I was invited to read in this poetry and spoken word show. The theme is “Fearlessness,” and so I wrote this sonnet:
“Fearlessness” is the chosen theme, you say?
The word—alone—strikes fear in this arch heart.
I fear many things: traffic, tooth decay,
Bears, the acid skin of some men, just to start.
And, in the night, stiff straight, I lay awake,
Because it was chasing me. What was? It!
It was. But that’s when…I take It by the throat
And…I snuggle It close, damned hypocrite.
This is my life, and I am living it.
Day by day by day by day by day by…
It is mine. Mine. Fear: my bitch, my trinket.
When the audience is ready to play…
Fear-less-ness, you say? I want fear. I eat
It for breakfast, and for ev’ry meal and treat.
May 27, 2014
For a decade, I had an extremely unique car. He made everyone smile. At least once a day, my Little Buddy the T-bird made at least one other person besides me happy, and sometimes many more. I loved him. He was faithful, loyal, and brave through 114,000 miles and a decade together. He had a powerful V-8 engine under his hood, and he was 252 horsepower-full of fun. He was a rare gem with white-and-black leather seats and a smooth-to-the-touch, ivory stick shift. He even got excellent gas mileage and immaculate emissions reports.
I have included a photo here of the original 1955 mint-green model, the very first Ford Thunderbird. My Little Buddy was made in this signature color: Only 50 in this color were in the 11th generation of T-birds, the last series, which was produced only from 2002-2005, and I had one of them. I saw another mint-green signature model from the same series only one time, up in L.A. at the corner of Sunset and Coldwater Canyon in Beverly Hills. I waved enthusiastically; he did not wave back. Snob, I thought. I had my Little Buddy, and he had me; we were not alone.
Sadly, my Little Buddy was struck down in his prime on March 2, 2014. He has been mourned and very much missed. I had hoped we would be together for another decade, but unfortunately Ford (absurdly) decided not to support these little beauties, and no parts were available to rebuild him. He was finally relinquished to the insurance company, but not before I laid myself across his hood in the parking lot of the Ford dealership body shop and wept like a B movie queen. My only consolation is that his engine—like donating a heart—likely went to a Jaguar in need. The stereo system—like a kidney—went to my brother’s family. Continue reading
Letter from the Editor: Talking Out of My Pie Hole by Lisa Montagne
Anne Frank wrote in her diary during World War II, “I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.” I have to agree. There is a lot of misery in this world, no matter who you are or where you live. Yes, we all have to deal with the crap that life sends us, and we should make it a mission to help others deal with theirs, but who are we not to enjoy the beauty in the physical world that remains around us? From glorious sunsets on the horizon, a daily gift from nature, to a beautifully wrought piece of furniture, gloriously rendered painting, or carefully composed bite of food, the work of loving human hands, the material world is ours to enjoy. It seems ungrateful not to.
If you asked me, say 10 years go, if I were a materialistic person, I’d have said absolutely, categorically not. No way. Happiness comes from within, from relationships with others, and from doing good for others. I still firmly believe this with no doubts, despite many set backs. But, I now have a slightly modified point of view, which goes something like this: Life is short, and it should be savored—morsel-by-morsel. Continue reading
A sneak peak at Archive 405 Vol. 3: The Relationships Issue
What happens when you can’t remember a person’s name? The Name Game
I’ve been told that if I want to figure out my stripper name (and who doesn’t?) just use my childhood pet’s name in combination with the name of the street that I grew up on. The result: Kitty Rowland. Not half bad. If I wore the right outfit, some people might buy it if I introduced myself with “Hi! My name is Kitty Rowland.” The truth is, though, that even if my name were Kitty Rowland, it would not be any easier for people to remember than Lisa Montagne.
According to psychologist Jeremy Dean, there is research confirming that remembering names is difficult for everyone. Jill Speigel, author of How to Talk to Anyone About Anything, says that “everyone struggles with remembering names. When we first meet someone we’re taking in so much visually and emotionally. They say their name, but it’s up there floating in our heads.” Speigel adds that many common names, like Chris, Joe, Jill, or Amy, all “tend to blend together.” As a result, while we may recognize a person’s face the next time we see him, his name has taken a low priority in our brain’s information processing system—which is, it turns out, completely normal for just about everyone. Continue reading
After high school, everything changes for most people. Even if a young person stays near home to go to college or to work, daily life no longer takes place entirely in the safe arenas of school, home, friends, and familiar environments. A person may be required to, or choose to, move out of her parent’s home, and many of her friends may leave for college, move or simply fade away. Students who go away from home to college undoubtedly experience the most severe uprooting, but for them, there is often some refuge provided by the college community. But, whether a person stays near home or goes to another city, it is very challenging to replace the built-in community that exists for most Americans throughout the usual school years.
It is easy to become isolated in urban and suburban areas where no built-in and consistent communities exist just outside a person’s door. Continue reading
The Multi-Tasking Dancer by Lisa Montagne
This was originally a guest blog at atomicballroom.com.
By the same author: “5 Reasons Everyone Should Learn to Dance”.
The other night, on a pleasant summer evening in Southern California, I was out social dancing at a Swing event. There was a wealth of lovely, willing leads. The band was exuberantly playing some loungey swing classics, like “Fly Me to the Moon,” “Mack the Knife,” and “Something’s Gotta Give”—then, suddenly, like an unexpected but welcome cool rain, there was a Waltz.
A male Swing lead, a long-time acquaintance of mine, looked at me and said, “What the heck is that?”
“That, kind sir, is a Waltz,” I replied with no little amount of enthusiasm. I waited expectantly, but he just looked discouraged, tinged with a trace of disgust, and he walked away. It was like when my grandmother used to shake her head in exasperation at what the world was coming to when Madonna pranced around in her steel-studded underwear. Continue reading
This article was written for archive405.com, an online arts and culture magazine. Vol. 1: We’re Doomed! An exploration of dystopia and utopia, August 2013.
Shesha Marvin of Atomic Ballroom
There is so much to be afraid of—gun violence in the streets, impending hikes in interest rates, and rampant poisoning of the environment. If you live in Southern California, like I do, you also have to worry about earthquakes, wildfires, and—apparently—sharknadoes. According to the talking heads on television every morning, I shouldn’t even bother getting out of bed. Dystopia is here, it has been here, and it is here to stay. The nation is a big drama queen, and that is never going to change, no matter how much therapy it goes through.