Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fun in the Shower and other Ironic Delights

Tuesday morning in the shower I was doing this thing I do. First I rub some bodywash all over my torso and arms, then I cross my arms and extend them straight out from my chest, so they form a squarish kind of circle. The idea is to create a large, round disk of soap inside the circle of my arms. I then blow downward on this sheet to form a giant bubble. Every so often a wobbly, misshapen bubble comes together for a split second before popping. I never try more than once. As soon as the sphere pops, which is always and immediately, I repress a twinge of disappointment, rinse off, and go about the desultory business of drying and dressing and acting like an adult. That’s where things were headed Tuesday. I blew down into the soapy sheet, the bubble blobbed into shape momentarily, and then it seemed to disappear in a blink. And, I guess I did blink, because when I put my arms down, there it was: an enormous, perfect, iridescent bubble hovering before me. Verily, a bubble as big as my flipping head. And it was there for an eternity of about 1.5 seconds. The rest of the day, whenever I thought of the bubble, which was often, it appeared to me such a gift that my heart would throb and my throat close. The only word to describe the feeling is delight, a pure shimmering delight.

When I told my parents about the bubble at dinner, my dad said, “hmm, maybe it was an angel,” with EXACTLY the kind of cynicism I would have felt if someone told me this story. And strangely, that ALSO filled me with delight.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Some of this and some of that

It's hard for me to write these days. I think that in changing jobs I lost track of something central to how I've viewed myself for the past 14 years. I'm not sure what that is exactly, but in consequence, I feel newly confused or disoriented in transferring my thoughts into voice--sort of shaky about the voice I hear as I write. Or maybe, I can't think of anything worth filling out with that voice.

I am an undergraduate again and spend my days memorizing facts about the body. I take tests over drug actions and interactions, side effects and adverse effects, peaks and troughs. I learn to operate mechanical beds and tympanic membrane thermometers. I put things in lists and draw charts. I can't think of how to make this interesting.

When I was 12 or 13 and believed that my whole family existed solely to embarrass me, I held my father in the deepest contempt for his appreciation of self-help books. As a college student and then a graduate student, I lowered my eyelids and thought dismissive thoughts about pop-psychology. Now, before I sleep, I read David Burns or pop-Buddhism and try to charm the wrinkles from my brain by thinking about my breath. I wonder: is this getting old or getting dull?

In May, taking me completely by surprise, the Russian asked me for a divorce. He wants to start a family. He tells me that when he sees men with small children at the grocery store he feels pain. Also, my personality annoys him—deeply and in ways that his ESL status prevents him from expressing except obliquely in response to my probing. I suppose these are good reasons not to stay married. Who am I to say nay? I think about how he’d better hurry up and find someone to bear these children, these transmitters of Russian genes, and I wonder why I have no yearning when I see children in the grocery store. Mostly, when I see children I feel dread or irritation, especially if the children are not obviously connected to some nearby adult or are making a loud noise or one that threatens to become loud. The children I know are bright, piquant, and something like frenetic. They create an atmosphere that is exactly the opposite of the dim, dusty library aisles where I have experienced my fullest sense of content. I mean that entirely.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My day and "the like"

At Kaleidoscope today with my mom, niece, and two nephews, ages 65 to 3, I made a mask, a crown, and a necklace. I ran from room to room, like the White Queen in Through the Looking-Glass, terrified a child would go lost. Later, I escaped to the bathroom to pose and make exasperated faces at myself in the mirror. I stayed longer than was seemly. Going home, my four-year-old niece told me that my g's don't turn up enough at the ends; my a's and e's are "crunched." At dinner, I ate a half a slab of ribs, threw my shoe at a crow with a broken wing, and banged on the fence with stick. Kaleidoscope = "a continually shifting pattern, scene, or the like." I am unexpectedly pleased by this phrase, "the like," and the possibility of being like something that is itself unfixed.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Backyard Desmesne

I mowed down the violets in mid-April, and
Cut a swath through the daffodils as well—the blooms
Crisply brown—I pronounced their season finished.
I roared with ruinous glee over dandelions and sent clover
Flying, a burst of wet green, the smell of Neighborhood.
I was machined up, a disaster on legs, the lady and the law,
Ruler of all my backyard desmesne.

June 7, 2010


I sought attics and closets as a child and could often be found under a covered table or tucked behind a door. I hid in corners, under beds, and behind recliners—anywhere dark, snug, quiet, and out of view, as if. As if forgotten places could hold off the loud fading of Adult. As if I were looking for a maximum closeness, some limit or boundary that would batten me up, put a brake on the pulling apart and scattering of self into the world. And now, in rare minutes, in a quiet room at low light, I can still find some solid calm of lonely, a steady holding-it-together in my skin.

June 7, 2010

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Read My New Essay

I have a new essay--on the topic "Blank Slate." The essay appears in the journal Revolving Floor, which I like to think of as the modern day cyberDial.

Plus, I like to think of myself as a modern day Margaret Fuller without the snakelike neck and weird gaze.
Also, the painting above is by George Inness, one of my favorite painters, a Swedenborgian enthusiast and transcendentalist from the mid nineteenth century. Of course.