December 30, 2015

Rethinking the Broken

(cc: Flickr) by Tina


My garbage disposal is broken. I flip the switch and it just makes a sick noise that is the equivalent of a wild animal that has been injured beyond repair.

My mother came over and I warned her not to put any food down that side of the sink and she gave me a look as if she were insulted, as if I was rude to suggest she would even use a garbage disposal. "You should compost," she said, wrinkling her nose at me.

She's against garbage disposals. All food that can be composted should be composted, she thinks.  She is suddenly interested in vermiculture.

I agree with all this, except I suspect that she is against garbage disposals because hers stopped working too.  Because of a wayward scrubby that got sucked down the drain, chewed up and a large plumbing bill later has left her angry at all garbage disposals as if they are lying in wait just to ruin your day.

When she saw I was not ready to give up on it she offered a solution involving torque and a broom handle. But she said it with little resolve, as if she was just checking the box under "obligatory maternal advice."

I think she is secretly hoping I will finally abandon it and join the revolution of anti-disposal worm farmers who will unite to make the world a better place.


September 27, 2015

Remember Me in 2033


September, 2015, we stood at the edge of the silent street and stared at it, the eclipse of the supermoon, a blood moon. Down the street a neighbor, also in his pajamas stared motionless into the sky. Up the street I heard children running out of their house shouting for their parents to hurry, to see the moon, to see the magic.

My vision was suddenly clouded by a memory of another time, being woken in the dead of night by my grandmother who sneaked me out of bed and walked me, groggy and confused, barefoot down a dirt lane to her house where hot chocolate waited. Outside in the sky, Comet West tore past our planet. I have no idea how it looks in outer space but to a nine year old girl on the surface of Earth it was a fat, smeary star, fuzzy around the edges. The greater novelty was being out under the stars with my grandmother and a mug of cocoa while my parents slept in the house next door, completely clueless as to my whereabouts.

It was February, 1976. Mystics claim that comets portend coming cataclysmic events. That summer my parents would divorce and my life would change radically. But right then there was hot chocolate and magic. As far as I knew, all was right with the world.

But forward to 2015 I stood in the street with my family in a surreal diorama with neighbors, all of us staring entranced at the sky like a scene from a weird sci-fi movie.

I wrapped my arms around my littlest boy, my mouth nuzzled against his ear. "Remember me in 2033 when this comes around again. Be sure to bring your kids outside to watch this with them, okay?"

"I will Mom, I promise."


September 3, 2015

Seasoned Favorites


There is a header at the top of Neil Gaiman’s blog in which a photographic “bust” of him is perched looking out at the reader. He sports his trademark unruly hair and traditional rumpled vibe. But what captivates me at the moment I’m looking are his eyes.

He has bags under his eyes.  A healthy portion of them.

And I think to myself how interesting it is that they are not Photoshopped, not minimized and it thrills me.  It thrills me in the way that I’m thrilled by a plate of real food in the world of processed, fake garbage edibles. Or by someone who maintains eye contact with me during a conversation despite the fact that their phone is dinging with incoming text messages. Or by a friendly moment with a stranger in which you see some humanity instead of the jet trail they leave behind as they race past you like you don’t exist.

I guess I’m talking about authenticity. But particularly with the bodies we wear while we are alive.
There is so much energy and money put into holding back time, to pretending we are not what we are – seasoned, experienced.  Weathered.

Neil Gaiman is weathered.  And it’s awesome.  So was Maya Angelou, Georgia O’Keefe.  So is Margaret Atwood.  But I look at their pictures and I find their faces beautiful because they tell a story.  Those are faces that have lived and seen and done things.  The faces announce, “I’m here and I’m perfectly fine where I am on this path toward Home.” To me there is something comforting in looking at a person like that.

There’s a perverse irony in approaching waning youth armed with scalpels and injectables and other horrors of the invasive shoring up of the body against the ravages of time.  We’ve all seen the plastic surgery fails posts online. The harder you try to fix it, the more bizarre and less human the face becomes until you’re left with a strange mask that resembles much of nothing, a faint shadow of whatever dissatisfied person is left in there.

 My favorites are the bodies that are like old journals, the supple leather ones that are creased and worn. The ones that when cracked open have a thousand scrawled pages of stories inside, that are interesting because they have spent their energy on living and earning every mark they carry instead of spending it on avoiding what is inevitable – that we carry ourselves around in a vessel that is subject to wear, subject to imperfection. Destined for eventual failure.

Some mornings under the harsh light of my bathroom mirror I gently touch the skin around my own tired eyes, nudging them smooth until they look ten years younger, then sigh and let it resume being what it is.  Me.

Beautiful, real me.


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Images from Wikimedia Commons.