Mary Jane's Shoes

Mary Jane's Shoes

Musings of one person among many. Not exceptional in any way, as with all, I have exceptional experiences and varied reactions to those events. Mine is one of many life stories and how I manage and cope with the events which make my life my own, I attempt to put forth by way of my writings.

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Evening’s Final Stop ~ A Love Letter for New Orleans

April 11, 2014


Headphones cup my ears.
A ballad’s bridge crescendos
as a voice sings of moments
which have gone sometime ago,
and tears fall today more than usually they might.
30,000 feet above the curved line where earth and sky do meet,
amidst the clouds I leave a city.
This City has brought me to full emotions, varied.
So much depth within each to me was carried.


Consuming the City is,
as a potent perfume,
one that reaches beyond scent
to affect all senses.
Life breathes from her iron, brick and wood.
Palpable are the heartbeats through song and word.
I do not close
any window


as I fear missing the intricacies of herself she gifts.


Senses live with intensity.
Each sound and sight invades my space.
Each builds to a level that seems of dreams
and vivid nightmares.
The ill-fated of dreams,
though they are somewhat rare
expose an earthy character,
expose just enough of self
to keep
in this humid air,
to keep my living fair,
to strip me down to truth,
to see me living bare.


She is beauteous in her wear, sumptuous in her offerings. She is a life of immense flair, decadent, delicious. She is true.


As landing gear is released from the belly of this high flyer,
it is abruptly felt though not heard this last flight home.
This bird, she touches tarmac
and rolls to her cage, her final evening stop.
My City trip, in the same moment rolls to its end.
Though I am full with memory,
a tear does dampen my cheek.
As strangers stir with a hurriedness
the noise is not heard by me,
as headphones cup my ears.




Travel By Rail

March 27, 2010 2 Comments

My husband and I drove to Florence, SC. (I like to refer to it as Firenze. Florence, Italy is actually Firenze, one of my favorite cities.) I boarded for a trip to D.C., more specifically Alexandria, Virginia. Given the seat assignment of 11.

This was an interesting ride, different from the previous when I traveled with one or both young daughters. Eight hours alone on a train, I spent most thinking, pondering, reading, and enjoying the peace, and relaxing without my fear of being in the air on a plane. Extraordinarily fun to have so much time to let the mind wander. A more fun time was had watching people move through their travel day.

A young man, from Europe I assumed for various reasons, was seated next to me. He actually had already taken up residence in my seat next to the window at a previous boarding. He was “plugged in”, set up and comfortable. I did mention that it was my seat. He just looked “surprised” and I did not force the issue. Besides, now I could move freely about without the often used words, “Pardon me”. This young man wore almost all black; his backpack as well was dark with the exception of the bright Lufthansa airline tag hanging from its zipper. I was a tad curious as to his story. Okay..nosy. During our trip, he watched several movies on his laptop with ear buds. One of his selections was a movie about Hitler; the name escapes me at this time. It was subtitled in English, so I was able to watch a few minutes on the sly. (Am sure he knew.) He never spoke a word except when he needed to say “Excuse me.” He would then leave his window seat. His accent was barely audible, but existed.

Across the aisle, one seat up, a young woman sat continuously busy with her hands. What struck me initially about this person was her demeanor. She moved in a confident manner, very comfortable in her own skin while performing her tasks. She did not lean away nor turn her work so as to keep it private. This is the direct opposite of the way in which I roll. Privacy at all costs when creating and “trying to” creatively emote. I wondered about her field of study, graphic design, photography, painting….as her first order of business, beyond boarding, was to pull out a travel sketch pad. I couldn’t tell her subject; her right hand was covering the sketch. As she completed her 20-30 minute drawing, her hand slowly dropped to the bottom of the page. Her art had moved in that direction and now I was privy to the work. A sketch of a train was exposed, not the somewhat modern version in which we rode, but a very old train. It was a train of dreams, of coal, of real travel by rail. She wrote few words beneath this drawing that I could not read of course. I sincerely wanted that piece of art. I am not sure if I admired the work itself, or if I was drawn to its simplicity or the nostalgia it evoked. Possibly I was drawn to the work due to the air and attitude in which she created it – so freely.

No longer is it March 12th. It is March 18th and I am a day late. Yes, I missed my train yesterday. The departure of train #89 did not consider the fact that I might not awaken at the correct time. Thank God for my parents, I might have slept long enough to worry many in my family. I am highly experienced at missing flights, or changing my mind at the very last minute. I am even a pro at not getting off at my intended destination. On one particular trip home to DC, the call was made that we would be making our next stop in Alexandria within minutes. I gathered myself and my two very young daughters, our things, and headed to the door at one end of the car. Another woman was waiting with me. Our door didn’t open. Yes, there was panic on all of our parts; yes there was a bit of sweating and cursing on all of our parts. Mind you the cursing was from the two adults. In disbelief I saw through the window my Mom’s jaw drop, as the train left Alexandria and headed to DC’s Union Station. This was in the early 80’s when cell phones were the exception and not the rule. I do not know how we found each other, but the sight of my Mom was one of the most comforting sights I have ever seen. Thanks Mom for saving me!

I love trains, despite the unplanned events. Those from Charleston to Washington and those from Firenze to Rome. Train travel is real travel. I see the pine forests and swamps; I do not fly over them. I see the ocean and the mountains, at eye level, not from above.

My trip is winding down. Moving back into real time, I am holding on to the swaying and rocking as we move over the tracks. I am thoroughly enjoying my time at the cafe cart, actually seated at a table, moving through the North and South Carolina lowcountry. I had, on this portion of the trip, been seated next to teenage girl purposefully seated away from her parents. Their discussions became a bit heated so I made the move to the cafe cart, lunch in mind as well to be honest. Before I excused myself, I heard the “daughter” remark. Living away from the big city would never be an option for her. Her parents agreed. I have been blessed with the luxury of living in many towns of various populations. I actually felt sorry for this near-adult that did not know what life was really hidden within the trees that she couldn’t see beyond.

So here I am in the cafe cart, people watching. Living for several hours in a confined space is quite a lesson in the varied lives of all of us. It is a very refreshing lesson. The conductors tell stories, tease the children in a friendly manner and joke. They tell many jokes as they sip their coffee or Pepsi. I feel lucky to be a part of their conversations. A single traveler reads her copy of the Washington Post, pushing her glasses into place every few minutes. Her blunt cut gray hair and black suit say business to me. I wonder about her personal story as well.

To be on the receiving end of the visible, audible cues of others, and those of the train as well, is quite a gift. The touch of seat backs as I wobble down the aisle, the smells of perfumes, baby formula, smoke lingering on clothes, these all add to the creation of a portrait that evokes a happiness in me. It is a satiated, calm, complete happiness.

I think I will soon be booking another trip by rail.

A One Day Selfish Bucket List

December 7, 2009 2 Comments

Living one day that could be sublime in all ways, perfect, although nothing is so, is a thought recently very much on my mind. Aging does lend itself to review, a review of experiences had or not. It leads one to reevaluate. It demands thoughts of what one wants to do with the remaining hours, days, one hopes to be gifted, but, there exist too many choices. If I had the privilege of making such decisions it would be difficult. In which activities would I take part if only given one perfect day?  With whom would I surround myself?  In what place would I spend my one perfect day. Too many choices.  As this is the case, I have decided to push the boundaries of my basic, average, magical day. It shall be a day where anything can take place. 

My definition of this begins with time allotted. A 24-hour day doesn’t cut it. This perfect day would be a day that would be longer than the 24-hour rotation of this world in respect to the sun. The earth would spin more slowly on its axis. As well, I would be able to handle an extremely lengthy time period without sleep. 

This magical day would include the outrageous, such as meeting and personally learning from the likes of Stephen Hawking, Lincoln, Vermeer and Picasso, Twain, Emerson and Thoreau, Ansel Adams and Bernini, Socrates and Plato. Books would line the walls of nearly every room, and I would finish reading all. This is an unavailable set of circumstances, but I AM relying on a type of voodoo here.

The man I have spent the last 44 years loving would without question be by my side. My children and their significant others, my parents and siblings, grandchildren, extended family, and true friends would all be a part of this unique and extraordinary day. Each member of the entire clan and all the calabash cousins would find themselves laughing at someone’s comments or antics throughout this time.  All would indulge in deep, hearty laughs that reveal an intense happiness, one which resides beneath the surface reaction to jokes and escapades. (By the way, when I leave this place I want all to celebrate, to laugh.  Those that show are to be in brightly colored clothing.  Maybe a second line parade would be a part of this departure ceremony.)

Music.  Music would be omnipresent.  Music would be in walking surround sound, be everywhere, as if theme music in a movie.  It would automatically change depending on the mood of the moment.  Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, George Harrison, David Koz, and Andrea Bocelli would be represented. B.B. King, Van Morrison, Frank Sinatra and Irma Thomas, their voices would fill the air. Allison Krauss, Ingrid Michelson and of course some Hawaiian music would waft between the leaves of my chosen venue. Johnny Cash, Patsy Kline and Luciano Pavarotti would stream from the rivers. The list of music desired has no end. I will stop trying to run through it all. 

Those that would be so inclined would burst into song and/or “bust a move” when the spirit moved them to let go. I would be very much in that company. It would be a “day” that would saturate the senses.

My hands would hold a manual camera, or two, heavy, sturdy with great presence. My fingers would press the cool shutter release and the lighting would always be correct for whatever effect I would be trying to achieve. The compositions of said photographs would be very much to my liking. (I would be a natural at the art of composition.)

Where to spend this longer than twenty-four hour day?  My initial choice has to be on the Ligurian or Amalfi coasts of Italy, where mountains are visible from the shore of the Mediterranean and cliffs drop into the sea.  To speak Italian fluently, yes that would be a must.  French too. Wait a minute… the islands of Hawaii would have to be an included locale. Maybe in my vision of the perfect day I would move from Italy to Hawai’I as Samantha relocated often in the sitcom Bewitched. Strong floral scents, trade winds, notes from ukuleles, getting dirty hiking to waterfalls, all of this could be experienced.

May I mix this with incredible Italian food, New Orleans’ cuisine and a visit to Firenze’s Uffizi Gallery?  Drop in on Jackson Pollock painting and Degas during the time he lived in New Orleans? Throw in horseback riding along the shore, in Italy or Hawaii. Add playing with puppies and safaris on the African continent.

If it is my one-of-a-kind, magical day, I suppose I can dream as I please.  Sometimes dreams do come true.  Sometimes parts of dreams do. Granted I have pushed an impossible set of circumstances into a day.  Remember, I did add much time to what we call a day. In my day of hocus-pocus, it would not be impossible to the enjoy what is my entire list.

Oh yes, I would want to zip down to Peru and the Andes, Brazil’s Amazon and Patagonia. Namibia and Botswana would take some time also. (In my favorite day fantasy, I would just extend the time allowed, once again. To do this is an odd take on the “one of the three wishes is three more wishes” scenario.) A flight into Bhutan, home of the happiest people on earth, would be part of the finale. I would listen to local traditional music and wear traditional clothing from everywhere I travel. Do you think my entire family and my friends would willingly go for all of this? 

This perfect day has evolved into a selfish bucket list.  I suppose everyone’s perfect day list is for the most part selfish. In my list, all would be joyful, content, and healthy. I would witness and be a part of many hugs and much hand-holding.  No loved one would feel even a short moment of loneliness. Once again, I will reiterate that laughter and MUSIC would fill nearly each moment.

As I wrote the last sentence in the paragraph above, I realized some moments I would want silence from humans and anything they designed. I would hear only the simple, yet still complex, earth-born utterances which put my mind at ease. The surf, bird’s songs ~ doves cooing in the morning, wind through palm fronds and live oak leaves, all of these would be in attendance.

My selfish dream day.  I have been fortunate to have experienced a few entries on my list.  Some I will most likely not, and definitely not with all those I love.  I will keep an open heart and willing mind in any regard.  Who knows?  Maybe in this fantasy of a perfect day(s), I will pick up the violin again. Maybe I will sing outside the privacy of my own home and car. Perhaps everything would be perfect, my imperfectly perfect.

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