Thursday, July 18, 2013


“Whaddya want?”  Stephen, then boyfriend, asked anticipating my birthday.

“I wanna spend the afternoon horseback riding and picnicking under a tree.”

Two friends and I drove up to a rundown house on a small spread just outside of Los Angeles.  To the left, a rusty pickup sat on browning grass; to the right, two bored horses stood in a corral.  The pickup got my attention.  Tied to the driver side mirror was a dark bay mare shimmering in the sun like chocolate brown quartz, her mane and tail black as onyx, her compact body that of an American Quarter.  She was calm as I cupped her velvet chin in my hands and brought her nose up to mine.  I marveled at the fragrance of her breath, grassy and warm.  Then I saw the birthday card hanging from her halter.

Nothing is remembered about the card but the recognizable handwriting inside.  “She’s yours.”   I looked at the landowner, searching his weathered cowboy face.  He nodded a yep-she’s–yours nod.  I looked at my friends who smiled a yep-she’s-yours smile.

“She’s mine?” I whispered not wanting to spook the possibility.  “Really, I can ride her anytime, really?”

I was reined in by Vicki’s impatience.

“Really!  Let’s ride!”

We rode all day.  Coco was quirky as it turned out.  Letting her out on a straight path and oblivious to an oncoming sharp left, she spontaneously took it in full gallop.  That I wasn't riding air that first day was a sign of real cowgirl status, in my opinion.  Attempting to stroke her between her ears, she’d jerk her head back, the first time catching me in the teeth.  A result of macho cowboy discipline, I imagined.  She once galloped from one end of a wire fenced run to the other where I breathlessly stood hoping she would stop short.  She ran right into the fence catching her leg through an opening.  She panicked trying to extricate herself.  Heart racing, I lamely assisted in guiding her weighty leg out.  She suffered a gash necessitating vet visits and all-consuming TLC.

An actress, I often avoided or arrived at auditions smelling horsey.  It must’ve been my contagious elation for work came.  When there was none, I was applying medication, changing wraps and massaging Coco’s leg.  I was currying, brushing, combing, toweling, picking the debris out of her hoofs and walking her as she healed.  I was cleaning tack and inhaling leather and leather oil.
I was on a continual sensory high.  My agents loved me, Stephen spoiled me, my cat adored me and Coco was finally ready to ride.

It was bright and cool – perfect weather.  Led from her stall, I backed Coco into the grooming and saddling area where two posts were provided to cross tie her.  She was groomed till she looked show worthy.  With a beard and hair growing out of her ears?  Hardly!  I got my clipper.  Beard gone.  Improvement.  I grabbed a stool.  Ears were next.  I aimed the clipper.  Cross ties allowing, she jerked her head back.  I massaged the clipper up her neck which she liked and again aimed for her ear.  She jerked her head back again, moving her body away from my hand used for balance.  I fell off the stool and under her.  Was it a kick?  Was it the fall?  I don’t know, but the result was catastrophic.

Escaping from under a horse’s hooves is like trying to escape from under a weed whacker.  When I finally crawled half way out, I saw three men approach.  They pulled me free.  I told them my leg might be hurt.  Two created a cross armed seat and the third placed me in it.  Secure, I looked down as my right knee gave way with an audible snap making the same left angle that Coco made that first day I rode her.
“Put me down!”

They carefully lowered me.

I put my good left leg under my mangled right leg for support.  The memory of pain is indelible even now as is the emergency room of Burbank’s Saint Joseph Medical Center.
It took three surgeries, endless physical therapy, a knee that is cosmetically unacceptable and a reversal in the trajectory of a promising career.

I never rode Coco again.  I never blamed Coco ever.  The fault was mine, the Brooklyn girl with dreams of being a cowgirl.

A friend took over selling Coco to a family he said would care for her.  I never believed him.  I have nightmares to this day mingled with the memories of her smells: a bouquet of sweet breath, sweat, the leather of her saddles and the hay and oats and horse manure. 

And I have a picture of her in the height of the California sun dancing like a wild spirit.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

ANOTHER DAY - A stab at poetry

The grey blue color of winter skies,
And woolen clothes hiding flaccid thighs;
Of stop and go and pump and grind ‘em,
Of shallow youth and callous mayhem;
Of guns like coins in pockets hidden,
In yards of schools where once forbidden;
Jackhammers drilling and corporate shilling,
The waters flowing with toxins killing;
Of shedding off the skin of daylight,
And stresses making heart and lips tight;

Of flipped on switches birthing squares yellow,
The lives beyond seeking moments mellow;
Of calls from strangers with garbage to sell,
In hours of respite where persons dwell;
Of times despairing and sound bites swearing,
That life is ending and no one’s caring,
While night time shadows in bedrooms massing.
Yet one more day in a life that’s passing.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


“Do you have children?” I’m always asked by new acquaintances as if having them was the prerequisite for a future friendship.

“No!” I always answer with an exclamation point and then offer up the response to what I sense is a sympathetic look.

“It was by choice not by a physical precondition,” I add which usually rests the subject. 

It was in a conversation with my friend, Mimi, who is also childless, that I was reminded of another response that those of us who are voluntarily without receive:  "You were smart."  For some reason, this response astounds me and I return it with a smile and, finally, a change of subject.

Smart had nothing to do with it.  I just never wanted any.  Not that I don’t like children.  I do.  I really do.  And I wonder at those who don’t.  On the other hand, I have pushed the limits of anger management when parents let their kids act like unrestricted, entitled, head-banging brats. 

There was never the desire to procreate.  To show the world I live in that I could be the ultimate woman by getting pregnant and delivering to society the perfect little me or combination little me and impregnator was never a goal.  And there was never that clock ticking that I hear so many women talk about or read about.  The only clock that determines what I do is the digital clock on my bed side table or cell phone.  And as there is no amusing game app called Babies with Friends, I remain thankfully childless.  Well, no app could make me pregnant at this time in my life anyway.

There was also the approximate nine months of incubation before the little angel was born that never attracted me.  There were times when I envied the illusion of beauty that a pregnant woman engendered in loved ones.  Though I assume it is just that, an illusion.  I just imagine the nine months of feeling like I’ve gluttonously eaten more than my healthy share and wanting to give out a good belch to relieve myself. 

Then there’s the water breaking and the pushing and the pain and the screaming and the prize being delivered.  Then there are the relieved smiles on loved ones’ faces that the prize has all the acceptable fingers and toes and is not suffering from some syndrome or something.  And the photos and the congratulations and the sleepless nights and the dirty diapers and the sitters and the planning for their education before they form their first word.  And then there are the sacrifices to be made – or should be made – to raise that child to meet their potential.  Ah, the sacrifices.

Sacrifices!  I never felt I could undertake those; make the commitment to give up that which seemed more vital to my happiness.  And yet I had a champion role model to learn how – my mother.  That she went to the edge of sacrificing her true potential to help me meet mine was my undoing as a potential mother and her potential as a fulfilled woman.  There wasn’t a chance that I would want to give up what she gave up for me.  There wasn’t a chance that I could be or want to be so selfless or full of love for her child as she was.  There wasn’t a chance that I’d give up my dreams as she did.

At this point, you’re thinking:  Madly is a cold hearted woman without a vagina and accompanying accoutrement.  And thusly I was also born without the ability to nurture.  And I’m thinking:  You’d be wrong.  And I have a witness list – available on request - to prove you’re wrong.  I declare that I have the ability to nurture.  

I love animals.  I am able to love them more than I can love humans.  They elicit a nurturing impulse in me which is felt towards humans less often.  Is it because animals are voiceless?  Defenseless against human transgression?  Made dependent because of human need or greed?  Is it because it’s not a societal expectation to love animals as we love ourselves?  Is it because humans have disappointed me so often in friendship and in love and in trust?  Is it because animals never have?

That said I now make the case for my nurturing abilities.  It was many years ago when my home had an open door for anything resembling a feline.  There were always two, or three or more cats decorating my home with their silence and grace.  And there was also the random foster or rescue that needed all the TLC a human could offer to send it on its way to a permanent home.  This brings to mind Peter, a Siamese mix male kitten who was rescued with his siblings and mom from under a Thai restaurant.  The mom was ferociously feral and so fixed and released and the kits were adopted but for one – Peter.  This blue eyed, angel faced, seal pointed boy suffered a raging case of Ringworm and a neurological problem affecting his balance.  He was nursed and loved until he found his forever mom who loved him as she would’ve had he been a human child.  By the way, Peter presented challenges upon his release - as it turned out prematurely - by the vet on assurances that his Ringworm was cured.  Soon after arriving at my home, Peter innocently spread it to two out of three of my cats and, with a few scares, to myself.  This turned out to be a chapter in sacrifice as my life turned into an extended medical drama with my bathroom as my ICU.
Let me not forget to mention the rescue of a cat with end stage liver disease.  This little tortie, who was found roaming in obvious great discomfort in front of a friend’s duplex one block over was not going to go it alone.  She wasn’t easy to impress and fought like hell to avoid me.  But I was in my Super Hero “I can’t be hurt” mode and she was mine.  Again, my bathroom became an ICU.  She passed with care and love as all creatures deserve.

And the healthy fosters who became well socialized lovers who found carefully examined families.  And my own kits – a word oddly resembling the word kids – who could not have gotten better care and more love.  And how that love often broke my heart as they left me because they could no longer live their lives without suffering.  And how I look at their carefully taken photos as evidence that nurturing is a cross species ability.  And I remember what my adored granny used to say to me which was repeated by my very much missed and loved mom:  “When I come back, I want to come back as your kit.”  And, you know what?  They did.

There is one more thought before I finish.  I don't suggest that I don't honor those women who brought children into this world and provided a future for it.  I do. I sometimes even envy those who bore children and sacrificed and loved them and raised them to be beautiful and productive, rational and sensitive adults.  I look at some and think what it might've taken from me to do the same.  But at day's end, there is the confidence that I made the right decision and my 17 year old cat, Dolly, nods in agreement.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Have you noticed there’s been a proliferation of semi if not totally unimportant days that we now put on our calendars to celebrate with beer and pretzels, chicken wings and bean salad?  How about bagels and lox?  Or, tacos?

We grow up looking forward to days like Thanksgiving and Christmas because school is out, the cooking scents of turkey and pie fill our nostrils and life seems full of rewards of carefully wrapped packages if we’re good.  But there are holidays when all is needed is a trip to the card shop and a salute to Hallmark, which, by the way, I think has a war room filled with holiday starved, underpaid, lonely and really nice people whose job it is just to create holidays worth a Hallmark card.  And if you're even partially as obsessed with this subject as I've become, click: 

Now, consider the following holidays, all which exist, that must have been on a Hallmark meeting schedule:

Note:  Please be advised to check on the accuracy of the dates as “holidays can land on a specific day of the year, be tied to a certain day of the week in a certain month or follow other calendar systems like the Lunar Calendar as per Wikipedia.  I'll be using Lunar Year 2013 as my guide.  This ain’t easy, folks, and I'll not be held responsible for any cards you buy in error.  


January 4th, National Trivia Day.  Talk about trivial. I always said we take things too seriously.  Actually, I take things too seriously.  And it’s time I celebrated taking trivial things not so seriously.  
January 12th, National Pharmacists Day.  Well, I’m not going to get into this one as my husband’s father used to be a pharmacist.  But, if we’re to be fair, shouldn’t we give medical marijuana distributors equal honors? 

January 24th, Belly Laugh Day.  Seriously!  It’s right there on the Internet.  Of all the unnecessary holidays, this is the one I find most worth celebrating.  Think for a moment.  Think of the greeting card: Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Barak Obama bent over in uncontrolled hysterical laughter, a glass of tea in their hands and streams of tea running out of their nose uncontrollably.  Inside, the words: “Agreement reached on Israeli settlements but liquids will no longer be served at meetings.”


February 2nd, Groundhog Day.
 The scientific community has debunked the reasons for this holiday as hogwash and, as a non scientist, I agree.  Also, as an animal lover I must align myself with the animal rights community and protest the exploitation and humiliation that's visited on the chosen groundhog (known as Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, and Weather Prophet Extraordinary aka Phil) annually for no reason but to bring business into Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.  It seems that’s a good enough reason in a capitalistic society.

February 8th, Boy Scout Day.  Okay, I’ve got a beef with this one for moral reasons.  It's now generally known that they bar atheists and gays.  As I'm one who has found atheism more to my liking and have friended and loved gays, I'm taking the privilege of throwing this day out of consideration for a Hallmark card. Are you listening, Hallmark?

February 9th, Bagel and Lox Day.  Had I known about this holiday sooner, I would've observed it religiously.  From now on, it'll be celebrated by a nice holiday brunch with a side of cream cheese, onions, and sour pickles.


March 12th, Girl Scouts Day.  Well, they do sell cookies.

March 30th, Doctor’s Day.  Okay, what I want to know is when they’re not in the office because they’re in surgery, or going to conferences in Hawaii, are they out celebrating Doctor’s Day?


April 1st, April Fool’s Day.  If anyone buys a card for this day, this day then clearly speaks for itself.  Actually, though it’s not a national holiday, I do think it should be…and a working one.  The holiday should last throughout our Congress’s scheduled sessions.  You know, when they’re not out on a real national holiday or taking a break from their tedious and laborious work.  And just so that this post isn't all fun and games, I just went to Wikipedia and found some April Fool’s Day trivia and I quote: “The earliest recorded association between April 1 and foolishness can be found in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (1392).”

April 9th, Name Yourself Day.  Is Tammin Sursok taken?     


May 9th, Lost Sock Memorial Day.  I hate this day as it brings up very sad memories.


June 19th, Juneteenth Day.  And I’m not even kidding.  I certainly want to be in on this Hallmark creative meeting.

July 1st, Canada Day.  I suggest to David Letterman’s writers, if they haven’t already, to do a 10 Reasons To Celebrate Canada Day because I can’t think of a one other than they are better neighbors than some of mine.

July 14th, Bastille Day.  I, for one, am against celebrating Bastille Day - which as an American, I’m not obligated to do - because this was the beginning of the end for Queen Marie Antoinette, to whom I owe my longing for living in excess.

This is what I'm talking about.


August 1st, Girlfriends Day.  The ability for one to practice friendship is truly a tribute to human interaction considering all the interactive dysfunction there is out there.  This is a worthy card buying day.  

August 4th, Sisters Day.  And Sister’s Day is certainly worth a card.  I don’t have any siblings and have had times when I yearned for one or several.  In this, the value of friendship comes to mind as an alternative to the lack of parental production.  As for the brothers out there, your day is August 9th.   

August 19th, National Aviation Day.  As I hate to travel, comments on this day will be short.  When they lower the excessive air travel ticket prices and start serving peanuts and pretzels again, I might change my mind.  Enough said.  No card!


September 16th, Stepfamily Day.  And as a suggestion to same gender families, if there isn’t one already, I say get on grabbing a day for Same Gender Family Day.  365 may seem like a big number, but in contrast to the national deficit, it’s nothing.

September 27th, Native American Day.  It was impossible to validate the date as this day isn't even celebrated in all states and the ones which do celebrate it celebrate it on different days.  I find this troubling in light of our country’s actions.  And in deference to our fellow citizens, this is a day for which I personally would like to make a card.  Off subject, let me say that many of my relatives and friends know I don’t often buy cards.  I started making them myself when I decided that shopping for a relevant card to celebrate an occasion was driving me mad with frustration and awe at the amount of unremarkable sentiment and humor that was available.  Now, back on subject, consider what the white invaders, Columbus - it is rumored - among them, did to the indigenous people they found upon stepping onto this new territory and up until this day when the first Native American Indian opened their first gambling casino.  I think, in the least, they deserve a real national day.  And a card created by me.  Perhaps it would feature a tribe of really white, blond and braided, blue-eyed folks in leather, feathers and beads on a shore watching the landing of a really red skinned, black haired, brown-eyed guy in a heavy, blousy, belted tunic, tights and a Flying Nun hat followed by his crewmen.  Inside the words as spoken by the red-skinned fellow in the Flying Nun hat and not with the permission of Hal David who wrote them: 

Promises, promises
I'm all through with promises, promises now
I don't know how I got the nerve to walk out
If I shout, remember I feel free
Now I can look at myself and be proud
I'm laughing out loud


October 7th, Madly’s Birth Day.  Give me a little room here.  I think it’s only right that after conceiving and then writing this nonsense, that I be given a day.  And I wish at this time to thank my mother for conceiving me.  I try to live my life well, have no prison record, vote in every election and love animals to distraction.  Of course, I'd have to share this day with June Allyson, Simon Cowell, Yo-Yo Ma, Joy Behar, Vladimir Putin, Desmond Tutu and many more which I'd do joyfully.  I hereby claim rights to October 7th and will accept any and all commercial greeting cards for which I thank you in advance.

October 9th, Leif Erickson Day.  No comment but to say that there’s already a Christopher Columbus Day and I don’t wish to rock the boats on which they came.

October 14th, Columbus Day.  Stay with me here.  Maybe we can recycle the American Indian Day card for this holiday.  Now this is an idea that could very possibly get me an executive job at Hallmark, which, by the way, is a family owned company.  I’m sure they would be delighted with the creative cost savings.

October 16th, Boss’s Day.  I've a faint recollection that there may actually be a Hallmark Boss’s Day card already published.  I imagine, however, during our recent catastrophic recession, the card was pulled from the shelves to be used at a time when personal finances would allow for such an important expenditure.

October 19th, Sweetest Day.  No comment as I’ve been advised to stay away from sweets.


November 15th, Sadie Hawkins Day.  Women should march to make this a national holiday and at the same time honor Al Capp, cartoonist and political satirist.  It's of no importance that Sadie didn’t exist but in the tales about Li’l Abner and Dogpath, USA.  What’s important is she preceded the Woman’s Liberation Movement in throwing off the manacles of passivity in a quest for marital commitment.  This girl deserves a Hallmark card.


Very little to be said about this month as all the days that are holidays do not deserve to be toyed with by me.  Except for:

December 26th, Federal day off for Christmas.  I thought Federal employees had been off all year.

In conclusion, there seems to be an effort to celebrate not only that which is merited but that which is not.  We seem to be a country of folks who like to celebrate even the most inane activities and achievements with little or no regard for reason.  I, myself, like to eat and in that regard, I like days celebrating food.  I was delirious about finding out there was a Bagels and Lox Day.  And in my research, I found that there are several food holidays.  Even a National Taco Day celebrated October 4th.  And at this time, I’d like to make a suggestion:  Move Taco Day to be celebrated the following day after the worthy holiday of Cinco de Mayo.  Imagine two days of tacos and boilermakers.  Are you listening, Hallmark? 

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Don’t you wonder at the arrogance of humanity and the way they swagger over this planet with self-importance?  Don’t you wonder at the ignorant blindness of many who claim to be humans with the ability to formulate and navigate?  Don’t you just wonder?  I do.

I am astounded by the blinders many of us wear in an attempt to make our lives more personally livable.  We close our eyes against our lies and denials all the while building up barriers so that we don’t have to face the obvious.  And we buy self-help books to rearrange what took many of our parents the vital first years of our lives to derange. 

We fill our lives with things - those material things that are bought with our sweat and debt to feel more worthy yet in the end they prove to be worthless.  We go shoulder to shoulder, grabbing and pushing for that sale item that will make us feel better than we do as we try to keep up with those who already have it and still feel like crap.

We lust after famous labels to advertise our value and yet we do so without compensation therefore belittling our value.  Oddly, we fail to see that the only ones getting compensated are the famous names on the labels whose value becomes enriched. 

We seek protective warmth in the pelts of the cruelly killed when there are humane and fashionable alternatives of equal protection.  It’s in the end really a shallow pursuit of fashion and elitist insensitivity to the suffering of countless animals whose lives end in agony.  And yet the wearer is still cold in appearance and in defiance to the crime.

“The earth we abuse and the living things we kill will, in the end, take their revenge; for in exploiting their presence we are diminishing our future.” - Marya Mannes, More in Anger, 1958

We seek food to fill our stomachs from the bodies of farm animals that are treated like insentient product without a life but for what we have provided.  And what we have provided is an assembly line of living creatures exterminated after lives lived in tight cages, crates, and cement floors.  We stretch the necks of geese to daily force feed them for just one highly valued organ that is eaten by only a minority of shallow, self-proclaimed foodies who spread it on bread before reminding themselves of their diets or high cholesterol and sending the rest back. 

We love the landscape of our country and hoot and holler about the superiority of its beauty to any other country, yet we frack into it and cement onto it.  We allow the erection of billboards on every corner and graffiti public transportation with even more advertising.  We deface our mountains and sacrifice our wildlife with the building of communities lived in by those who wished for or insisted on a “view.”  It becomes the untenable conflict of wildlife and their natural means of survival versus the human wild life who deny their own destructive and predatory status.

“The sun, the moon and the stars would have disappeared long ago...had they happened to be within the reach of predatory human hands.” - Havelock Ellis,The Dance of Life, 1923

We join churches and change religions as if they were social clubs and so might be.  We are pulled in by the beauty of stained glass windows strategically allowing in the spiritual light and are entranced by the religious icons meant to welcome us like committees.  We join to belong to a group and are met by standards that are meant to be kept whether we agree or not so as not to be ostracized.  And we tithe for being allowed to belong and for the very thing that should be free – belief.

Lighthouses are more helpful then churches.” — Benjamin Franklin,  author, printer, political theoristpoliticianpostmaster, scientist, musician, inventor,satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat

We social network like Prairie Dogs, counting hundreds/thousands as our friends.  Facebook and Twitter providing us a sense of knowing and being known.  And yet, no one calls and Saturday nights and New Years are spent glued to a computer screen social networking making more friends.

For those who claim to live the life of enlightenment; to whom none of the references made above apply, I say get an agent and write a book.  I probably won’t read it because I despise self-help books by authors I’ve no reason to think are any more enlightened than I am. 

“I do believe in self-help.” – Clint Eastwood, actor, director and man who talks to a chair.