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The Projects

21 Aug

Updating The Projects via reblogging the initial post.

Writing Odds n Ends


The Projects

By L. Stewart Marsden


Sometimes, just before waking, in that twilight of dream-sleep and consciousness, a thought or image or story or scenario will flit through my mind. Like a glint of light reflected off some shiny object. It’s there, and it’s gone.

Two thoughts – spawned perhaps by subconscious mulling over Charlottesville and the last several years of police action.

What if a person convicted of a hate crime – who had served the time – was paroled with the stipulation that he/she (mostly he, is my guess) served lots of hours working in the neighborhoods of the very people the hate crime was committed against? Impossible? I say this because on CBS evening news, a former member of a hate group was interviewed. This person, Christian Pitulini (sp?) joined a hate group at the age of 14, and quit a few years later to…

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On the Savannah

16 Nov


On the Savannah

By L. Stewart Marsden

On the Savannah
Death stalks and waits
In every field of grass
Under each watering hole
For the unwary
Or the weak
Or those left behind;

The kind of strife that daily
Rises in the east and never sets;

Jaws and teeth led by smell and struggle and blood

Yet amply gives and hides in such a way
That prey pray for another day
To continue
And thrive
On the Savannah.

Stop, Look, and Listen

31 Aug

By L. Stewart Marsden


I have a friend whose maxim was/is, “I only want to hear Good News.” I can relate. Living in the mountains, simply turning off the TV and selectively scrolling down FB is one way of avoidance.

In truth, this ostrich-like (they don’t really bury their heads) behavior is necessary sometimes, especially in an age when news of any kind is instant, and sometimes, as it is happening. During major election years, the clamor worsens. Can’t say I recall it ever being so bad. Perhaps the frustration of so much bad news generated by bad things is the reason for the spike in ancestral origins.

When I was in college in the late 60s/early 70s, three major events converged, rocking the previous post-war rebuilding — Vietnam, Civil Rights, and Women’s Rights. Oh, maybe four, if you consider abortion. With each, lines of clear demarkation existed, but each became mixed, as with a Ven diagram. The anger and protest and backlash generated ran over those “clear” lines.

How was communication handled then? Kent State. Watts. Selma.

My generation caught in the spin cycle of this accumulated dirty laundry. Casualties were sever. It’s disheartening to realize that very little in the way of war, civil rights and perhaps womens rights has moved in quantum positive steps. Abortion? Well, I’m not going there.

People on both sides of nearly any issue are clenching fists and jaws over those in leadership, to whom we have abdicated the responsibility of fixing our social problems. Obama — fix it, please. Hillary, Donald — fix it, please.

That’s why I find Thoreau’s comments about government so apt. The less, the better. None, even better. Government doesn’t fix anything.

Like it or not, you and I — on an individual person-to-person basis — are the conduits of change and improvement. And disorder, as well. It’s a choice.

So I say each individual has got to come to the place where each is willing to stop, look, and listen. Remember that phrase about crossing the street? Otherwise we step headlong into traffic that results in carnage and destruction.

Maybe we should don those bubble suits and converge on a huge field, bumping and bouncing off one another physically until exhausted, and then stop, look, and listen.

On Bachelorhood

28 Aug

On Bachelorhood

Or, the strong case for being single

By L. Stewart Marsden

“I can live alone,
if self-respect, and circumstances require me so to do.
I need not sell my soul to buy bliss. I have an inward treasure born with me,
which can keep me alive if all extraneous delights should be withheld,
or offered only at a price I cannot afford to give.”

— Charlotte Brontë

My dad, hard-working and successful as the world judges, often complained that society had gotten retirement backwards.

“We should be retired when we are young,” he contended. “When we are physically and mentally able to enjoy travel and explore the world. Not when we are old and feeble, and need walkers and oxygen tanks to go from here to there.”

That sentiment came as a result of going to South America, and because of his back and his nagging bursitis, he little enjoyed the trip.

Of course, he was in the generation that built wealth over time, not the current fast-food mentality work generation that hops onto new tech ideas and retires before age 30.

He had a point. Anyone much over the age of 65 knows that travel baggage now comes packed with more pills and prescriptions than changes of clothing.

What about marriage, then?

I believe we are headed in a direction which is slowly becoming the reversal of the way it’s always been — or seems to have been.

Get married young. Straight out of high school or college. Have lots and lots of babies to ensure the generations. Grow old and thrive in the mulit-parenthood levels — parent, grandparent, great-grandparent, etc.

Now few jump into long-term anything anymore. Relationships. Marriages. Careers. It’s all based on the feeling and the moment. And when the feelings and the moments lag or worse, so does the relationship. Then, leave the relationship, the marriage, and/or the career.

I want my burger and fries now. Ever see someone pull angrily out of a care line at a fast food place and drive off, tires burning rubber, because of the wait time?

More than half all marriages in America end in divorce.

In my parents’ day, divorce was a dirty word.

Not now. Now it’s a contractual escape clause.

The generations that have grown up with divorce — experiencing its trickle-down effect — are more circumspect. Willing to live with someone for years, they hesitate to commit. Who knows why? Maybe the weight of the “M” word and what they have come to know about it is the reason.

Certainly having babies is no motivation to tie the knot. But I digress.

Women are exploring careers, and having babies is a consideration tabled for a date that is increasingly later in life. Adoption is in fashion (not that I have anything against it, other than there seem to be enough adoptable children who live in America than to go traipsing half-way around the world).

Men are … Well, men are morphing into house-husbandry — taking on domestic duties at a rapid rate of growth.

And as independent a direction as our culture seems to be herding today’s men and women toward, matching and mating remain primal needs. It’s in the DNA.

If you are currently a bachelor, you know how it is. Everyone — but you — is either married, living together, or dating.

Bachelor = odd man (or woman) out.

There is now a slug of 50 percent residue from broken marriages — maybe (as in my case) several marriages — that are trying to figure out what the hell to do with themselves.

You women who are widows — who found THAT guy and endured many decades of marriage — know what I’m about to say. For you, the habit of marriage and being in a relationship is tantamount to life support. There are a few widowers out there, and my understanding is by and large women dominate this group numerically.

I’ve been married the majority of my adult life — about 40 years. Not to the same person, but pretty evenly split between two exes. That’s becoming more common, as I understand it.

Fear of solitude

EVERY person who has exited a relationship — regardless of good, bad, or indifferent — comes to the realization he or she knows NOTHING about how to enter into a new relationship. This is knee-jerk, as is that desperate need to be back into a relationship. Never mind whether being single could be a good thing. It’s like a non-swimmer being caste into water and being told “Swim!” The alternative is either learn to swim immediately, or sink and die.

Add to the dilemma that at every turn, family, friends and others are constantly assessing your singleness as bad, and their solution is quick, find somebody! Or sink and die.

If singleness and bachelorhood (both genders) is not stigmatic, why in the name of Cupid are there so many online dating/matching sites and services? And why is the viewing nation so preoccupied with such “reality” shows as “The Bachelor,” or “The Bachelorette,” or “The First Kiss?” Does anyone in their right mind think that Dirk is going to have a lasting relationship by an elimination game where every courtesan is an emotional wreck by the time the season is completed?

Who watches this stuff?

Then I realize that, sometimes, when channel-surfing, I do.

Oh the shame of it all!

The urge to conquer and commit wanes with diminishing libido

It’s one of those inverse relationships that is sad, but true. Hence Viagra. When you are a young buck, you have thoughts of sex every seven seconds. Or that’s what I heard. I don’t know how they figured that out. As time passes, I suppose that changes to seven minutes, then seven hours, seven days, seven months …

I heard a joke about the frequency of sex in a marriage:

  • Tri-weekly
  • Try weekly
  • Try weakly

Doesn’t apply to Hugh Hefner, probably.

When you are in your late 50s or 60s, your primal concerns revolve more around getting up in the morning, and less about getting it up.

I could go on. But I’ll spare you. You’re welcome.

We are called the Mature. Not old or elderly anymore. Mature. I can remember my mother wondering will I ever mature and get out of my adolescence.

Well, Ma — I’m now mature!

For those 50 percenters who stayed married and grew old together, they’ve assimilated to a lifestyle that includes the other. Whatever the day’s activities are, they do it together. In fact, there is some research to suggest the individuals of a long-term relationship begin to physically resemble each other.

The rest of us, now mature and with no one that even remotely resembles us, are left to contend with that urge, albeit socially manufactured, to re-mate and avoid being conspicuously single.

My question is why?

My grandmother’s husband died a month before I was born. She remained a widow into her late 50s, when she met my Step-Grandfather and they married. It was complicated enough. He had a law practice that specialized in title searches. She was a good Norwegian-stock woman with a sharp eye, tongue and wit. And she could cook reasonably well. He brought to the marriage an adopted son, who must have had major Native American stock genetically. All of my grandmother’s kids were married with children.

The dynamic — as mundane as it was — still bordered on challenging.

Today, with multiple divorces and remarriages and re-divorces and children and step-children and dogs and cats and lifestyles to merge? Whew!? It’s damn daunting!

So, again … Why?

Why not embrace bachelorhood (both genders) and decree that no longer shall “mature” single folk be referred to as spinsters, or worse?

After all, 70 is the new 50, right?

Read Brontë’s quote again. Makes sense.

Therefore, ergo, thus … I’m on the verge of declaring myself a permanent bachelor. After all, with 40 years of marriage already under my belt, I deserve the niceties, privacies and uncomplicated benefits of living alone.

And, yes, I’ll embark on that quest just as soon as I check to see who my weekly online matches are (which is another subject altogether).

Free Loveseat

14 Aug


Free loveseat for the taking. U-pick-up. Some assembly required.


image image

Ignorant People

20 Jul

image   image


Ignorant People

By L. Stewart Marsden

With acknowledgement to The Beatles

Ignorant people
Stumbling about while they shout in the wind all the day
What do they say?

Ignorant people
Pointing a finger while lingering close to the pit
Just full of sh*t

All the ignorant people
Where do they all come from?
All the ignorant people
Where do they all belong?

Ah, look at all the ignorant people …
Ah, look at all the ignorant people!


“Stupid is as stupid does.” — Forrest Gump

The Best! Valentine EVER!

12 Feb

Ahhh…it’s that time of year again!

Writing Odds n Ends

The Best! Valentine EVER!

By L. Stewart Marsden

In the many years I have given and received valentines, there remains one gift that will forever come to mind on this auspicious occasion.

It was my freshman year at college. I’m not going to tell you how many years ago, but suffice to say it was a few years ago.

A girl I was dating at the time and I planned to spend Valentines Day by going to the fraternity I was pledging. That in itself is a story. I firmly believe that the classic film, Animal House, was modeled after Delta Pi Zeta, but I understand a west coast location was the honored frat.

My date, let’s call her Linda, and I went out to the local hamburger joint where the absolute best hamburgers ever were made. Two slices of Texas toast nicely browned, spread with Miracle Whip on…

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Match dot com and the Tortoise

21 Jan

Match dot com and the Tortoise

By L. Stewart Marsden


I subscribed to Match dot com today,

and immediately rued the decision.

Is it like admitting defeat?

Is it like becoming a teacher and not a doer?

Is it like casting a line in the deep sea waters off North Carolina

and hoping beyond hope that somehow, some wandering tuna will bite the bait

and jerk and firmly set the hook?


Who is hooking whom?

Perhaps I’m the tuna, and all I want is some comfort food,

and someone to stroke the nape of my neck

and say, “There, there. It will all be okay?”


The biters didn’t fit my “partner” profile.

They were too young, too far away, too eager and ambitious.

They were too scary.


Just a three-month subscription.

The price of a couple of pizzas home-delivered.


But not at all like home-delivery.

Something more ominous, more creepy.


And I was worried I was the creepy one.


The tortoise carries its own protection against attack.

It can withdraw its feet and tail and head at a moment’s notice.

It can survive for more than 150 years.

What’s so wrong with that?


And I subscribed to today.


Copyright © Lawrence S. Marsden, 21 January, 2016

The Worth of a picture

22 Nov

The Worth of a picture

By L. Stewart Marsden


A thousand words with you
are worth far more than one mere picture;
the timbre of your voice;
the spark of your eyes;
the warmth from your near skin;
the smell of your cologne;
the laugh of your response . . .
all dimmed and flat on matted memory.

The photo somehow doesn’t do.
And so I ask: one thousand words more with you.

Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 22 November, 2015

Hallow’s Eve

30 Oct

Ah, the witching hour has arrived!

Writing Odds n Ends

Hallow’s Eve

By L. Stewart Marsden

The great horned owl has gone a-fowling

Flapping through the misted forest;

In the distance, wolves a-howling —

Baying at the ripened moon;

Soon will come the ghouls and goblins

Seeking treats, but full of tricks;

Moaning, groaning – set on frightening

All who offer scrumptious mixes;

All who open up their door

To these creatures of the moor

That want to bite and tear and chew

Those chocolate morsels filled with goo

And cram their craws with sweet and sour

Until the church bells ring the hour

That Hallow’s Eve has come to past

And ghouls and goblins do at last

Trudge back again to murky swamps

And toppled castles and other haunts

Until the owl flaps once again,

And lonely wolfish howls begin

To fill the air on risen moon,

But, not too soon –

The graved gray sleepers again arise


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