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Thursday, December 6, 2012
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Thursday, September 6, 2012
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Sunday, August 26, 2012
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Thursday, August 2, 2012
Saturday, July 28, 2012
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
try to follow me over at my new home.
Saturday, June 30, 2012
Latest workshop is up with new prompt. But remember ,you can link up what you like,cas long as it's fiction!
Monday, June 25, 2012
Friday, June 15, 2012
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Monday, June 11, 2012
I was touched, even if it was just my hairstylist. She'd been "thinking" I was overdue for a touch up.
Angelina combed her hands through my nest. I watched her in the mirror and was reminded of our gerbils, the way they groom each other, though be it with their nubby little teeth.
She pressed down my hair so I could see the two inches of gray bordering my part. "You really shouldn't wait this long."
I do. I wait too long. Until the gray is this, a bar down the middle of my scalp. Trying to maintain a deceptively youthful appearance costs bucks, and I don't care for sitting too long in front of a too-brightly lit mirror.
I do like that I'm often the youngest lady at the salon – a mere 49-year-old child! At least in comparison to the snow-white grandmothers shuffling in on walkers, wearing out-dated daisy-print blouses, polyester blue pants, and maybe an old rhinestone dragonfly brooch. These ladies are the salon's most frequent patrons, escorted weekly by devoted daughters (distracted by the texting of their own most likely newly minted adult daughters) to have their thinning hair washed and set in pink rollers.
Being such regulars, one anecdote can be continued from week to week, and these anecdotes usually are precipitated by hair washing; something about craning your head back into a sink inspires the confessional. As about the negligent grandson who left his attaché case on the train given him after he graduated law school by Grandma; he forgot it "so he "claimed," because "the wife" was calling about the broken laundry machine and he was so distracted, he left it on his seat; but Grandma gave into his other "claim" that he really did love the attaché case; so Grandma made her daughter drive her to the mall to find the exact same case but for fifty bucks less than at Christmas and isn't it wonderful that "with just a few dollars you can make a problem go away."
When the washing and rolling is done, so is the chatting, and these ladies are comfortably settled under dryers, to flip through home-decorating magazines, to doze off, or, in one case, to pass away:
"I did, I thought she'd just nodded off," Angelina was telling me on one visit. "But when I went to check her hair, she was dead."
Last time I'd sat under one of those dome dryers was when I could still squeak by with mere highlights to disguise the gray. But I remember that, enjoying the heat and hum, and thinking this is what it was like to be inside a fishbowl.
Rubber-gloved, smearing poo-colored goo into my hair, Angelina had gone on to tell me how they'd called an ambulance and the deceased lady was "wheeled out." Then evidently, she'd moved on to her next customer.
I looked at her in her gilded gold-leaf mirror. Fake ivy trailered dustily down the frame. "You....didn't close or anything?"
She actually chuckled, more of a phlegmy cough from 30 odd years of smoking. "Hon, what was I supposed to do, reschedule everyone for the next day when I was already booked?"
She set the timer and walked away.
I had only myself to look at in the gilded mirror, my head a matted gooey mess.
After what seemed hours of my trying to focus on my Kindle without overhearing more sink confessionals, the timer finally went off.
Then it was my turn to crane my head back into the sink for my own little therapeutic session.
Deb, the hair washer, started hosing the goo out of my hair, asking, "So how ya been?"
Well, I thought about this. I could spew the saga about my mother driving into the wall of a carpet store, then taking a mandatory road test only to fail and lose her license. Or I could tell her about how my eight year old worried he looked like a girl. That my basement flooded because a sock got stuck in the drainage hose. That recently I discovered my first wrinkle that is no frown or laugh line, which, from the hair washer's vantage point, she could probably see for herself, as well as probable nose hairs.
I couldn't pick or choose one thing so I just closed my eyes and said, "Oh, great. I've been great."
And I will persevere with the blond until I succumb to a turkey neck. Honestly, a small (minute) fraction of my 49-year-old youthfulness looks forward to that surrendering to the snow-white. And if I cannot spend my last moments breathing in salty air at the edge of the sea, I would opt for that, dying in my sleep under a hair dryer.
P.S. I'm migrating over to wordpress so start following me, please, over there!
Friday, June 8, 2012
Not all are the "close" first person, which doesn't matter a hoot. The key is to keep your voice consistent, whatever point of view you choose. Julie does happen to nail the "close" part; she succeeds in establishing a colloquial – the spoken – voice. The reader can hear this narrator speaking, her actual tone. At the same time, Julie doesn't neglect those descriptive details that make this moment visual and immediate for the reader:
I don’t know how I get myself into these crazy schemes with Lisa and her life coach friend, Candy. The last thing I want to do is invest an afternoon hearing little miss chirpy talk about how to create a wonderful life when I should be working on my novel .
Yes, the hair on my arms is standing up at the thought of listening to Candy’s drivel and the need to smile into the hopeful eyes of Lisa, who is chronically concerned with my lack of motivation.
It’s easy for Lisa to say. She has been in love with Frank since she was twenty years old. I introduced them, for God’s sake. She doesn’t know what it feels like to wake up in an unhappy marriage for the last ten years because you just don’t know how to escape it.
No one writes novels about this: they’re too busy writing stuff about sexcapades of an early twenties woman discovering her kinky side with her jet-setter “how did he get so rich by his mid twenties anyway?” boyfriend.
Worst yet, Candy probably imagines herself as one of those women.
I see Candy standing at the big picture window, waving at me from half a level above me. Her orange and pink jacket scream, “I am the center of attention or I am nothing!” Her enormous pendant atop her petal pink blouse wreak confusion: power woman meet woman ready to conceive, or something like that.
Now that I’ve been spotted, there is no way I can go home. I smile and return the wave as I see Lisa join the scene at the window.
She looks exactly the same as the day I introduced her to Frank. You can’t see a single wrinkle nor any excess baggage from her three babies.
On the other hand I carry at least an extra forty pounds from my years with Mitch. Perhaps it is a pound for every month since the two of us have had a significant conversation.
I was still considering making an excuse when I heard the door open and Lisa’s voice call out to me. “Laura! I am so glad you are here!”
There is no escaping now. Damn.
Nice work, Julie! Stay tuned for my next prompt, I'm hoping by Sunday! Wish I could get my %$@# button to work!
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
This was new to her. This affinity she had with amphibians. Rather, water frogs. Her son's African Dwarf, actually. He'd won the dull little brown frog in the classroom lottery, bringing him home in a tupperware container.
She'd poured him into the old beta fish bowl. Then boiled a few rocks from the garden and plunked them in – She wasn't going to invest again in pretty colored gravel and plastic trees; she knew how this would go, the same way the beta fish had gone – the frog would be ignored except when she was the one to remember to feed it.
Though as ignored as Blooney the blue beta fish had been, he'd been far more responsive; when she came into the kitchen, he was always there at the glass, fins waggling, as eager as a puppy.
The frog was not eager. Just earnest.
When the frog was small, it hid beneath the rocks. But then it grew. Big enough to knock the rocks around. There were mornings, after the kids were off to school, when she'd sit at her computer to check email and the house was so quiet, she could actually hear that, the rocks gently knocking against the glass of the bowl.
One morning, she got up to go over and look at him. His webbed feet had grown so big and awkward, she was reminded of her son as a toddler shuffling around in his daddy's too-big slippers.
The frog stared out at her. Or past her.
She dropped in a food pellet. He remained motionless except for his eyes – he looked up at the surface. His webbed "hands" were splayed as if in supplication. Until the pellet dropped. He sprang. Gulped. Then returned to his stance of supplication.
A stance she recognized. They were one and the same. Both trapped in their own bowls, where their pleas for help raised up could not be heard above the watery surface.
This is the last day to link up with Sandra's first prompt for
her writing workshop hop.Thank you to all who have linked up and be sure to read each other's "manuscripts"; make thoughtful but kind comments. All writers need critiques as well as encouragement. In my teaching experience, some of my most successful students have been those whose work needed the most revision. They revised and revised until they got it right. So that's the purpose of this hop, to help fellow writers become their own best editors.
Monday, June 4, 2012
That nasty little phrase can be on the tip of my tongue all day. Like a Tic Tac, a nasty milk-sour one, that just won't dissolve.
I long to blurt it at everybody. Even the dumb squirrel pausing in the middle of the road, paws in air as if to make some terribly poignant point, so I must swerve to avoid smearing its bushy grey existence across the pavement.
The too-eager restaurant water kids who can interrupt my own poignant point to ask if they can top off my water glass: Oh, shut up.
Even my husband. Who likes to point out that we're out of bananas. Bananas are a sensitive issue. His morning granola otherwise seems inedible.
Then there is my mother: "You'd have more money if you didn't waste it on things like aluminum foil."
And my kids. Sometimes I have good reason to yell at them to shut up, when I actually restrain myself.
But on one particular evening, I had no good reason to tell either one to shut up. Still, I longed to, as when my youngest came up behind me with one of his many daily mom requests:
"Mom? Can I have a bowl of water for my grasshopper?"
"In just a minute."
"He may die of thirst."
It's there. On the tip of my tongue. That milk-sour taste. "I'm making dinner," I said.
Then the phone rang. I was hoping it was a telemarketer because it's ok to tell them to shut up, and when it's a computerized friendly recording I do tell "it" to shut up.
It was actually a friend calling. Who also happens to be the mother of my son's best friend.
She and her son felt like taking a bike ride over for a visit.
Now? Six o'clock? I felt my neck tensing. My face was leaning into a steaming pot of boiling water and I couldn't remember why I was boiling it. "Well, maybe not today," I said pleasantly, even though it was actually evening.... "I'm actually making dinner."
"Oh, well, Don's cooking tonight and he's not home until late."
Oh, how, nice. A husband who not only cooks, but would cook coming home from work late. While Mommy gets to think about dropping by for a visit at other people's houses while they're slaving away at their own mundane meals. Maybe burning the rice as I was then, filling a bowl of water for Mr. Grasshopper and trying to remember why I was boiling water in the first place. Had I been thinking first pasta instead of rice?
So now I wanted to tell her to shut up.
I didn't, of course. As I didn't with my husband, mother or children. In fact, I mustered a tone so even keeled, it made my teeth ache.
Since she was a friend, I decided to tell her the truth. That this wouldn't be a good time to drop in for a visit because I felt like telling everyone to shut up.
She laughed and said, "I just love how you're able to take care of yourself."
Hmm. I had to think about this. And about this friend who was actually the mom of four boys, three in junior high and then the first grader– a crowd compared to my two. Who, every time I've visited her house, has emanated an aura of calm in the midst of chaos; stacks of laundry folded on the couch yet to be put away; a fish tank green with suffocating fish; a dining room table of encrusted breakfast plates and broken Lego creations.
Yet, she could meander through the chaos as if strolling along a peaceful wooded path. And I'd always envied this calm, as a glass of juice spilled on a bad day can send me into a tailspin.
But maybe she's not so calm. Maybe the "calm" was a veneer to cover up the fact that she might actually stifle that: her own deep desire to tell everyone to just shut the hell up.
After hanging up, the sour Tic Tac seemed to finally be dissolving. At least for this day. And I called for Kenny to tell him he could have his bowl of water now -- a cereal-bowl-size full. What was I thinking, it's for a dog?
Wait. What! for a grasshopper? In the house?
Link up with my Writing Workshop hop!
This post is featured this week on BlogHer.com
Friday, June 1, 2012
Trifecta weekend challenge:
It wasn't the first time he'd forget his homework. He'd had to write about a comet: "A frozen mixture of ice, dust and rock." But so what. It's really just a giant dirty snowball. In space, that's all.
Come link up in Sandra's writing workshop
Joey says I'm a liar. He says I'm lying about moon trees – I swear it, we have them. You know, how trees can look when the moon is a big? Like sticks. The trees, I mean. I don't think all trees look like black sticks, just some. The ones with not so many leaves. Those are the moon trees. My Gramma even told me they're real; that some astronaut took seeds into space then brought them back to plant on Earth.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
When he'd overheard his mother on the phone trying to guide http://www.storypraxis.com/ he'd thought Gramma was trying to kill the bird; he'd imagined her holding down a flailing feathered hen while cradling the phone on her shoulder. His mother, having been making dinner herself, finally had turned the phone on speaker, and he'd heard his Gramma say she was taking a knife to it. Turns out, his mother had bought her one of those precooked chickens they themselves sometimes ate, and Gramma couldn't get the plastic lid off. She'd taken to stabbing at it instead.
His mother didn't usually put his Gramma on speaker. Whenever he'd overhear their conversations, his mother would talk very loud, as his Gramma was going a bit deaf, but cup her hand over the phone or turn toward a wall, as if she didn't want him to hear her yelling.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
She'd forgotten all about that – burying all her deceased salt-water fish in the flower bed. Her three clownfish, two blue damsels with those yellow tails she loved to watch flickering in the watery light when she was up nights sleepless. Even the large spotted grouper who'd reflected back her own baffled looks. Back then.They'd all died that first year she'd been trying to get pregnant, and she'd actually sent her husband out with a garden trowel to bury them. It had been his idea, anyway, to set up the aquarium, as if fish could distract her from the fact that they seemed unable to conceive. It wasn't an act of punishment making him bury them.
Having for years taught fiction writing, I'm missing sitting around some oblong table hashing out scene and character issues over dog-eared manuscripts and cold cups of coffee. So let's see if we can make this work, a workshop hop!
Meant to be informal but constructive. Open to all who write or would like to try their hand at writing fiction.
Weekly, I'll offer writing prompts, some inspirational, but mostly ones to help you focus better on the editorial and control of voice, etc. Remember, these are just offerings.
The first prompt is to write in the close first person
John Updike's short story "A & P" is a great example of writing from this close "I" colloquial point of view; it is in the spoken tone here, that we come to know this character is a teenager:
"In walks these three girls in nothing but bathing suits. I'm in the third check-out slot, with my back to the door, so I don't see them until they're over by the bread. The one that caught my eye first was the one in the plaid green two-piece. She was a chunky kid, with a good tan and a sweet broad soft-looking can with those two crescents of white just under it, where the sun never seems to hit, at the top of the backs of her legs. I stood there with my hand on a box of HiHo crackers trying to remember if I rang it up or not. I ring it up again and the customer starts giving me hell. She's one of these cash-register-watchers, a witch about fifty with rouge on her cheekbones and no eyebrows, and I knowit made her day to trip me up. She'd been watching cash registers forty years and probably never seen a mistake before."Rules:
"I have my first wrinkle."
My 93-year-old mother chuckled. "Your first?"
I could tell she was resting on her bed, head propped on her pillows, where she liked to rest most afternoons. Looking out the window at her yard where I'd staked her a new bird feeder.
I was upset. "This is my first real wrinkle. It's there all the time."
"Try hemorrhoid cream, like Carol does." Carol is the woman who comes in a few times a week for meals and to clean.
"On your face?"
"She has flawless skin and is just about your age."
This wasn't what I was looking for. "I'm not putting something on my face that goes on your butt."
"Well, then you have to start using serum and a good brand wrinkle cream."
"I use moisturizer."
"That's not wrinkle cream."
True. I've avoided anything labelled for wrinkles. Yes, I have some laugh lines and a few crows feet, but not wrinkles.
My mother couldn't stop chuckling. "Wait until you get a turkey neck. Then you have to start worrying. Or just wear neck scarves."
She owns a lot of neck scarves.
I wasn't prepared for this wrinkle, let alone a turkey neck, nor my new tummy: "Your metabolism has slowed, that's all," my doctor told me at my last visit after I weighed in a good ten pounds heavier even though I'm not necessarily gorging on chips.
My mother had already suggested I buy a girdle, so I wasn't going to add the tummy topic into the mix. . . .
Still, I wasn't getting what I needed from her. Probably because usually our conversations are about her own crises, ones that are relatively small but at 93 are big. Like misplaced canes and glasses. A bottle of pills that has rolled under her bureau. Towels that are missing.
Every so often though, as much as I may try to suppress it for her sake, I need my mother in my own little crises, even what might just be a little twist of my mind –sometimes, I just need my mom.
I wasn't ready for this wrinkle. "Why is it suddenly just there?"
I'd moved outside to sit in a deck chair. Usually when we're on the phone, I'm be up and about, multitasking, doing dishes, even checking email. But now it was me who needed her undivided attention – at 49 complaining about wrinkles, I was feeling twenty-something after some relationship with some guy hadn't worked out. When I'd turned to my mother then too, knowing she could put what seemed a tragedy into perspective.
The reality is, long after I thought I needed it, she remains the warm hand brushing my hair back off my forehead as she would when I was a little girl. But as she has weakened and become more dependent on me, I find it unbearable to need her in this way.
Then the comfort words did come: "Dear, you will age beautifully. I have no doubts about that."
I was able to breathe a little easier then, enough to relax back in the plastic adirondack chair, to look up at the sky. "I'm old," I sighed, which sent us both laughing at both the truth and the absurdity of that, in light of both our ages.
Interested in writing fiction? Come link up with my
new writing workshop hop!
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Marge had a stray chicken in her yard. It was smart. It had found a hole in her lattice and slept in a safe haven beneath her deck.
The chicken had escape when her neighbor, Ted, died, and his kids sold his house, and the old hen house was razed. They'd donated the other chickens to some local farm. Leona evidently hadn't wanted to leave.
One morning, Leona was pecking at the screen door. Marge opened the door, and Leona marched in, assessed the place, then ate a crumb from Marge's breakfast granola bar off the worn linoleum floor.
Monday, May 21, 2012
Window 22 was at the far end of a long counter marked by 21 other windows – each window framed by ivy sprigs rooting in vases of pretty glass marbles. As if DMV could be any more inviting than a blood lab.
For the interrogation, a lady with a clipboard asked politely if I would "step away" from the window so she could interrogate my mother about what happened when she drove her car into the wall of the carpet store. When she mistook the gas for the brake pedal.
I sat on a bench – just within earshot of my mother referring repeatedly to the brake as the "clutch." What she learned to drive on what, a good, 75 years ago? I wanted to pinch her.
Friday, May 18, 2012
"Why don't you go talk to them about the dog?" her daughter would say on her weekly phone calls. "There are leash laws, you know."
Marge didn't know why she didn't, except with so many new folk replacing the older generation on her street, she felt a stranger in her own neighborhood.
And this latest new family had moved into Ted's old house. Before he died, he'd been tethered to an oxygen machine and Marge would go over daily to tidy up his kitchen, and collect eggs from the chicken coop. Back when both their own kids were growing up, Ted's chickens had been a welcomed novelty on the suburban street. More so than now, when a backyard jacuzzi was more the rage. After Ted died, his kids sold the chickens and tore down the shed to prepare the house for sale.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
And to Amy of http://amywritesnet.blogspot.com/
who did a phenomenal memoir exploration in the A-Z challenge
Thanks so much again, Kat!
"Trouble" he knew best from when his mother warned him not to steal Batman croc charms from the Stride Rite bin.
But the actual meaning of the other "trouble" he came to know without really knowing the word for it: the way his mother could look even during one of his thumb magic tricks.
Maybe she could look that way because she knew how the plastic thumb worked, having bought it for him herself. But he had taught himself new tricks, and she liked to see them except when she was cooking dinner or picking up after him. "I'd have time for tricks, if you'd hang your coat up yourself. ..."
So he tried to pick a time when she wasn't busy – after she'd just hung up with his elderly grandmother and she was just sitting at the table. She'd been bent into the phone, trying to explain something about a Visa card: "No, Mom," she'd said. "You can't do that, just charge the balance back to your card. That's why you're getting charged interest. You need to write a check, from your checking account..." Her forehead would be resting in one hand. There were other such phone calls, as when his grandmother couldn't open a precooked chicken.
But when she was just sitting there at the table, staring at the wall, he decided she wasn't busy and he could show her his new thumb trick.
"Sure," she said, sounding tired. She folded her arms on the table to play audience. Yet she wasn't as attentive as on the phone. She pretended surprise when he whipped a tissue out from behind her ear. Then she just looked at him as blankly as she had stared at the wall.
He slipped his thumb back into his pocket. Maybe he should have done one of his disappearing coin tricks instead. But by the way she still sat there even after he left the room, he didn't think it would have mattered.
Monday, May 14, 2012
Marge had just told she'd quit her volunteer position as a "tree" at the arboretum. She felt encased in glass as she sat alone at her table with an empty coffee cup. "Yes. That's what trees do."
Her daughter was running water in her sink. This seemed always the time when Karen called, when she was doing stuff; clatter of silverware into the dishwasher, mad bristly scrubbing of some pot. Marge's grandson fussing in the background, in his highchair with some shaky toy.
Her daughter's obsession with getting Marge out of the house started after Marge made the mistake of confiding to her about how her dead husband had come to her in on a full moon night and stood beside her bed.
"You were dreaming, Mom," Karen had said, in her squeaky-clean brand new perfunctory tone. As when she would tell Marge how she should toss out catalogues piling up in her house.
"I couldn't really see his face but it was really him. And he was angry."
"Daddy had no reason to be angry. You should be angry with him, for never listening."
Really, if anyone was angry, it was her daughter. 'What was he thinking?" she'd wailed, when Marge had to call and tell her that he'd keeled over from a massive heart attack one too-hot summer day while mowing the lawn.
For some reason, he had refused to acknowledge his heart condition, and that steamy morning, she'd watched as he'd hauled the push mower out from the garage. She'd even once suggested investing in a ride-on mower. "Why don't ya just get me a motorized wheelchair?"
Too damn hot to argue. She'd just wanted to get into her air-conditioned car, to get a couple of cans of tunafish for a tuna salad lunch. If she had protested, he would only have pretended not to hear: "Say what?" he'd yell, over the roar of the old gassy lawn mower.
This was all some years ago now, but she would think back to that, when she was a tree, when she'd quit, and when her daughter began telling her what to do. When their roles seemed to be reversing which left a metal taste in her mouth every time they hung up their phones.
What she'd never told her daughter was about her falling into the web of children at the arboretum, the real reason she'd finally quit; that back then, her balance was already deteriorating. When her grandson, the one fussing in the highchair at the other end of the phone, was still a toddler.
Now he was seven. She hadn't thought about the tree thing until this spring when she'd found herself telling him about it.
"You were a tree?"
"A maple. Just like that one," she'd said, pointing to the big one in her backyard. They'd been visiting for Easter. New leaves were just beginning to sprout.
"Wow. That's kind a cool. . ." He was scraping at the ground with a stick. "Do you believe in moon trees?"
"We have some. In our yard. At least I think they're moon trees...the way they look when the moon is out. Anyway, I hope that's what they are. Because I promised this kid at school I would trade him moon tree seeds for seeds he has from this cool really rare tree, I guess, in his own yard."
"What kind of tree does he have?"
"Not sure. But it's supposed to be the only one on earth..." He shrugged. "He has a chicken coop too. When we had chicks in school, he took them home to their coop." He finished his drawing. It was a dragon. With two heads and breathing fire.
"Anyway, yes," Marge said.
"Yes, what..." He was distracted now, crouched over his dirt drawing, adding tiny clawed feet.
"I think there is such a thing," she said, vaguely remembering something about seeds being taken into orbit and then brought back to be planted on earth. Whether or not she learned that at the arboretum or just had it stored up with other odd bits which come with age, that she didn't know. Or remember.
"I do believe. In moon trees," she said, with a surety that she didn't necessarily have about much else.
Thursday, May 10, 2012
She knew the enigma of the aged, before she got this old, having watched in all these years other generations die away on the street. The last of them before herself, had been Mrs. Canister who used to live on the corner, and for years was only seen to let her dog out on a rope. She always wore a faded blue kerchief, and eventually wasn't even seen driving her rickety rusty sedan up to the grocery store. By the time she died, her house was peeling and engulfed by weeds.
It was an early spring, but already her own grass was encroaching on the house. So were the weeds. When she was able, she would have on a whim run outside and ripped them up by the fistfuls to toss them back into the woods. Now she could barely pull up her own socks let alone pull up the most superficially rooted weed.
She would spend the day calling newspaper ads for someone to come and cut her grass. To weed the driveway. And she would open wide her slatted shutters to let in the sun. And hope that once she was gone, her children wouldn't do what Mrs. Canister's had done, sell the house to be bulldozed down to its original earth, once potato fields that she herself could actually remember. She could remember digging a hand firmly into the earth and pulling out a potato and boiling it for dinner.
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
In fact, most days it's me turning out lights no one else thinks to, most likely bathroom ones.
And some days people might actually like me not to walk into the room at all, knowing I may nag them to pick up dropped socks, old popsicle sticks or cheese-stick wrappers.
Though this time, I wasn't walking into a room; just into the small shack of our local farm stand. For my weekly purchase of apples, and pears and greens. In my house-clothes as I hadn't been out all day, and what the heck, who would notice me at a farm stand in my gerbil sweater (they're favorite to climb around in) and dirty muddy winter boots even though the spring sun finally had surfaced again.
He did – the one who lit up. "SO good to see you!" He grinned. A toothless one I might add. He was old enough to be my father if he were still alive, his face leathered from years in the sun. A pack of cigarettes hung out of his top shirt pocket.
He was unpacking a carton of organic apples. Other times, I'd seen him sweeping out the donkey stall. (Yes, this stand has a miniature donkey and one who bites. Plus two goats and a peacock.)
He couldn't stop grinning. "How are you?"
Look, let's face it. As a-stay-at-home-forty-something-perimenopausal mom who most days is shuttered inside a chaotic messy house, I'm easily flattered. He worked at the stand, and last I'd been in there was at Christmas for our tree. He'd trimmed the trunk and tied the tree to the top of my van. "Anything for you, Gorgeous." Then he'd stepped back to take one last good look at me. "Really. You could be a model."
"Sure. In those boots and that coat, and that hair...look at you. Just beautiful."
Back then, I must have had somewhere nice to go or was coming from. Because I guess I had been wearing nice boots and a nice coat. And done something with my frizzy nest?
At best these days, I can feel like some "gorgeous" insect he might unearth from some plant he'd be potting for their spring sale. But today I left with my bag of fruits and greens, shuffling along in my dirty old snow boots feeling, well, beautiful.
Monday, May 7, 2012
Instead, Marge was cast as a maple. Yes, she had rich red leaves come fall and all that. And flowers too, though spindly and too delicate for her own taste. But she was not even a sugar maple. Just an ordinary maple, like the one in her own backyard.
Still, "I am a maple," Marge would enunciate loudly, as she stood beside the real one, with her maple paper script in hand, facing whatever group of elementary school squirmy kids arriving at her station; having trekked from tree to tree through the arboretum, the children were more interested in picking scabby elbows. Fact was, they too found the maple ordinary.
Like her, all the other arboretum trees seemed to be represented by aging arthritic widows; or so it seemed, when they'd first introduce themselves at the tree-training session. Going around in a circle, it actually could have been some grief therapy group. Some wore orthopedic shoes, and Marge wondered why in the heck they would volunteer for a tree-standing position, even if it was only for a couple of hours thrice-weekly.
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
The boys were washing Gramma's car. Even though the old blue Dodge, its battery long since dead, seemed less a car than a dinged-up ornament in her driveway.
Ryan, with the relatively useless whisk broom Gramma had give him to sweep the floor matts asked, "Why are we cleaning your car, anyway, if you can't drive it?"
My mother's license had been temporarily suspended. Spectators to the car-washing, my mother and I sat outside in fold-up chairs on the lawn.My boys like washing cars. They probably wouldn't have been asking the "why" if Gramma hadn't vented a bit too loudly for big little ears, what she had vented at the optometrist who had dared to suggest she may not be able to sign the DMV mandatory eye-test form: "If they take away my license, I'll have a stroke."
Sunday, April 29, 2012
When he was five, he hoped the Easter Bunny wouldn't leave the usual cutesy stuffed rabbit thing sticking out of his basket.
'I really hope I get a zebra instead," he'd said one night before Easter, at bedtime when his mother lay next to him. When they'd whisper dreamily in the veiled glow of his seashell nightlight.
His mother listened best to him in this veiled light, better than when she was making dinner and he tried to show her one of his new magic tricks. "Incredible," she would say, but he always could tell her attention was more on whatever she was stirring in some pot.
Saturday, April 28, 2012
Friday, April 27, 2012
He liked that no one knew. That he could see through things. That he not only had night vision, like the owls he heard lying in bed at night, but x-ray as well. That he could see through to the bones of a dinosaur, like the ones in the Museum of Natural History. Seeing those, he'd pretended that they were actually alive and only he could see how those razor-sharp teeth were set in their massive jaws.
And he liked to taunt his brother with his special x-ray gift.
"Sure," his all knowing-older brother would say, rolling his eyes.
"I can. I can even see your clavicle."
This made Big Bro look up from his little Nintendo DS screen. "My what?"
He wasn't sure actually where he'd picked up that word. Certain words just stayed with him, like pebbles he'd collect along the road – only some made it out of his pocket to his desk, the rest lost in the washing machine.
"Clavicle," he said, pointing his neck. He really wasn't sure exactly where it was but it was up there somewhere...
"Oh." Big Bro turned his attention back to his little animated screen. "Sounds like...some kind of spaceship or something."
He could see through his mother too. But he didn't tell her that. Maybe because when he was able to see through her was when she was looking worried, as she would when she'd feel his forehead for a fever.
But in these worried-looking moments, she'd only be doing something like picking the dead petals off her geraniums. He both wanted her to see him seeing through her, and he didn't. Because what he saw was what he saw when he actually could see through something. Something fragile like a new green leaf he'd grab off a tree and hold up to the sun. When he could see through to those delicate tiny veins. When with the next breeze, the leaf would be whisked away.
So with his mother, he wished sometimes he didn't have that gift for x-ray vision.
Just the night one. When, if he were an owl, he would be able to swoop down on a mouse with the speed of a bullet (he knew what they ate from the owl pellets they got to dissect in school).
Thursday, April 26, 2012
I have all these wool skeins that need to be wound into nice neat balls. I hadn't gotten around to the winding, as it seemed a monotonous task. I'd rather spend ball-winding time weaving, with my looms, caught up in that rhythmic relationship of warp and weft.
But I live now on the edge of a grief that frightens me. As it did yesterday, as I stood on the expansive stone steps of the DMV, where my mother had been called in for a mandatory road test, after mistaking the gas pedal for the brake and driving into the wall of a carpet store.
Climbing those massive stone steps had been an ordeal, as she has weakened and her balance is precarious.
And now as I was navigating her back down them, she was unravelling: "They don't understand. I won't go far. I just need to go the store. When I run out of milk. Eggs. Why can't they understand that?"
She'd failed the road test miserably. I was not surprised, but neither could I have ever been the one to take away her car keys.
She'd had to surrender her license. She'd had to slide it across the counter. I'd caught one last glimpse of her picture, a younger self.
She gave in to the unravelling. We stopped on a stone step. She leaned into the metal railing and began to really cry. "I'm a nonperson. I feel like a hollowed out piece of wood. I'm not a person anymore."
I held her elbow to keep her steady, but I had no words. I could not console. I was too locked up in my own grief of watching my life-long muse and best friend unraveling.
Metaphors can cheapen hard truths, but truths perhaps otherwise that are hard to express. So you could say aging is the unravelling of a once tightly woven ball of yarn.
But I'm not looking to cheapen this post, nor my grief. Only feeling I need to learn ways of coping with that grief. Grief, I now realize, does not necessarily commence the day someone actually dies. It's already here. It weighs heavily even as I type.
And yesterday, once I was back home, I could find no solace. But I was desperate to seek it out. And I found it. By the grace of sheer monotony. Of finally winding at least one skein into one ball of yarn.
Originally, I was going to cheat and just post here my Writer's Weaver's Tale, as I couldn't resist all those Ws. So here it is anyway: http://sandrasfiberworks.blogspot.com/p/writers-weavers-tale.html
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