Welcome


pieholelogoBy Lisa Montagne

Hi! Welcome to “Talking Out of My Pie Hole,” where I do just that—spout about a multitude of things from dance to the exceptional benefits of setting one’s expectations very low. Why am I blogging? I am on a fool’s journey to uncover some truths, just like many essayists before me. My great writing heroes, the likes of Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, and Mark Twain, set the example. And, who am I to argue with them?

My old aunts say we are related to the French founding father of the modern essay, Michel de Montaigne, but aunts say a lot of things—like my green nail polish makes my nails look Continue reading “Welcome”

Jumpsuit by Lisa Montagne

Published by Running Wild Press, 2016

 

The jumpsuit was a thing of beauty. Made of dark-blue, shiny denim, it had an orange zipper that spanned from the crotch to the cleavage. It even sparkled ever so slightly in the sun, like it had been dipped in a vat of finely grained fairy dust. It sported capped sleeves, a wide collar, and bellbottoms. It was worthy of Cher or Liza Minnelli—certainly a back-up singer for Diana Ross. Nonetheless, it made me queasy. But, the jumpsuit also made me feel sexy and daring, which incited an occasional wave of sweaty armpits. In it, I was anxious to flaunt my new body and my new image. Seventh grade, here I come! I thought. There was no stopping me. I would no longer be the nerdy, fat kid. I would be a star.

Any rational adult would be stunned that my mother let me buy a body-hugging, denim jumpsuit for my thirteenth birthday. My mother was a real-deal Southern belle; she begged to me to wear make-up the moment I turned twelve.

“Lisa,” she would say, “after putting on your lipstick, you blot it with a Kleenex.” The purpose of this was lost on me, but she would grab whatever was nearby—Kleenex be damned—a bank deposit slip, a piece of notebook paper, a movie ticket stub—and press her lips around it. There were bits of paper everywhere with her red lip prints on them. In the car. Under the couch.

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My Little Buddy by Lisa Montagne

T-bird.2For 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.

T-bird4I 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.

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The Multi-Tasking Dancer by Lisa Montagne

This was originally a guest blog at atomicballroom.com.

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.

Later in the evening, when a Cha Cha came on, that same lead was even more uncomfortable, and finally, when there was a Rumba, he was completely demoralized and left. Quite a few others followed him. Fortunately for me, my escort for the evening was a lead who can dance when a Waltz, a Cha Cha, or a Rumba is played. Except for the fact that probably 20 people bailed like vegetarians from a steak house just like my friend, it was a very satisfying night out. And, despite the sin of playing a variety of music, this Swing band did its job; the musicians played very well and created a fun atmosphere—and who wouldn’t appreciate that?

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There and Back Again by Lisa Montagne

When I was eight or nine years old, I read The Hobbit. Even though I was so young, it set the course of my life. The Hobbit was to me what Harry Potter is to the millennial generation. The Hobbit took me to an alternative world where there were lush and dangerous landscapes, whimsical Hobbit holes and elevensies, romantic heroes fighting interesting evil creatures, an exciting journey far from home, and a tiny under-dog who suffered and triumphed. This book whisked me away from the reality of bullying at school, and angry voices rattling their way down the hall from my parents’ room.  After The Hobbit, I read the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy. And then, I read CS Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia series, Madeleine L’Engel’s A Wrinkle in Time—and countless other books that inspired me. The result of all this reading, sparked by the magic of The Hobbit, was that I wanted to be a writer–and perhaps even a university English professor, just like Tolkien and Lewis. I wanted to be able to take people to an extra-ordinary place away from the mundane, but mostly I wanted to share with others something that is still difficult to articulate; the best that I can do is this: I wanted others to feel the magic that emanates from a written page just like I did—and just like I still do.

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Sex on Television? Yes, Please by Lisa Montagne

According to the wisdom of half-hour American sit-coms, most “normal” women are either not interested in sex, or they use it as a control mechanism. The usual scene on these shows plays out something like this: A middle-aged husband and wife are sitting up in bed, reading or watching TV. The man tries to bargain for the sex that his wife—naturally—is withholding. She feigns a “headache,” and hilarity ensues. Ha, ha.  At the end of the scene, the woman looks like she is in charge, but she also looks like a giant prude, while the husband looks like a humiliated child who is denied his lollipop after dinner.

Perhaps in the 1980s this was a new kind of trope, but in 2014 it is more than tired. There are too many problems with this scene for me to address here; for example, in real life, it is actually much more likely to be the middle-aged man with the “headache” in this scenario. You would think given the frequency with which Viagra commercials fly through the air that people would pick on this, but, no, even the men in Viagra commercials are horn dogs—even when they aren’t.  The crux of television often getting sex scenes so wrong, especially in scenes involving characters over the age of 40, stems from the writers of these sit-coms and television commercials, who are mostly 20-something men who have no real idea what goes in the bedrooms of people over 40. Still, people watch and laugh. Continue reading “Sex on Television? Yes, Please by Lisa Montagne”

The Name Game by Lisa Montagne

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 “The Name Game by Lisa Montagne”

Barstool By Lisa Montagne

So Jesus Christ walks into a bar. Not just any bar; my bar.

With the cool confidence of the Son of God he parks himself on a barstool and throws down a C note that he peeled from a wad of cash. He stuffs the wad back in his overcoat pocket, and tosses his fedora on the bar.

“Bar keep,” he says, “scotch whiskey, neat. And none of that cheap hootch you try to peddle. Make it a double malt.”

A man with taste in a dive like this, I think. I gotta admire that. He glances my way. He’s got big, intelligent eyes like he knows things.

“What you drinking, doll?” Jesus asks.

“Gin Rickey,” I answer.

He motions to the bartender to pour me another. I like a man who takes charge.

“Thanks,” I say. “What brings you to this dump? Shouldn’t you be out blessing the poor or something?”

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How To Make a Community by Lisa Montagne

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. Large populations, such as those in Southern California, are overwhelming and make it impossible to know everyone, which is more likely in small towns. In fact, it is often not desirable to know one’s neighbors in city and suburban environments—it could be threatening to privacy and even dangerous in some cases, especially for people who live alone.

As the country has become more urban and suburban during the last fifty years, and as small-town communities have become the exception rather than the rule, the challenge of finding a group to belong in has been made increasingly difficult. One might even argue that urban gangs have become attractive to young people because there is no natural community available to them, so they make their own–no matter how misguided they may be.

As a result of the isolating nature of modern society, a person must actively seek a group or groups to belong to in order follow his natural instincts for love, security, a sense of place in the world, and a context for creating a meaningful life. Continue reading “How To Make a Community by Lisa Montagne”