A Poem: “On Being Young By Water”

“On Being Young By Water”

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(Begun 4/28/11 – Maybe Sort of Finished 5.23.15)

 

By Jane Tawel

Do you remember those nights

Of being young by water?

Do you recall the haunting of the watery smell

As you lay longing in your bed until

You threw your covers off?

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And when the sounds of waves lapped against your dreams

You woke to yearning more complete than any pain,

More in tune with your need than any Sirens’ Songs,

Swooshing against the solitary staccato of your heart.

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When you were young,

Encased within the sounds and smells and sights of H2O

The Water World held your DNA

More tightly than a womb.

Your small raised fists floated carelessly

Arguing for sense in puberty’s mad, mad world.

The moonlight stabbed through leaky window screens

And the water washed away day’s bloody light.

‘Til morning expelled you to breathe away the night.

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The sunwaves licked you like a hungry cat each morning

And the daywaves called you out to splash and play,

Luring you to your death against the shoals of growing up.

And the lullaby of water

Nixed you to sleep on dreamwaves each night.

**************************************************************

When I was young with 78’s

I knew the watery poets better than my best friend,

Who never really was, though not imaginary.

We traded diaries and sleepovers,

Creating the tie-dye fantasies of our futures.

We swam upstream toward an unseen shore.

I didn’t know that friends loved with oars while

I swam rudderless, hoping for a lifeguard.

**************************************************

One day I found a Lifesaver floating by on a river of blood.

I jumped in the water and got dunked three times,

Father, Son and Holy Water.

I’m still clinging, trying not to drown in the baptism of Life.

************************************************

And now the waves keep rolling me along past landing after landing,

Safety always geysering just out of reach

Only enough strokes left to make it a little further today

While my arms grow weary and my legs numb.

And I know that scary things lurk underneath

And I know I cannot surface or I will drown.

*******************************************************

Now I thirst to come ashore and wake to

My aqueous dreams by The Lake,

And languish in young hurt,

And cry waves of tears at lost love–

Imagined oceanic love, not real –

Real love is like a desert.

**********************************************

I tried to take a CPR crash course so I could teach my daughter how to swim.

She swims so hard, she sweats while shivering wet with cold, cold tears

But acts as if she’s always dry—

Modeling like Ran

For the Sea’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.

She blasts into me for being wrong about how drenched her heart is,

She thinks that I won’t notice she is taking a hot shower in icy unshed tears.

No, nothing’s wrong, Mom……” Except on Facebook.

We paddled too far from the water world and the desert daily drowns us.

I only want to sail her home.

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Do you remember those nights of

Being young by water?

Oh! the smell of waving, living water still breaks my heart, ten thousand miles away.

*******************************************************

Now I float helplessly, treading foolishly in Time’s Current

“You can’t outswim Me”, Dylan the Second Wave god reminds.

********************************************************

And the days’ tides run out to nights.

And I do not sleep through them

Anymore.

I lie awake knowing that soon

The tide will not return.

At least for me.

*****************************************************

I hope someday, I shall not burn out,

But float away

Buoyed up to walk on waves,

Young again, forever

Spending endless days and nights

Of being young by water.

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A Poem from A Trip to Los Osos 2012

Poem from Los Osos   10/ 7/12

This is a poem written after walking through the bird and nature preserve in Los Osos, California. I love walking there whenever I am happy enough to find myself in that treasured neck of the woods. I remembered the poem by repeating it in my mind over and over until I got to the Mexican restaurant and asked the waitress who was setting up for the breakfast crowd for a napkin and pen to borrow so I could write it down. We were staying with our wonderful California family, The Tooles. On this same walk I received a free dvd of about an hour and a half of bird sightings from a gentle man with binoculars who thought I might like it.  I gave it to Heather Toole as a house gift.

“Los Osos Preservation”

by Jane Tawel

I like the dross of water.

It has a stellar stink

Of rotting stars caught under.

It makes a person think.

And, Oh, the dead eyes gleaming!

And, Oh, the fishy smell!

If heaven is so teaming,

Then who could ‘ere fear hell?

Traveling Dreams

Traveling Dreams

May 10, 2015

By Jane Tawel

For my children on Mother’s Day: Keep in The Dream Way

 

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I had one of my traveling dreams last night. I have always had traveling dreams and they are always stressful, slightly scary, and silly, and pretty easy to analyze.

 

In my traveling dreams I am always trying to get somewhere. It is always dark, even if it is happening in the daytime. I am always driving or being driven somewhere in a car of dubious merit. Since becoming a parent, I often have my children with me. I am almost always lost and can’t find my way. Told you this would be easy to analyze.

 

In my traveling dream last night, my cousin Emily was driving and I was in the passenger seat. We had another woman with us in the back seat who was a friend or second cousin twice removed sort of person. She was a Ginger. We were trying to get somewhere so Emily could catch a plane. We were travelling all those little back roads and highways that used to be so common in the Midwest but every once in a while we would hit a terrifying freeway and have to get off. I took over driving and got lost and pulled into someone’s driveway to turn around. We ended up in a small town and the police started following us, then another police car came along side and pulled us over. They made us get out of the car. They thought that we were kidnapping the ginger-haired girl in the back seat. The female and male cops pulled the unnamed Ginger second cousin twice removed aside and then asked Emily to tell them the first name of the girls’ father’s father. Neither of us knew it though we racked our brains trying. Even though we didn’t know the name that would prove we knew the Ginger and were not kidnapping her, for some reason unexplained to us, the cops realized we were not kidnappers and let us go. We went to a cafeteria line where suddenly my cousin Amy and my sister Janet appeared and the second cousin twice removed disappeared. I put a plastic container of salad with edemame beans on my tray. Emily asked for the two taco plate. I decided I wanted tacos as well but did I still want the edemame salad? Emily insisted she was treating all of us. The dream ended before I knew what I decided to eat.

 

Sometimes all you can say about a dream, is “Life is like that.”

 

Life is full of choices. In life, you are always trying to get somewhere. Life is confusing and you often feel lost. You have companions on the way, some known and loved and some that are just along for the ride. Bad things do happen to good people and good people do often do bad things and sometimes the cops catch the wrong people and sometimes the bad people get their just desserts and sometimes the cops don’t show up at all. Sometimes the cops in real life actually shoot you dead for no reason. And some times the cops get shot dead for no reason. Just like in their nightmares. And Life is like a dream because we so often are just asking, “why did that happen?” and we are in it having to keep driving forward without ever knowing how it ends. Ever try to get back into a dream after you wake up and find out how it ends. Life is like that.

 

Sometimes, in real life just like in dreams, we seem to have no idea how we got to the place we find ourselves in. It is often because we weren’t paying attention to the choices we made when we started that particular journey. Just like in dreams, suddenly you are there. Sometimes we end up somewhere in life because we are dreaming when we should have been paying attention to what we were actually doing at the time. “Did I leave my keys in the car when I locked it?” — sort of attention deficit things.

 

The end of a day or a month or year is sometimes like waking from a bad dream because we got lost on the way. Sometimes we push the gas instead of the brakes or the brakes instead of the gas. Life is stressful because we just keep driving even if we don’t know how to get to where we think we want to arrive. We often refuse to stop and ask directions.

 

And Real Life is always slightly scary, at least once you take the wheel of your own life. Life was much less frightening when your mom was driving you home and whenat the end of a day you found yourself snuggled up against your parent in a warm bed after a large meal and a cup of cocoa.

 

Also, to be honest, our lives are frankly always a wee bit silly. Most of our life’s journeys should be relegated to the “I went to Target and the post office today” sort of journeys, not the crossing the Rubicon or the “It is a far, far better thing I do” sort of journey. But then since none of will know until the next life, the true meaning of each day’s journey, we should never image that our silly selves are not somehow also living out an epic journey full of unseen battles and quite a few seen ones.

 

If you read some of the great books that show in equal parts, humans as God-imagers and frailly ridiculous beings, you get a better idea of how spectacular and silly we all are. We are heroes unawares. Explore characters like those in Lewis’ Space Trilogy, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, or Anne Tyler’s or Jody Picoult’s women heroes and you will hopefully see humanity in a light that our dreams often try to reveal to us.   I am not talking here about the brokenness / heroic element in a Sydney Carton or a Billy Pilgrim. I am talking about tilting at windmills and a thumb to hold back a flood. I am talking about flying dreams and being famous dreams. I am talking about silly disciples walking with The Christ and arguing about who gets what chair near the future King’s throne. And Jesus responding by both laughing at their silly hubris while recognizing the heroic efforts to follow God that lay around the unseen bend for these human beings. Jesus must have some good chuckles at our silliness as we slap-stick through Life. And yet, just like the disciples who confused gaining a throne without carrying a cross, God has an inexplicably dream-like desire to help us humans drive towards the brink of heroism. Sometimes, we even leap over the chasm of “quiet lives of desperation” into something gloriously God-like.

 

I am talking about Life not as a linear attempt at accomplishment but as a traveling dream. I am talking about dreams in real life if not necessarily what we consider real time and place.

 

Dreams always have their own sense of time and place but aren’t usually what we consider factual time and place. Quite often they do not end up how and where we imagine they will or should. In this way our dreams illuminate something of God’s view of time and reality. A dream begs the question, what is Reality? Am I seeing this as it is? Is the meaning of what is really going on inside me more revealed when I am awake or when I am helplessly, innocently asleep?

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I like to mess with my husband about my Native American heritage. If you know anything about the Native Americans you know that dreams are an important part of their belief system, much like they used to be for Judeo-Christian folk in the Bible. The Native Americans believe that it is your soul that dreams dreams, not your mind or your body. In this philosophy, life is one big Dream and in that the impermanence of this life is recognized. Steven Bancarz writes of Native American philosophy, “It is by experiencing the realness of the dream world that we appreciate the dream-ness of the real world”.[1] The Bible talks about the reality of dreaming versus the reality of what we imagine is only in our waking this way: It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. (Joel 2:28)

 

 

Eugene Petersen in his book Tell It Slant, talks about Christ’s use of apocalyptic language. Petersen notes that Jesus uses stories to reveal to us Kingdom reality which is not a future apocalyptic dream or a past historical accomplishment, but a present reality behind an almost dreamlike curtain of the world we try to see with fallen eyes. The kingdom world can often only be approached not with eyes wide open but through eyes closed, as in sleep, to the oncoming traffic of the world and open to the dream world that exists just beyond our consciousness. Just beyond our small egos.

 

Much like the telling of dreams, Jesus’ stories are not easily understood nor analyzed. Parables have a dreamlike quality because they reveal the world behind the curtain. When Jesus is telling the story of the widow and the judge in Luke 17:20-37, Petersen writes,“he does it by introducing a radical reorientation on the nature of time and place, kingdom time and place.” Peterson goes on to say, “Jesus is training our imaginations so that we will be able to participate appropriately in the great salvation drama that is taking place right now – not world events of the future but the presence of the kingdom right now. Apocalyptic is a language strategy for breaking open awareness of the tremendous energies of good and evil contending with one another beneath the apparently benign skin of the ordinary.” [2]

 

Apocalyptic language gets our attention, like a dream might abruptly wake us from sleep. Apocalyptic awareness says, “Repent”, which is another way of saying “Turn around, you are driving the wrong way.” Apocalyptic awareness, like a dream, reveals what is under the surface of our world and often wakes us up to a different reality.

 

It is like the first time you reach out your arms to hold your newborn child. Though it seems like a dream after all the planning and striving and fears and work and hopes, your deepest being knows immediately that reality will never be the same again. You will no longer see reality as you did before you became a parent. The world has changed forever. You have turned a corner and the road will lead you in a whole new direction. And you are desperate every day thereafter for the rest of your life and his or her life, to find a perfect map that will take you and the most precious being in the world in the right direction. So she will be safe. So he will be fulfilled in a career. So she will find the right soul mate. So he will be brave in the face of disaster. You scour maps so you can help this new little entrusted life drive the straight path and find The Way.

 

There are many options today for getting directions. I am old enough to remember the giant tome called The Thomas Guide that was your traveling bible when you moved to Los Angeles. Today I prefer Mapquest, but my children swear by Googlemaps. All religions promise to provide a life map. The Judeo-Christian Life-map is revealed in the Scriptures, the lives of those who have tried to follow the Life-map, and in the Life of the Son of God who came to live the Life-map to the fullest. Early Christians first called our Life-map simply, “The Way”. Now we often get a bit lost in what we think is Christian Reality and we start calling The Way things like theology, Arianism, Calvinism, Wesleyanism, hermeneutics, and Vacation Bible School. These often help but they often simply encourage us to define other humans as going the wrong way. Sometimes all the technologies and labels and secure findings trap us in a sort of Christian couch potato life, watching Rick Stevens live the journey while we only talk about it. Not travel it.

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I fear sometimes with all my knowledge about The Way, that I have lost the joy in the journey on The Way. I think I know where I’m going but it’s just in my head. It’s a dream, not a reality of living in The Way.

 

Remember when you were a kid and you just hopped in the back of the car and let your parent drive you someplace. Even if the place had a name you recognized like Grandma’s house, or The Mall, how you actually got there was always a mystery. You couldn’t see much as your little child self, looking out the back seat window. But you weren’t afraid, because Dad was driving. Mom was reading the map and telling Dad, “no you missed the street, turn around.” Your sister was pulling your hair and you desperately had to pee but didn’t want to tell the parents because then they’d pull over and make you crouch behind a bush. So you looked out the window, tried to avoid your mean sister, and trusted you could hold it long enough so that Your Parent could get you to Grandma’s bathroom.

 

The Way is best traveled if you sit in the back seat, hold on, enjoy what you can see out the window, avoid the mean sisters, and let Your Parent drive.

 

 

The Way. Sometimes when I read about The Way or hear about people who have lived The Way, I think I must be dreaming. Who could live like this and get any where? I mean it can’t be real. You must be dreaming to think you can live out The Way on this earth, at this time, in this place, with these people, with that going on, with all the this and that and those. You are living in a dream world, girl friend to think you can do what Jesus did, follow God’s instructions, trust the Holy Spirit. Get a reality check, dude. Smell the coffee, honey. Wake up! Jane, ole thing, you gotta get in the driver’s seat, sit up front, take control of the wheel, and never stop to ask for directions or turn around and start again. Don’t admit defeat, don’t admit you are lost. Just drive, girl, drive!

 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, soul, strength and mind, and He will direct your path.” Prov. 3:5,6

 

I am The Way, the Truth and the Life.” – Jesus –John 14:6

 

 

 

This is what the kingdom on earth as in the heavens, looks like. Kingdom Life is a dreamlike reality, open to our imaginations, beating on our hearts like an unseen guest at the door, alive in the souls who do not crush the dream for a blind, tasteless portion of “reality”. The journey towards the Kingdom is full of adventure, full of choices, full of bad guys and good guys, and filled with moments of heroism and moments of hubris. Just like the journey of childbirth or adoption, Life is full of pain and angst and fear and bad choices and good luck and you would do it all over again because at the end you get a prize.

 

At the end of childbirth, you get to see that little face and you know that every step of that hard dreamlike journey was worth it. You dreamt about this moment of having a child for so long and at last you know the real meaning of what it means to be a parent.

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At the end of Life’s Journey, Jesus promises a prize. We will see the face of our Savior. And the real meaning of the dream of this chimeric world, will be gloriously revealed to be something similarly dreamlike and really quite different after all. And that is why following the Life- map of The Way is worth every thing. For what does it profit me if I gain the whole enchilada, but lose my soul’s way? What profit is there in gaining what I dream I want if I lose the reality of what God wants for me?

 

Have you heard that theory that we never actually die in our dreams? That we always wake up before we hit the ground, or get run over by the bus or crash the car? That is the promise of Christ’s dream if we follow The Way. We will never die but simply wake from what we thought was reality, to find it was always only a dream.

 

Once upon a time a young woman named Caitlin, saw her boyfriend named Raoul, take off for California to work for JPL. She stayed behind in Boston, a city she loved and where she had acting gigs and friends and a free place to live. It was also where she began calling herself Caitlin instead of Jane because it would make her famous enough to achieve her dream of getting on the Johnny Carson Tonight Show as a famous actress (Did I mention she dreamed of being famous?).

 

But a funny thing happened after Raoul had been gone for three months. Caitlin began to miss Raoul. She began to dream of him. So Caitlin hopped in her un-airconditioned Mazda GLC Hatchback and with Triple AAA flip-maps on the passenger seat, began to drive all the way across the big ole’ country of the United States of America. No GPS, no cell phone, no laptop, no gmail, no companion. Just Caitlin and her AAA maps. She made it to her mom’s house in Indiana for some loving and free food. She made it to her Uncle Marlin and Aunt Sally’s house in Kansas City. The morning Caitlin left, Uncle Marlin snuck out and filled the tank with gas and the tires with air and the whatcha ma thingy with oil. Aunt Sally snuck a packed lunch with cookies for dessert into the back seat.

 

Our heroine Caitlin got seriously lost in Omaha but eventually turned around and found her way. A flat tire made her swear. Once when she stopped at Wendy’s for lunch, she left her watch that her grandma had given her, in the restroom and someone stole it before she went back and could retrieve it. That watch was gone forever and it still makes her sad.

 

When Caitlin finally hit Phoenix she was a bit bedraggled and shell shocked and did not at first compute that it was blizzarding in what she had assumed was a part of the world that was always hot. Caitlin thought she must be dreaming. She managed to pull of the road in time to buy the tire chains but when she got to the part of the road that said “no tire chains, no go”, she was defeated. So she sat in her little tin can of a car, a bit teary for a heroine, who was going many miles for her man. Then an angel of the Lord dressed up like a trucker stepped out of a chariot that looked like an eight-wheel semi, and said “Fear not, I bring tidings of great joy!” And he asked if he could help. Caitlin never saw that trucker again which proves he was an angel.

 

After two nights in a Motel 6, our heroine Caitlin, outlasted the Evil Blizzard and began the terrifying trip flying on the dragon’s back of The 10 and The 210 into Los Angeles County. She arrived, eyes still stuck open with fear after her first near death experience with LA traffic, and she stepped out onto the sidewalk of Brent Avenue, South Pasadena. Caitlin realized as she stood, her legs numb with days of straight driving, that she was getting wet, and thought that it must be raining, not realizing it never rains in California. She was instead, standing in her first ever sprinkler system.

 

Behind the warmly lighted windows of the ground floor apartment, the inhabitants must have sensed the heroine’s presence. Out of the door flew Sophia Fifi Caesar, and Scott Warner, and their newest housemate, Raoul Tawel. And when Caitlin saw her Raoul, the one for whom she had traveled long and suffered much, she thought she must dreaming.

 

But it was real.

 

 

And the journey’s end for Caitlin was accomplished. And she deemed it Good. And there was peace in the land and in her heart and there was much love and joy for many days.

 

The End.

 

But of course it wasn’t the end but only a new beginning. And soon a new traveling journey was begun.

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I pray for you my children, that you will dream the dreams God has for your life. They are more exciting, more joy and peace filling, and more real than any thing you could possible dream on your own. If you follow the Life Map and keep on The Way by letting God plan the journey and Jesus take the wheel, you will arrive at Life’s end and wake up to see the Face that makes you sing out, “Oh, so that is what it all meant!”

And then the journey begins anew.

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Footnotes:

[1] http://www.spiritscienceandmetaphysics.com/where-our-soul-goes-when-we-dream-according-to-native-americans/#sthash.PXCziz1e.dpu

[2] Peterson, Eugene H. Tell It Slant. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2008. Pp. 129 – 131.

Randomness and Such

Randomness and Such

May 3, 2015

By Jane Tawel

I find myself on any given day with a mind attacked by randomness and such. For instance:

  1. Have you ever noticed how cats are Eastern in mentality and dogs are Western in attitude? If you meet a dog they either aggressively yell at you to get out of their dang lane or they greet you like their long lost cousin who just won the lottery. If you meet a cat, they silently stare at you, assess you, then seriously nod approval or else turn their mystic backs on you and walk away. It was no mistake cats were once considered gods and dogs were once considered food .
  1. Have you ever thought about how many things you would have to learn to do differently if you only had one hand?
  1. Have you noticed that if someone else makes the salad, it tastes better?
  1. But it tastes better if you make your own cup of coffee. I mean I am surprised that Starbucks has not just let people come behind the counter and do it themselves. If you want an Americano, no foam, two extra shots, vanilla essence on the side and over easy, come on back and make it your dang self. It will taste better.
  1. Have you noticed how the Starbucks mermaid’s breasts are bigger than her hips? I mean how could she possibly swim?
  1. Have you noticed there are too many shopping carts in America and not enough farmers’ markets.
  1. Have you noticed that Americans cannot stop shopping? It is a National Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I seriously believe some one started putting something in the American water back in the Fifties. It is not our fault; we cannot help it because even the psychologists and priests drank the water.
  1. Have you ever noticed how every once in a while it really unnerves you to step on a crack?
  1. Have you ever noticed how other people’s chewing drives you crazy? Either it is the way they put the food in their mouths, or the sounds they make, or the way they look at their food suspiciously or lustfully before putting it in their mouths, or the way they keep their mouths slightly open so you can see all the food rolling around in there, or it’s the way they close their mouths tightly in case some food might try to run away and join the circus or the way they scrape their teeth on the fork, or it’s just the mere thought of their masticating food in the first place that makes you want to kill them.
  1. Have you noticed how you don’t notice how the way you eat drives other people crazy? I can see why people start eating alone in their little caves where no one sees their disgusting habits and poor manners, and they don’t have to hear the hideous sounds other people make when they eat.
  1. Have you ever thought about faithfully and purposefully exercising your laugh muscles as much as you exercise your other muscles? At 6:00 pm every day for twenty minutes I’m going to start laughing at something. Hard. I think I’ll feel better and live longer. If my kids don’t put me away.
  1. Have you ever thought about what it would really be like to be Bill Gates?
  1. Have you noticed how water always tastes better with something in it? Like ice. Or lemon. Or scotch.
  1. Have you noticed how the customer is no longer always right?
  1. Have you noticed how you can anticipate bad things but joy is always a surprise?
  1. Have you ever thought that there really are enough hours in a day there just isn’t enough you in a day?
  1. Have you noticed that pandas are always just so cute?
  1. Have you ever thought about the fact that bruises are so random? You can almost never remember how you got that bruise.
  1. But you can almost always remember when your ego got that bruise.
  1. Have you noticed that men love you if you take them out for breakfast?

Random thoughts include things like:

  • Pomegranates
  • Where do people get all their money? They cannot all work for Microsoft or be congressmen. They must sell drugs.
  • People can choke to death on just about anything.
  • Noses get bigger and mouths get smaller.
  • Canada
  • Smells bring back memories more than sounds do.
  • Why do we need hair in our nostrils?
  • Why do women paint their toenails and men don’t?
  • Watermelon has never really tasted the same since they took the seeds out.
  • Is Bill Gates really human? Or is he a robot that only looks human?
  • Is it really necessary to have so many fonts?
  • Who really did invent spaghetti?
  • Urban Myths aren’t always.
  • Belinda is a cool name for girls
  • Joe is a cool name for guys.
  • Sign language is beautiful to watch even if you don’t understand it.
  • Art is beautiful to look at even if you don’t understand it.
  • If you don’t understand poetry, it isn’t much fun.
  • Lima beans should never have been considered eatable.
  • You always like people who still wear a watch.
  • Earphones should have an expiration date stamped on them.
  • Do I always have something stuck in my teeth?
  • Tibet
  • Where has all the clover gone?
  • If she sells seashells by the seashore is she an eco-terrorist?
  • Were the Grimm brothers breast -fed or bottle-fed?
  • Hairless dogs are just wrong.
  • I would really like to learn the NATO phonetic alphabet but I’m kind of ok with messing with my insurance company or credit card company and being helpful by saying M as in Mom and I as in Is and B as in Broke. I am silently exercising my laugh muscles.
  • I miss paper.
  • Worms can’t get out of the way.
  • earthworm-3