I was lucky, thanks to my mother and sister, to spend a few days last week at my favorite place on earth, Ocean City, New Jersey. And I snapped the above photo with my phone (of course with my phone!).

OMGosh, I have been to Paris, Beijing, Tijuana, Los Angeles, NYC, how could my favorite place ever be in Jersey? Which exit is that?

Okay Jersey haters, back down.

Ocean City has a certain magic to it. Now, true, the magic does not entirely still exist. To be fair, they are doing their level-best in OCNJ to develop the magic right-the-heck out of it. Greed, it’s a terrible thing.

But, today, there is yet some magic there. Still I could see some of the old brick or clapboard houses that are not sky high, and do not stop the wind from caressing every structure and every person with the smell of a salty sea. And that, I think, if I’m honest and want to boil it down to the cause, is the magic of Ocean City: its smell. Or at least the smell is where the magic begins. It starts in the nose, as you drive the causeway and over the bridge to the island, if you roll down your windows, you can smell the salt smell. I live on “The Eastern Shore” now, and those beaches, though lovely and enjoyable, do not have that smell. I don’t know why OCNJ has it and they do not, but the smell is evocative like few other smells.

So, in my perfect world, I wake up; I step out on my porch to look out on the ocean or the bay (I would be happy with the bay, though I prefer the long scary swath of the ocean; who knows what tidal waves could be forming just beyond the reach of my progressive lenses?), and my nose is assaulted by the slightly dank salty smell; it’s like your best lover’s sweat. I love strong smells, and strong tastes, and I know, standing on the porch each morning, I would inhale that sea funk like jasmine, and I would still never get enough. And, in my perfect world, it is never summer at the beach, but more Ocean City in the transitions from season to season, when the landscape could be cold and bleak one day, warm and inviting the next. And, in my perfect world, I am alone, and slightly lonely. And I need to find some way to fill my time with purpose. It may be that there are shells I need to collect, or a dog I need to walk, or a bean soup I need to make. Of course there is coffee I need to drink, and maybe a jigsaw puzzle to spend a little time on. The house plants need to be watered. I will meet a friend for lunch, or to write, or to go to Ocean City’s excellent Chinese restaurant for dinner. My friend and I will talk about how we wish Shaftos and Campbells had never closed. We will talk about how we thrilled to see the mast of the Sindia before the dredging buried it forever. We will tell each other family stories. I will tell her how, when I was young, we would clam on the beach, and collect starfish from the jetties, and my grandmother would warn us about the two little boys she swore were sucked under the sand while wandering near the jetties, never to be seen again. She will tell me how her aunt found a Cape May diamond as clear as a real diamond, and the size of a filbert. I will brave the cold wind to get a cut at Mack Mancos almost every day, and though they’ve dropped the Mack from the name, and doubled the Mancos, blessedly the pizza remains the same. And all other pizza is some other thing entirely that is anything but pizza. I will watch the handsome pizza boy toss the crust in the air, and I will make my stupid joke about how I want this pizza to be my last meal on earth, and the server will Kindly chuckle each time. I will buy all my clothes at The Flying Carp on Asbury, and everything I wear will be voluminous and linen, and made for a tall thin woman with a long neck and hair, and yet, like my grandmother, I will most certainly be a short stout woman with little hair. But I will wear it anyway, elevated on my noisy clogs, and teach my back to straighten so I can walk with the long strides of tall women. I will treat myself to cookies from Wards more than I should, and I will not care about my weight. I will live in the mysterious purple house in The Gardens that used to have mannequins dressed up in the sunken living room, by the place where we sent my father’s ashes out to sea, or I will live in one of the big homes in the north end that are festooned with fire escapes because they grew so tall. I will never get in my car. Only jazz bands will play at The Music Pier, and Grappelli and Brubeck and Gordon Guaraldi and Getz will not be dead, ever, and will play there every other month. (Surely Brubeck should have changed his name to Grubeck.) I will be a member of the fishing pier club, whatever that is exactly, and I will finally have access to that long locked pier, and I will fish there with an old man named John, who will also be my friend, and who will take the fish off of my hook for me. In exchange I will flour and pan fry our catch, along with some potatoes, and invite him for dinner. I’ll open the can of peeled tomatoes and thicken them with flour, but no sugar. We will drink strong coffee followed by flavored brandy as we chomp some of the cookies from Wards. We will talk politics and play Stratego, and at least half the time I will win, and he will think I am smart and feisty, but we will not fall all the way in love, lest we lose our lovely lonely feeling. In the summer months I will escape to somewhere cooler or less crowded; I will trade my house with a family in Greece or Guanzhou. I will bring home souvenirs in the fall, and rearrange all the furniture to fit them in.

To be in a windy place is a good thing; the wind is constantly cleaning and sweeping everything. Los Angeles was never windy, unless it was the hot desert wind. City winds do their job well, but too roughly; they slice into you when you try to walk against them. But the sea wind is perfect because it pushes, it sweeps, but it also wraps you up; it twirls your hair and clothing around you. It makes of you a little package and then it holds you in its hand. I am grateful that where I live now is affordable, windy, and has the shrill sound of gulls from time to time to bring my mind to the sea.

Dear OCNJ, as the real estate agents stretch you thinner and thinner, may you find a way to keep your unique scent, your lovely wrapping wind, against the onslaught of the greed of men. I love you.



What time is it? 10:50 am, and I’ve just finished my third class of the day at a school 50+ miles from my home. I have to pee like a monkey’s racehorse (#HomeMovies). honky magoo

Went to bed @ 2, up at 5. What did Roger Murtaugh used to say?


HA! But, in some ways, it’s like riding a bicycle, you never forget how to fall off!

Happy-back-to-school-back-to-work Everyone!




Look at the joy on the face of Aretha Franklin as she records one of her many hit songs.

I wish you could see the sadness on my face today, as I mourn her passing. I never was lucky enough to see her perform live.

However, if you ever heard Aretha sing, live, or on a record, you’re lucky enough.

Rest in peace dear Lady Soul.



Devil’s Party Press released Aurora last Friday, and here is a sample of one of the two stories I have inside,”Red Dust Tours.”

This story was from an assignment I received in a “flash fiction” event. I got these elements:
Sci- Fi, cinnamon buns, and a bus.

Here’s what I came up with:

Dianne Pearce

TODAY THE LIGHT CHANGED direction just enough to hint at fall, though it’s still August. That was my idea from my West Virginia childhood, that trick of light. I gave ’em that. I knew I’d better be useful if I wanted a damn ticket.

Of course, Bruce got a ticket. Bruce made the most delicious cinnamon buns on Earth. Bruce, and his buns, was to help supply “home cooking,” to the ones with tickets. Wives had to wait for after they worked the bugs out. But I could do anything but wait. I wanted off that little blue ball.

I met Bruce in ’45. Stepped out of the dark burlesque club after my shift on stage, right into a group of GIs shouting, “War is over!” My eyes blinked in the sun. One of them grabbed me, shook me, yelled, “Don’t you understand? The war is done!” then pulled me to him, tears streaming in my hair.

I let the GI come with me, come to my apartment, let him come into me, and afterwards he squeezed into my kitchenette and made real magic. The batch was just three buns; all the butter a girl could get in war time, but, oh, heavenly. He had a dream of a bakery, and I said, “Darling, I believe in you.”

I had been a lonely child. My mother was one of those mothers with no time for me and no husband for her, but a lotta uncles for us both, and no one gave me much of a thought until I got my first bra, and then one of those uncles decided he wanted to have me call him “sweet daddy” instead of uncle. I realized then that I had two choices: either stay at home and become a sort-of second course to what Mama was selling or go out on my own. If some stranger was going to take what he wanted from me, I wanted to be the one to decide what was a fair trade. So I hopped a bus far enough away from where Mama could get her hands on me, and when I got to town, Bruce’s town, though I didn’t know him then, the other girls in the burlesque were more than willing to help me learn to pad my bra and shake my rump.

After that day with Bruce, when the war ended, well, Bruce was looking for something to build, instead of tearing everything down like he’d done in Europe. And when I let him move in with me he wanted me to go legit. Just his girl and all; I’d stop the shaken’ and he’d start the bakin’. He wanted to take care of me. It was sweet, like his cinnamon buns, but when you’ve had as many uncles as I’ve had, you know that any man’s offer to take care of you comes with an expiration date. I agreed to move apartments to overtop the old bakery he wanted to start back up, but I had my eyes open the whole time.

And so Bruce was bakin’ and I was takin’. I was the one in front, the one you had to ask to wait on you, the one you had to give your money to. Now a lot of the townsfolk had menfolk who’d met me before, in one way or another, and their womenfolk just found it a bit hard to swallow, reaching into their tight little coin purses and giving me, that dirty woman, fifty cents, fifty cents, for a dozen cinnamon buns when donuts only cost fifteen for the very same dozen. Though they sure swallowed a lot of Bruce’s cinnamon buns no matter how badly they made them choke on their pride. The little bakery was doing okay, but I still felt like I couldn’t really breathe, not behind that counter, not listening to the little “click!” of those purses when I turned to put the money in the till.

In ’46 the notices began to appear around town:

Uncle Sam Needs YOU for a New Society!

I made Bruce go right away, but when he came home he shook his head. The crazies were going make a colony on Mars! It was impossible. My heart stopped. A new society, a new society, with no one designated as an uncle, and no one designated as a dirty woman, and no little pursed mouths to cluck at me when they passed me in Sorenson’s grocery. A new planet, a real new world, a chance to escape all possible expiration dates.

Helping America was how they pitched it. Having a captive audience for his baking was how I pitched it. Judge Passwater married us the next day; the judge knew us club girls and didn’t ask questions. Bruce was so pleased I’d finally married him. He wanted a little Bruce to teach baking to. And as far as I was concerned, he could have it, if he gave me what I wanted. One last trade on the trip to freedom. Then came the hours making love, talking, in whispers in his ear, about how happy he would be, about taking little Bruce with us, safe in my oven, then raising him in a new sheltered world, where he’d never have to go to war like his daddy had.

America had no space program that I knew of, but they convinced one-hundred single men and two women with skills, a nurse, and a Wisconsin cheese maker, to attempt to live among the stars. Cheese, cinnamon buns: sounds silly, but the army knew good food keeps the grousing down. I had no skill, well, none they thought they needed, though a few of them in the committee tried it out to be sure. They thought, despite what Bruce said, that the cinnamon bun soldier could bake just fine without me for a few months, and when Bruce said no, they reenlisted him like that.

Finally, I got my ticket by worrying them. One by one when the committee members decided they would “take another meeting” with me, “purely out of consideration for you, Bruce,” as they would say even though the meetings happened upstairs in our apartment, while Bruce was below elbow-deep in flour, I started pointing out little cracks in the whole Mars plan, looking for a way onto the spaceship, a way to jimmy the lock.

The surface of Mars was probably too cold for human life at present, so the plan was to build underground cities. And that was the point I hammered on. “You know, people get upset living like moles. What will you do, if they can’t take it underground all that time? Probably all go crazy. But, what if you had a pretty girl to take them on an excursion outside? Provide a trip to the surface from time to time?” I lied, said I had driven a Hollywood tour, seen all the stars. Each time one of the officers came visiting they chewed the idea over with me. I had gotten to them. One brigadier had a brother who sold school busses. The staff mechanic, who liked the idea of a woman in uniform, said he could reassemble the bus on Mars; I was in.

Bruce and me were the only people allowed to share the same bunk when they put us under for the ride to Mars. They closed the glass lid over us. Bruce folded his arms around me. A white fog trickled up the center of the glass. We never felt ourselves leave ground.

We woke up covered in cinnamon; Bruce had stashed in his shirt pocket a packet of Vietnam cassia a buddy had smuggled back from a final tour of duty. The pressure exploded the wax paper wrapping. We woke up choking on it, eyes burning, noses bleeding a little from the heat of it. If I hadn’t been choking within an inch of my life I would’a smacked Bruce for being so damn dumb. But, I think it was that cinnamon saved us, protected us, because, one month after we landed, one month after the construction crew finished the underground build, we noticed the grey hair. Our fellow travelers began aging, fast. Our scientists had a rocket ride back scheduled for the end of year one, but instead they took blood samples from everyone, took extra from Bruce and me, took off. Us regular folks were left to try and societize ourselves, come into a routine, not panic.

Intrigued? Buy a copy of Aurora, and read the rest!