What I Find in 90% of Men’s Dating Website Profiles

“I like to cuddle.”
“I like snuggling.”
“I like all music except rap.”

Turns out snuggling and cuddling are code words for horny. But they don’t even know they’re telling the truth by using “cuddle” or “snuggle.”

The rap reference I don’t understand, really, it’s just seems plain old stupid. Can’t they find something more interesting to say? And why do so many of them say this? Really, I am clueless on this one.

And then there are the guys who put up photos of themselves holding a dead fish. And they are usually the same guys who put up photos of themselves on their motorcycle.

This might need to become condensed into an illustration.

Just sayin’ … Kinda sick of the whole thing

Year of Mindfulness #6: Rock Writing








Rock writing discovered on Old Mission Lighthouse Point.

When I first saw these names and signs (there were dozens of them), I couldn’t discern what some of them were. Most of them looked like hieroglyphics or some ancient language. It wasn’t until I looked through my camera lens that I could recognize most of the words and names. Through the camera lens I also discovered that I’d been looking at some of the words upside down.  At first I felt confused and foolish.  Then I was captivated by the effect of the camera.  And then I started thinking. . .

How we long to be seen. How we yearn for permanence and recognition.
I felt this.
I am here today at this place.

And sometimes with only a subtle shift in point of view – like me looking through my camera’s lens – we can then see what’s really there.

Each day now I take time to see if I can see.  

Year of Mindfulness #4: While Taking Self Portraits for Match


– Unedited photo by mary macgowan, who loves it when a mistake makes magic

Mistakes. Being alive is a messy business. Oh heavens, all day long – plans go awry, change, switch. How to be okay with that?

This photo, where the sun entered the camera lens in an unexpected way, shows me how wonderful mistakes can be. Look at the clarity of good dog Bailey – so beautiful. And Bailey seems to be saying to me: Stop looking at Match! I love you! Me! Here I am! And she is right. Everything I need is here.  

Bailey is right near me all day and sometimes I scarcely stop to notice her. So, yes, I can appreciate a “mistake” that shows me what is true.  I can be such an idiot.

More Overheard Dialogue

counterman talking to customer: oh sure i know walter! we go way back. he’s my cousin!
customer: no way! he’s my best friend!
counterman: (pause)…(typing sounds)….uh . . . he died, didn’t he?

– overheard by redmittengirl . . . You MUST visit her blog it is EXCELLENT: http://toomuchaugust.wordpress.com/2012/08/21/upon/

The Best “Good Dog Bailey” Story Ever

Here is Good Dog Bailey, and below is First Island…

Bailey and I often swim out to First Island. It’s pretty far, right?
So yesterday we swam out there and after a few minutes I couldn’t find Bailey
but I figured she was playing with some dogs who were also visiting the island
and I was chatting with some folks who were there.

When it was time to swim back home, I couldn’t find Bailey girl. I called and called her.

How amazing is this dog?!

She missed me, so she apparently swam back home to find me…….then when she heard me calling her, she swam back to First Island to find me…….then she swam back home with me.

The kisses she gave me!

Such a good dog! Love that girl!
(Lots of exclamation marks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) (See “Miserly With Exclamation Marks” post for explanation!)

Or…(regarding Runaway Truck Ramps)

Call the Department of Transportation

Cancel Mary’s appointment.
Her heart needs to runaway more
and more.
No ramp, please.

So much to love.
The petite pine cone that came inside with a beach towel.
Hafiz and Rumi, who are Joy Clowns.

When her water bottle catches a bit of wind
just for a moment
and says hooooooooooooo.

That she has a cellar door
to slide down.
She hasn’t yet, but with no runaway heart ramp
there’s still a chance.


Beauty in the Decay Series #23

Grinkor took you away last night/you, a prehistoric bird
made of sharp angles and a long pointy beak/you said
no matter how many days you spent there/the date
of your return would always be today/but it was always
tomorrow when I would hide from you, squeezing behind
radiators sometimes even trees/I had something I
needed desperately to protect/so I pressed up against
walls, birds pushing on all sides and that’s how I
came to fly/I had to use my mind, though, to remain aloft
/like you taught me/I said they converted you/but you
wouldn’t come home/I tried to tell my father/but he thought
I was the crazy one/another planet? ha-ha, he’s left you for good,
sweetie/then you found me, so happy you hugged me/
accidentally/stabbed me with your long beak/you panicked,
scratched my legs with your claws/Come home, I cried/I’ll be
dead before you come back/all I had left were wings/
I whirled to the sky/you ran in circles like a chicken/you
were neatly shaving your head and beard/and that’s when
I didn’t know you any more/still, this time I stopped halfway,
my heart beating faster than my thoughts/I sang an aria
somewhere between god and grinkor/and it broke my wings
baby it broke my heart.

– poem and photo by mary macgowan, poem published in 1979 in some tiny literary journal; I never got a copy of it and I now forget its name. Sad. It was my first published poem.

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

He’d Promised They’d Go Out On His Boat

Beauty in the Decay Series #19

A man, keening,
She touched his shoulder:
but it was burlap
wound around
like a scarf;
ropes curled
in workboot shapes;
hot oil steaming –
not a cigarette.
No man, not
begging forgiveness.
Never (was).
A prayer.

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

– photo and poem by mary macgowan

My Ophthalmologist’s Ear

Because it’s not about toasters:

My Ophthalmologist’s Ear


Not the sticking-out type, nice
and relaxed, close to his head
limply hanging there
you know: clitoral
labial, vulvar.
His brown hair
scruffs the tip of each one
a downy freckled bunny.
Look straight ahead,
he says, then glides
his rolling     chair
side    to      side.
Ear.       Ear.       Ear.       Ear.

– photo by mary macgowan.  a previous version of this poem, by mary macgowan, published in The South Carolina Review, Vol 34, #1, Fall 2001

Michael’s Angel, Oh

Michael’s Angel, Oh

I’m lying in bed
levitating instead of sleeping
which is how my body refuses
to sink into these soft wisps
and cotton clouds

and I’m thinking about Jackson
& Cooper, cat & cockatiel, and how Jackson
lies on top of Cooper’s cage
and the normally chatty
and chirpy Cooper gets very quiet

and I see
water, how it’s perfectly
obedient to gravity, the way it seeks
the lowest place and goes there
always, until there’s no room for itself
so many ways to fall
without question or answer

and how yesterday
with quiet compliance
a woman bent over my feet,
buffed my nails, painted a mini
sunny-sky landscape on my toes

and how maybe,
maybe I can inhale my own perfume
in the middle of the night
and I’m Jackson&Cooper&Water

& I’m Michelangelo’s babydoll
with shiny toenails painted all wrong
but exactly right: sun below, flower on top
and a river in the sky

but I can’t stay in here much longer
listening to him chip away
at my marble sky knowing that at any moment
it could all shatter.

– poem and pastel painting by mary macgowan

Water’s Obligation

A waterfall only has a name
while it falls,
A river only has a name
while it runs.
We flee, drop, lose things – so flawed.
But rain rinses our hair
with its passing name, its fresh.
Feel a river glisten your curls
with rippling rivulets.
Water’s unwavering obligation
to gravity,
it finds the lowest place
and goes there always.
Feel yourself flee, freefall;
believe you will be caught.
Strong arms to hold you
safe at wishing well’s end.

White-Eating Husband

White-Eating Husband

I eat only white, so what.
Mashed potatoes, glasses of milk,
vanilla ice cream. It’s good.

She tries not to look
as I pick my way through dinner
greens and yellows pushed to the side.

She says she’s leaving – my tight
roses flutter, an alarming dove slaps
and flaps in my ribcage.

A good trick, roses to doves.
Reckless applause rises
as I eat some red, its burst of sweet.

A white ambulance arrives
and a white-shirted
EMT rushes to my side.

poem and handmade paper by mary macgowan, a previous version of this poem was published in Licking River Review, Vol.30, 1998-99

disaster and bars

disaster bars 2
(must click twice to hear song)

(and my apologies – first post the song attachment didn’t work)

water drips down on graffiti walls
brick and mortar and painted plaster
and walking overhead on your bridge of stars
you hear voices drunk on disaster//on disaster and bars

sizzling in the river // you hear the moon whisper
and still up there on your bridge of stars
voices laugh and drink faster // you hear disaster and bars
you make a bed with your Goodwill coats -so what? who cares?
nobody takin your biography notes

sure, there’s someone out there
and maybe you could ask her, you could ask her
but all those people up there on your bridge of stars
walking home plastered//all you hear is disaster and bars

up there on your bridge of stars
under your sizzling moon
your time will come soon
under your own bridge of stars
it’s all disaster and bars
all disaster and bars

Oil painting and song by Mary MacGowan

Metta Sutta (middle section of)

Wishing: In gladness and in safety,
May all beings be at ease.
Whatever living beings there may be;
Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,
The great or the mighty, medium, short or small,
The seen and the unseen,
Those living near and far away,
Those born and to-be-born —
May all beings be at ease.

Oil painting by Mary MacGowan

Hieroglyphic Ice Melts

First, the ice melts like farm communities

seen from an airplane window.
Is this what it’s like to be in love?

Then come ice hieroglyphics
written by lake life waiting below.

Is this what it’s like to be happy?

Ancient language experts
will be called in to interpret.
I want to understand.
The ice cracks and moans.

Photography and poem by Mary MacGowan

Start A Huge Foolish Project

These spiritual windowshoppers

These spiritual windowshoppers
who idly ask, “How much is that? Oh, I’m just looking.”
They handle a hundred items and put them down,
shadows with no capital.

What is spent is love and two eyes wet with weeping.

But these walk into a shop,
and their whole lives pass suddenly in that moment,
in that shop.

Where did you go? “Nowhere.”
What did you have to eat? “Nothing.”

Even if you don’t know what you want,
buy something, to be part of the exchanging flow.

Start a huge, foolish project,
like Noah.

It makes absolutely no difference
what people think of you.
– Rumi, These spiritual windowshoppers

More clear blue skies


Last night I posted my song “Clear Blue Sky.”  At the time, I didn’t connect it to the day I had just spent with Bob.  An unseasonably light-filled and warm day, we walked bare foot on the sandy beach. Bob picked mint leaves for me and crumpled them slightly – held them out for me to smell.  So tender and minty fresh.  We drank Chardonnay.  We kissed.  And laughed.  A lot.

We acted out the whole song, except for the rain falling from a clear blue sky. [That part happened once when I was alone. It rained for a couple of minutes from what was apparently a perfectly blue sky.]  

Bob and I also watched 5 deer run across the ice-covered lake, past the island, hurrying toward the far shore. And 2 ice fisherman who weren’t afraid, as we were, of falling through the ice.  

We watched the sun sink low like blueberry plants with red leaves.

Clear Blue Sky was fiction.  Bob and I made it true.

I’m holding onto this one.  Tomorrow: a painting of the wintergreen mint.

Once I saw a flock of ducks sitting in a large field in V formation. Not eating, not quacking.  Resting.  Resting.  Sometimes we all need to rest in a field, doing nothing.  [No sleeping in blueberries though!]

Clear Blue Sky

☝PLEASE PRESS PLAY☝ (you can adjust volume, too)

Gave myself a birthday gift: Now I can put my songs up on Plucky Umbrella… ♥




Clear Blue  Sky

Barefoot we break off leaves of mint
soft and sweet they smell like heaven scent
and when we kiss and sigh
it’s love falling from a clear blue sky

Oh we laugh, and sip our Chardonnay
the sun so bright it’s hard to say
just why a rain dropped by
and fell down from a clear blue sky.

And here’s to you, my true (blue) eyed love
and here’s to mystery from up above
and here’s to the fall
that started it all

They say it happens but it’s rare
a cloud so small it’s barely there
and then with a gentle sigh
there’s love falling from a clear blue sky.
– Mary MacGowan

Listen to the End of the Song

Listen To the End of the Song


When you’re driving 

your dusty Jeep 

invite music in 

and in.

Listen and love 

as you go on your way

and when you get there

(to the place where you’re going)

if a song is still playing

put your car in Park.


It’s a love song 

written just for you.

Can you hear it?

Listen and you’ll know.

Follow these instructions

and even your Jeep will be happier,

in need of less repairs.



I always hated King of the Hill –

always felt tense in my gut when King,

sad when not,

and ostracized if I didn’t want to play.

That pattern has followed me through life.

But now, as a tired adult,

when I feel alone and powerless

atop whatever hill I’ve managed to climb,

I secretly long for anyone to join me.

Now, I’m ready to believe there’s more power



– Mark Nepo, Book of Awakening

Please climb on up the hill to join Bailey and me. We can all be Kings and Queens of the Hill together. Okay? Don’t worry. We’ll all fit, we’ll make it work.

Blue Egg Tattoo Dog

Blue-egg tattoo Dog,

Girl and a Red Scarf

ran away from

your house crashing in.

You bite and they

know your Ow.

Beware, Rage Dog:

If you scare us

we’ll sing songs of love

maybe even Kumbayah

and then put you to sleep.

Gas, injection,

bullet to the head.

[Rage is there. Inside all of us. I wanted to put it on paper, look at it, wonder about it.]

current events


Current Events

A man riled up at the gym
about the congresswoman’s
shooting. He says
It’s those hippies
with their goddam body
piercings and long hair
that’s the problem.
Somebody should shoot ’em,
wouldn’t bother me one bit. He
focuses on me
from his sweaty treadmill.
My pony-tailed gray hair.

The dreaded subject
at Charles A. Lindbergh.
My eyes blurred at each
I floated
’til it went away.

Photo is a self portrait taken on a frozen lake during a snow storm. it is not photoshopped or edited in any way.

the pain of music

Every instrument gives pain.

The violinist’s neck – left, left.

The oboe player’s lips buzzing.

The cellist’s back hunched over

glossy carved wood.

We play to give away

one holy moment

from inside the music.

Sore fingertips play lake songs

on a cigarbox ukulele.

– poem and illustration by Mary MacGowan

Dating Strangenesses #1

I got divorced about 10 years ago and have been dating on and off for 9 years.  Over the next few months I’ll occasionally introduce you to some of the doozies.  They are all true stories.

I affectionately call this guy My Vampire Spotter.

Our first (and only) date, flowers, a Porsche. During an expensive dinner out, he nonchalantly tells me that he sees Vampires on every corner – he was very clear that he was speaking literally.  The Vampires had red glowing eyes. I stayed through the meal; I shouldn’t have.  Still, nothing happened.  I got home safe.

I remember the music he played in his car, devoid of feeling, techno. I remember the rip in the leather passenger’s seat in his car. I don’t remember his face.  It was only later that I realized the goofball got it wrong.  Vampires don’t wait on street corners. Those are boogey men, aren’t they? Vampires wait in coffins, don’t they?

Please….help Mildred and Mabel

I thought they were girls but it turns out they are boys! Now they need new names. I will consider all suggestions.  

Their wee personalities: Mabel likes to ring the shiny bell much of the day, and sometimes aggressively grooms Mildred who does not appreciate it. Mildred likes to eat and sit quietly. They each sleep on her(his) own trapeze.

On behalf of my gender-confused parakeets, I thank you.

Oh Plucky Umbrella

Oh plucky umbrella you love your job

you open and close brightly

people lose you daily and forget you nightly,

in foggy weather I can’t use you  rightly.


Well, everybody loves a sunny day

They think it makes their blues go away

Me I like the rain, gray skies are so pretty

with umbrellas walking all over the city.


Oh plucky umbrella, you know puddles splash

and winds blow to get in from below

Every time it rains I have to hold you high

and when I do, you do your best to keep me dry.


Oh you brave wide open thing

you make me want to plucking sing

oh you plucky plucky plucky thing

you make everybody want to sing.


How can I not love you, Plucky Umbrella?

the reason is: you are drunk and this is the edge of the roof

My desire-body, don’t come strolling over this way. Sit where you are, that’s a good place. When you want dessert you choose something rich. In wine you look for what is clear and firm. The rest is self-hatred and mocking other people and bombing.  So just be quiet and sit down. The reason is: you are drunk, and this is the edge of the roof.  – Rumi

The Standing Babas

The Standing Babas were men who’d taken a vow never to sit down, or lie down, ever again, for the rest of their lives. They ate their meals standing up . . . They even slept while they were standing, suspended in harnesses . . . The pain was unending and terrible . . . Tormented, tortured, the Standing Babas were never still. They shifted constantly from foot to foot in a gentle, swaying dance . . . The faces of the Babas were radiant with their excruciation . . . [they] assumed a luminous, transcendent beatitude. Light, made from the agonies they suffered, streamed from their eyes . . . The Babas were also comprehensively, celestially, and magnificently stoned. They smoked nothing Kashmiri – the best hashish in the world . . . and they smoked it all day, and all night, all their lives . . . For a tiny moment in the infinitude of his suffering I almost felt it, what the human will can drive the human body to endure and achieve.

– Gregory David Roberts, “Shantaram”


I come from a long line of heat panickers. Temperature-takers. Sweater on, no, sweater off, no, sweater back on.

Heat is worse than cold.  Heat creates deep panic.  I love my air conditioner. We are going to get married. My A.C. & I SHALL LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER.

note: photo from National Geographic, late ’60s.

Old Maid (Note peculiar resemblance to Jan.19 self-portrait)

As copied from the cover to a vintage deck: MCM 50′S BUILT-RITE OLD MAID SHAPED CARD GAME

Note the shape of the cards, “to fit small hands.”

When I was young, we actually played Old Maid. The object of the game was to pass the Old Maid card quickly to the next player so as not to get stuck holding her. Whoever had the Old Maid card in her hand at the end of the game WAS the Old Maid – the loser.  Nobody wanted to be an Old Maid.

An Old Maid was also sometimes called a “spinster.”  According to  Florence Falk, “lurking in the spinster’s background was the suggestion of some grand, unconsummated passion — the love which might have been, whose plaintive ‘if only’ helps explain why she became associated with two singular attributes: shame and sacrifice.”

Note: An Old Maid is an unmarried woman of middle age or older.

Note: In the “olden days” I would’ve been called an Old Maid (despite, I assume, two previous marriages)(there might be technicalities here, which might be explored in the future).

To give it a new-age positive spin, I’m an awesomely cool middle-aged single chick.

A Hafiz poem: Cast All Your Votes For Dancing


Cast All Your Votes For Dancing

I know the voice of depression
Still calls to you.

I know those habits that can ruin your life
Still send their invitations.

But you are with the Friend now
And look so much stronger.

You can stay that way
And even bloom!

Keep squeezing drops of the Sun
From your prayers and work and music
And from your companions’ beautiful laughter.

Keep squeezing drops of the Sun
From the sacred hands and glance of your Beloved
And, my dear,
From the most insignificant movements
Of your own holy body.

Learn to recognize the counterfeit coins
That may buy you just a moment of pleasure,
But then drag you for days
Like a broken man
Behind a farting camel.

You are with the Friend now.
Learn what actions of yours delight Him,
What actions of yours bring freedom
And Love.

Whenever you say God’s name, dear pilgrim,
My ears wish my head was missing
So they could finally kiss each other
And applaud all your nourishing wisdom!

O keep squeezing drops of the Sun
From your prayers and work and music
And from your companions’ beautiful laughter

And from the most insignificant movements
Of your own holy body.

Now, sweet one,
Be wise.
Cast all your votes for Dancing!

~ Hafiz ~

My Little Chef Oven

My Little Chef Oven, from the olden days when a little girl could really hurt herself.  With electric burners, no lightbulb heaters.  And butter and bandaids to soothe.  Yes, we were given toys that were dangerous, and we were given a cure that made the burns worse.  But we survived, and the burns did heal, and we eventually outgrew the toys.

Got it, boys?


Men Too Loud; Today’s Silence





Jan.5, 2012 Mary has a 4-hour stress test tomorrow morning. No one to take her or hold her hand.

No one to take her home after the test and make her a cup of hot tea.  She knows she’s being very self-centered and the world is full of people with much worse problems, but right now she wishes she had a man to sleep next to her and help her out tomorrow.  Tonight she votes in favor of Non-Spinsterhood.

I still enjoy being single – until I don’t.

January 2, 2012

Therapy, inner work, self-care, positive change . . . I can’t just heal myself for the rest of my life!  I must do something with my days.  Indoor gardening?  Small works of art?  More songs?

I could maybe meditate for the rest of my life. Meditate, walking meditations, swim, meditate, eat, meditate, sleep, meditate and so on.  Get a meditation bell.  Meditation could be my “hobby.”  I would be a meditator.

“Mary, what do you do?”

“Well, I’m a meditator.  I meditate many times each day.  I meditate so often that I could be my own monastery.”


I could keep looking for a husband.  A guy to live with for the rest of my life.  (either/or both/or neither)

I’m fine being single – until I’m not.

January 1st, 2012

Can I please be happy being single?

I want to be a wise old woman whom people are drawn to for her wisdom and gardens (even though I don’t like to garden).  A wise old woman who putters about, sings a bit, and paints sunsets or weasels or marvelous toys.

How do I stop longing for a significant other?  Is there an immunization for this desire?

How do I pull my alone act together?  I go through a couple of days okay – then –

WHAM   !   sad sad sad        How do I be me – alone?

God/Universe, half the time I don’t know what I’m writing about I am so full of b.s.