Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Am I in Fashion?

Before this picture has you shouting OMG YES ARE YOU EVEN KIDDING?? SOOOO in fashion! let me slow you down.

While I may be your friend and therefore you want to uplift me with kindness, let's not kid. If you're reading this, you find something about me that is like you, someone who still pages through May 2012 magazines in their gynecologist's office to check if bump toe boots are still in. So let's reframe the question:

Am I in fashion for this season in America.

By this season, I mean Trumpocalypse*.

I don't just want to survive the next four years of a Trump presidency, I want to thrive. And that means hunkering down with what I'll need: purpose, community, solidarity. Needing to see who's with me and me calling back to you in a nod from my water resistant warm yet multi purpose scarf. My fashion choices will now say to you, you are beautiful and yeah I see you over there with your straight back, reminding yourself to breathe breathe breathe. 

I'll say it without the Tshirt:

It's not over yet.
Keep trying
#Resist (although I'm not scratching off the #Resist Tshirt idea. I like it)

I will look like the ever prepared Girl Scout, only older and more awesome. I will be the one dressing in the words until I begin to believe them: It's not meaningless, it's not too late, you won't stay in bed forever.

The call out of my efficient use of corduroy. The sturdy nod of my canvas black jeans. The boots with a heel, square and durable, that mean business. A belt that is not military grade weave is no belt at all. This Trump age is going to be polarized politics. There is no way we can deny what we hear and see. Ya can't gaslight me is what I'm saying. Some are dressing in flower-splashed celebration. I'm going ready-for-action wear.

I used to know that patterns could be repeated when you hinted at them in another accessory.
I followed hem line lengths and could spot a two season out of date toe style from across the street. I could discern a $15 dry bar blowout from a $300 keratin treatment. Now, it's what are you up for that will have my eyes following you as you pass me on the street. I will recognize you without knowing you.

Can you do with a sensible heel you found at a thrift store?
Are you able to smooth dry your hair on your own and be fine on the days that the frizz is your only option?
Can another household members socks pinch hit when you have to evacuate within seconds?

If so, you're my people.

So, continue on with your fashion choices, whether in style or in preparedness. I'll find you.

Your corduroy pants and unisex V-necks will be the SOS I'll pick up.

See, I have no worries, because in this new age of Trump, we're finding that good-to-go is the only Vogue we need.

Who would have guessed, it turns out I've been using fashion wrong my entire life.

*Entire wardrobe above from local Goodwill: truth.


*trumpocalypse: lifted from a PM with my friend, Vikki Reich.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Dear Child: You'd Like a Christmas Countdown Calendar? Here You Go

December 1:  Get a head start and begin thinking of what you're going to lovingly gift your mother with for Christmas.

December 2:  Practice saying this: "Happy Christmas morning, most beautiful of mothers!"

December 3:  Welcome me home when I get home from work today with an I LOVE YOU MAMA! and inform me of all your good acts of housecleaning performed in my absence.

December 4:  Smile back, no matter what I say to you. Unload the dishwasher. SMILE. Please take out the recycling. SMILE. Time to brush your teeth for early bedtime. S-M-I-L-E .

December 5:  Thank me for all the things I give you.

December 6:  Let the kindness of your words roll off your tongue like silk: May I help you with dinner, please dear mother? Would you like me to set the table, queen of my heart? Oh, I forgot to put away the groceries for you, loveliest of the mothers.

December 7:  Tell us how deeply satisfied and content you are with our pristine knowledge in knowing just what you need to be happy and no more.

December 8:  Be grateful for the instant oatmeal breakfasts and microwave cheeseburger lunches.

December 9:  Seek me out and then lead me to the sofa, offering a pillow to prop up my tired legs. Coming to find me with slippers in hand is bonus points.

December 10:  Sit and let me read the books to you that you loved when you were three. Offer me a tissue when my eyes well with soppy nostalgia of how we once shared in both adoring Piglet.

December 11:  Be patient today. Take note that I did not begin this sentence with the word "Try."

December 12:  Love me when you don't like me.

December 13:  Buy chocolate in secret and leave it around the house like puppy treats.

December 14:  Say "Yes" to everything I say today and then add "Because you are in charge."

December 15:  Eat my carrot salad and tell me you wish we had a bigger bowl in the house so I could make more!

December 16:  Take me for a walk, like a favorite old pet that needs exercising.

December 17:  Look at me with affection, like you do a favorite old pet.

December 18:  When I pass your bedroom tonight, let me hear your fervent prayer to God above to bless me, keep me safe, and grant me a long life.

December 19:  Your project today is to learn to use the coffeemaker. That's fine if it takes all day because this is a lifelong skill that will win you friends and help you find your people. 

December 20: You have 24 hours to give me 5 kisses: one each for the days left on this awesome Christmas Countdown Calendar made Just For You.

December 21: Today is not too early to deliver a love poem written in dreamy eyed love for your mom.

December 22:  I like my toast buttered to the edges on barely browned bread. Thank you.

December 23:  Day off. You earned it. But don't let your guard down.

December 24: Back to work. Get your dad to the store to buy his wife her Christmas present.

December 25: You Have Made it.

Thank you for asking for this. I know it will enrich this holiday season for you as it will for me. In fact, I don't think I ever remember a more wonderful countdown to Christmas.

Merry Christmas, my child. I love you.
* * *

Thursday, December 1, 2016

When The Mirror Isn't You

I leave the house by 7 a.m. every day. I need to be at work where I spend my mornings with three and four year olds. This means that I'm getting ready in a rush. Sure, I set things up the night before, but even with the breakfast bowl I leave out for my oatmeal and the coffee pre-measured into the coffeemaker, I still end up sliding through the house because we all know that time bends on the short side with mornings. I look for my boots. I shout out for my gloves. I call out to my purse. I hunt down my car keys that like to hide on me.

Just before I open the back door and head into the garage, I stop for three seconds to check myself in the mirror. Any yogurt drips on my chin? Any hairs that need to be pressed down? How about that top I'm wearing, does it maybe dip down a little bit too much when I bend over to help them cut their papers?

I don't spend much time looking at my face. I've stared at it for decades and know just what there is to see: circles under my eyes, stubborn grey hairs that won't stay spit-down, and lips begging for some moisturizing care. I give myself a once over, and even though I look like I need two more hours of sleep, I'll just have to do.

I am at work by the time I am supposed to be, and when I walk in, my kids are waiting for me.

Beautiful three and four year olds who rush up to ask me their important questions.

"Do you drive?"

"Did you go trick or treating?"

"Do you dance in the shower?"

"Have you ever been a mom?"

This is what they want to know, and when they ask me, it's with eyes set to my face, with eyes that don't blink until they hear me answer.

"Yes, I do drive. It's how I got here to take care of you."

"Trick or treating? I do it inside my house, WITH MY SON'S CANDY!"

"I do not dance in the shower. Because I am careful. Like you should be too. So never dance in the shower!"

"I have been a mom. Three times!"

I used to wonder why they asked me the things they did, until a moment of white hot illumination where I could see just what it was that they really wanted to know.

"Are you old or young, teacher, are you old or young? We can't tell."

I laugh, but want to ask my own questions back. "You can't tell?" I can't help but giggle because I think how I certainly can, and I remember my reflection from just this morning as I passed through my back hallway.

But they can't tell because they don't see me with the tired eyes of time, of so many years spent on this earth. Their eyes, barely over a thousand days old.

I look from where I am, standing feet above them. I see eyes as clear as a winter night looking up to me. They shout over each other.

"Did you have marshmallows in your oatmeal today?"

"Did you remember to wear the same color socks again?"

"I hope your mom packed you a brownie today, like mine."

I tell them that yes and how did they know, that I did have marshmallows in my oatmeal, and my socks are the same color but two different kinds, and that sadly-though it's taken me awhile but on some days I'm almost OK about it-but I don't have a mom to pack me a brownie.

My last answer gets a gasp from them.

They are young, they love me, and I cave into their love for me.

I am the woman who takes care of them, and in our mornings together, I forget about the mirror by the back door at home.

The mirror that forgets to ask if I danced in the shower that morning.
* * *

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Friday, November 4, 2016

I Don't Know What Kind of Free Range Chicken '70s Childhood People Remember But Mine Was Survival

See this nice playset? The chains are plastic encased, like a latex wrap, around each link so that there are no pinched fingers, no accidental scrape from a rusty spot that will develop into tetanus while your precious angel sleeps.

The tire has rubber brackets sealing the rivets that fasten the chain so that your child's thighs don't come into contact with a nasty metal edge. Farther over, to the right of this photo, is a 'horsey' swing, but it's minus the metal horsey head that sometimes became jagged along the mane from exposure to the elements.

Of extreme note is the soft and supple swing seat, the kind of bottom-hugging provided so different from the flat slats that see-sawed you off if you sat in them too quickly.

This is a safe playset. I'm sure there was some sort of play-lab situation where clip boards and white-lab coated researchers were called in to take note of possible injurious situations. This is my kids' playset and this is their life in the 2000s.

Now, my childhood, the one from the early '70s, was a different one from the things that have been written about with regard to growing up before so much child injury and safety obsession.

I read what people remember from this time, the afternoons spent uncaged and unsupervised, and the words are cast with undeniable wistfulness for the free range days of the past.

I don't think that was a good thing. Because when I sit back and place myself in the days before needing deodorant and Clearasil, it's not with the same sighs of nostalgia of these '70s remembers. I sigh, loud and in disbelief, for the number of times we were in the emergency room. Stitches, casts, ace bandage wraps, and being woken every two hours in the night after a head injury. I don't recall free range but I do recall the free fall of those days.

You'd think my question would be Why would my mother buy us plastic guns that shot out corks, bows that did indeed shoot arrows--rubber tips do nothing to tone down the sting of a target hit, bouncy balls the circumference of an electric car and that sent you face down into coffee tables, and rusty gougey untethered unsafe, backyard play sets? Why? Maybe with that last one, I might be able to understand: dirt cheap light weight cash and carry aluminum.

I was talking to a friend this morning, and as conversation goes with good friends, we went from hello how was your coffee to "OMG Do you remember the dangerous toys we had?" in three texts.

Did you have the kid coffee percolator?
OMG Yes.
How about the lawn jarts?
Sweet Baby Jesus we had them too.
How about that dangerous red bouncy ball you rode?
And the clackers that your brothers had that could crack a skull from across the street?
Yes. Both. The clackers and the brother that almost took my eye out.

I look at the safe and reassuring playset above, and think of my children on the day this structure went up. They watched from the kitchen windows while three workers hammered things into place, and after 10 questions of Can we go out yet? Is it done yet? It'll be done today, right? I gave the go ahead and my kids shoved their way out the kitchen door and had at it, not a worry in the world.

That was 15 years ago, and the playset is as safe now as it was that first day. We've had no reason to take it down either.

Contrast what my children's playset memories will be to the playset of my childhood, a metal seat and rod delight that lasted from Friday night to Saturday evening.

It was a saddle-like looking pumping station, made up of four seats. Each seat radiated out from the center and in front of the seat was a handle. You pumped, all four of you, as hard and as fast as you could and the seats would twirl around and now we know why the box was marked with a name I know I will never forget, Twirly Bird.

The first Friday afternoon, we set out to pump. Young, cautious, by Saturday afternoon we had become careless. I'll bet you thought I was going to say braver, maybe confident. Nope, we didn't respect the power of the spin, so careless is what we were. All four of us set to pumping, spinning, pumping, spinning faster, pumping, twirling, going going going spin spin spin! Until the pull became too much for a 42 pound weight of a little girl temporarily mad with spinning power and I (was there any doubt who that little girl was) went careening off my saddle seat and my small pinhead barely missed the cement block foundation of the basement of our house. I landed four feet away, on my back, staring as much as I was able, into the blue summer sky, cumulus clouds overhead, so serene and in juxtaposition to the terror I was unable to voice as I gripped the blades of grass with my fingers, desperate for them to hold me to the ground and keep me from falling in the sky above or below. I was as befuddled as a pilot in a pitch black night flying over an ocean. I could no longer discern up from down.

Next to drop like a shooting star was my brother. My little sister was tossed off like one of those white haired dummies on the shelf at a carnival. We were dropping like flies and after my brother threw up the green Kool-Aid we had had for lunch as he was sent projectile to the other side of the yard, my mother was done. She had the tenant from the floor below dismantle the Twirly Bird and she didn't tell him to take care with it, as I recall.

The Sears purchase was placed curbside, not even donated to a thrift center. My mother did not want any other child plucked into the atmosphere against their will again.

I tried to find a picture of the Twirly Bird for this post. I googled "World's most dangerous toys." I tried "World's most irresponsible toys." I searched "class action lawsuit toys." I tried "vintage but deadly toys."


The thing is, I know the Twirly Bird was real. The memory I have of complete disorientation is one no one forgets.

That Twirly Bird was real, as real as I'm sure the days of the '70s that others remember as free wheelin' exploratory fun.

Free wheelin' for them, but free hurling through space, for me.

Hurling, definition: the act of throwing or casting, usually with great force or strength. See: Twirly Bird.
* * *


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