Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Making The Bed

My grandmother taught the "hospital corner" as The Way to make the bed, a crisp fold in the sheet, everything laid flat and smooth as a mathematical plane. She implied that there was no other Way. She implied that a bed made without a "hospital corner" was not, technically, made.

But my life quickly became not linear. "The throw and forget" was what I did with the duvet.

Now it falls on me to be the teacher. I've surprised myself. I tell my children: "Make your bed. No, not like that, a nest for a rat, surrounded by old smelly blankets and Batmen." I tell them to make it smooth. Smooth, crisp, neat. I used to not care for these words either.

I watch them sulk and struggle with their comforters, and I say, "Watch." What I'm saying is soon their lives will be eagle's nests, bulky, and unclean with sticks and fishbones, and I will keep the beds made, while I can, a distraction from the wilds, and a possible route for return from them.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


There is a tire-rutted road behind the barn on campus, which fills with water in the spring. The frogs think it's Plato's Retreat, New York City in the 70s.

I came across a couple, so entwined that even when I frothed the water with a stick, they just blinked.

I came back a few days later, and the pool was filled with tadpoles, like toddlers in the sandbox. I brought an empty yoghurt container, scooped some up, took them home to a makeshift aquarium and have spent the last week stupefied by their transformation before my eyes. O Nature! O captain my captain! There must also be some kind of plan for me, I hope, also to grow, and to change?

The tadpoles have gone from looking like sperm in that 70s movie The Miracle of Life, to now - when they have a noticeable spine, and are sprouting leg buds. I got a booster shot of nerdliness, spending a hour looking at them while the kids were in school with a magnifying glass, in the sunlight. I said to myself, I'm like Jane Goodall of frog spawn.

Appreciate. It's a miracle. A mundane, tire-rutted road miracle, same as we all are, but none the less.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

#readingfail: Famous Novels I Never Finished

On the list of #readingfail: Famous Novels I Never Finished are The Grapes of Wrath and The Great Gatsby, yet somehow I zinged my way through The Scarlet Letter.

One woman's embroidered letter of shame that she wears on her bosom is, I guess, another's reading pleasure.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dinnertime Yoga

Pose Of The Spatula: Lie on the couch, considering that none of your kids will eat green beans.

The What Kind of Mother Are You: When they say, "What's the green thing in the cheese sauce?" say innocently, "What green thing?"

Trikanasana or Triangle Pose: Cut the crusts off white bread, slather on peanut butter, weave broccoli into the conversation.

Pigeon: Coo. Coo. Cooo. The brownies are made with blackbeansandzucchini. Say it real fast and it sounds like "expensive single origin Dutch-processed cocoa, Mommy loves you so much."

Corpse Pose: Fish nuggets.

Pose Of The Non-Stick Pan: Slide easily to the floor, like the fried eggs that everyone said they wanted for breakfast but after you made them, nobody wanted.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Big Pharma

In college, studying post-structuralism, and the literature of unknown women writers of the Caribbean, and the concept of "birthing trees," I used herbal tinctures, roots and tubers; I fancied myself an Appalachian curandera, thinking maybe I could cut the cord with Big Pharma. I made tea bags from muslin.

When I got the flu, I made myself an elixer of garlic and cayenne, and put on a hat to "sweat it out," and maybe have a fever-dream in which Odun would appear and conjure the career path I might take after graduation. Dazed and febrile a few days later, I ended up on antibiotics. Curandera fail.

My life is increasingly brought to you by Big Pharma. It always was. Asthma as a child. (Oh, the inhalers I have had!) Arthritis and TMJ in midlife. Let me show you my pills, you show me yours. We are all here, enjoying what they call "a certain quality of life." Better living through chemistry.

If I could chew on a root and feel better you better bet I would. Except chewing hurts. There's a pill for that. Or if there isn't yet, I hope to the Caribbean, there will be. They are right now isolating compounds from the venom of the cone snail. Holy the cone snail, if it can erase suffering from the face of the earth.