that actually work. Try these simple steps, and you will most likely have a great day. 

1) Remember who you love and who loves you.

There are a ton more people you love, than you think. It sounds sappy, but it's true.
I have a list I keep of people I adore, appreciate, am grateful to and for, and it's in a notebook next to my bed. I add to it every morning (after getting out of bed), when I'm doing my spiritual work, so the list keeps growing. Nice thing about "love"-that most folks don't think about-  is that it doesn't have to be A Really Big Deal, or reciprocated (though it probably is), or Legally Binding. It doesn't just have to be family and friends...it can be as simple as people you bump into every day who smile when they see you.It can be your pets, past and present. It can be your favorite diner waitress. It can be ex lovers for whom you still wish the best. It can be- it is!- anyone who makes you smile.
 I think about each one of them, and send them each love, appreciation, thanks, and good feelings. Then i think about people I know who love me. Sure, they may be delusional, and yes, I pay them, but it still counts. I think about the fact that I have people who will call to see if I'm okay if they haven't heard from me for a day or two, and only about half of them are debt collectors, is something that makes me feel really good. In fact, if you let yourself really open up to how much you are genuinely loved, it's euphoric.

2) Remember that you're awake and therefore probably alive. This is a VERY GOOD START.

It's a good sign when you wake up and you're NOT either surrounded by people wearing white robes and playing harps, or, alternately, screaming in agony while being engulfed in unquenchable eternal fire. It means that you get another day to either fuck up massively and still be forgiven, or, ideally, NOT fuck up and get some great work done. You might meet a great new friend. You might fall in love, or, if you are in love, fall in love more. Today might be the day you tell that person exactly but exactly how amazing you think he/she/other, is. Today might be the day he/she/other smiles and reaches out her arms and says "Of course ya do, ya big silly. Come here.."
Or..or..You might be in the right place at the right time to say the right thing and change someone's life for the better. You might write a song that will outlive you. You might exceed your known limits and inspire yourself and others. You might get smiled at by a baby. Someone might tell you you're beautiful. The world is so full of possibilities tat there isn't even a word in the English language to express it. In other words? It might be better than you think. Eventually? It always is.

Also, as someone who has almost died a few times, I can tell you that waking up alive is a much bigger deal than it can occasionally seem.

3) There will be breakfast.

This might seem like a no-brainer, but as someone who has gone hungry in my life, the fact that 2 bucks will get you coffee and a roll even if you're broke, is a great incentive to be happy. If you actually  live in a house with a kitchen and a full refrigerator, you are so fucking lucky that I don't know what to tell you, except "dude, enjoy that.". One or two of us have lsot everything and come back from that, and while that was no fun at all, it means that we (okay, I)  no longer take anything for granted, which means that I am grateful as hell for really small stuff, which means that I am one genuinely happy babe a great deal of the time. So "there will be breakfast" is my own personal shorthand for "there will be a billion chances to be grateful today"...and that, my dears, is seriously key.

4) Someone might make and bring you coffee.

I actually truly feel that this is one of the greatest joys in life. Without exaggeration. If someone gets up before you, makes you coffee the way you like it, and brings it to you in bed, then everything else in life is pretty much frosting, because this means  you are loved, you are cared for, you are thought about, and caffeine is involved. Make sure you thank the person involved in a sincere and possibly time consuming way. This is a PG rated essay, so we'll leave it at that, but...use your imagination.

5) if you have company, express physical and emotional  affection. If you don't, do it anyway.

If you are with another human, take as much time as you can and snuggle, cuddle, tickle, give compliments, and allow yourself to enjoy him/her/other in every way you can. I am a big believer in the incredible magical healing powers of sex, as much, as often and as joyously as possible, and am also NOT a big believer in coming up with reasons to avoid it. Set the alarm earlier. Try something new. Wake 'em up in a novel way. If you're alone, treat yourself with the same joy, physical expression of love and appreciation you'd give someone else. This also creates a space for someone amazing to enter your life...you're creating an energetic space for that! 
Studies have shown repeatedly that if you're sexual with your partner every single day, no matter what, it can literally double your happiness in the relationship. Even if you're with someone who, for physical reasons, can't have sex as you might normally define it, you can still be joyfully erotic with each other...and you'll be happily amazed at what miracles of healing can occur. 

Extra credit: 
Open yourself up to God, to The Big Love, or however you define it. You don't breathe you..Something Else does, and that Someone/Something loves, holds, supports, cherishes and nourishes you now and always has and always will. It could be science. It could be G-d. It could be gravity. It's definitely Love.

So. Who am I, Miss Nobody from Nowheresville, to give you advice?
Because, maybe....I'm happy. Didn't used to be. Hoo boy. Nope.

In the last five years, I have survived brain injury, heart failure, clinical depression,  tumors, reversal of fortune, and a fiance's suicide. (I also stubbed my toe once and got a C in algebra. IF you can imagine.) But for whatever reason, I seem to get happier every day, in bite size increments. 
Happiness is a discipline . It's easier and more comfortable to not choose happiness.It's easy to find reasons not to take chances in love, or life....you could get hurt, or fail.

The good news is, you WILL get hurt. You WILL fail. People, including me, including you, are crazy, selfish, untruthful...and also loving, kind beyond belief, and infinitely amazing. 

So get outta bed because there is a miracle in every cell of your body, in every molecule of your food, in every vibration of the energy your own perfectly necessary brand of love, emits as you walk around being a dope like the rest of us. A big, miracle creating,  unconsciously perfect dope. It's what we all are. It's funny and beautiful and sad and surprising and sbolutely, perfectly wonderful.

And while you're up?

Can I have a coffee, please? Milk and two sugars?

Go get em, Tiger.