Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Suburban Haiku

I used to be an urban bird.  A darkener of doorways, a reviewer of small press poetry, with a clove cigarette dangling at the right angle to form a impression. I used to live in a crummy apartment Davis Square, Somerville, in the 90s, when Mike's Pizza was the only anchor, before you could conceive of wanting a pour-over of shade-grown organic beans. Before the invention of the Irish bar.

I wore high-top sneakers while proliferating opinions on trip-hop and facial hair. Nothing was gluten free.  A lawn was cyclone fence around a weed-riven half-shell Mary.

What was a suburb? You might as well have been talking to me about the Moon. No atmosphere. I wrote about it here, when I moved to suburban Baltimore like a city pigeon caught in a typhoon and deposited in a completely alien landscape of lacrosse dads, ride-on mowers, throw pillows, patio furniture, and kids who were on traveling soccer teams in utero.

I perching at a Starbucks across the mini-mall from a nail place and place that sold bulk muffins. I tried to get my bearings. Then I found Peyton Price. Her Suburban Haiku was the air the dentist gives you to make you forget the drill. I giggled.

"I greet each morning/ with motivational thoughts:/ Today is trash day." Price serves up the good life with a side of wise-crack ("Three big SUVs/ are parked side by side by side./ 'Mom! I can't get out!'") and the humor of an older sister who had gone to the dogs before you: "Buckle your seat belts./ Our next stop is the other side/ of this parking lot."

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A List of The Things The Dog Has Eaten

1) Kibble. 

2) A boutique pet store chew toy in the shape of a bagel. 

3) A boutique pet store chew toy in the shape of a walrus. 

4) Shepherd's pie my mom made.

5) The left cuff of my vintage 1950s cardigan. I had to pull embroidery floss out of the dog's butt. It was either that or pay a hefty fee to have the vet pull embroidery floss out of the dog's butt.

6) Lord Business' Evil Lair Legos. (Good girl, Sugar! I freakin' hate those things. Here, have the Green Ninja mini-fig.)

7) All the hair off the American Girl doll, Nell. Now my distraught daughter (Mommy! My doll's bald!) has stopped begging me to take her to New York to the American Girl shop at FAO Schwartz.  That's a relief.

8) My Husb's collection of small allen wrenches that he uses to fix bikes on the weekends instead of mulching and refinishing the deck like I ask him to do. Okay, Sugar didn't eat them she just gnawed the handles off rendering them useless.

 I've been trying to do that for years. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014


Are hats in?

Every Spring as I open the box of clothing that I have't seen since August, the so-called Summer Collection by which I mean two skirts, one voluminous and one pencil (I swear by the gods, grit and determination and mineral oil, I will fit into), some t-shirts and a hat.

It's a fedora-style made of straw and dyed blue and with a blue and white grosgrain band. It's adorable! It's just the ticket for pulling together a thing that elusive thing called An Outfit! Outfits are for other people.

My clothes are more of a to-cover-the-nakedness dimly lit crack-of-dawn grab. You can do better than this, my mother encourages me, always pulled together by button-downs and pearls. How about a bracelet? A collared shirt in a color that brightens the exhausted motherhood wan of your skin? How about that adorable hat? she says, nudging me toward it like the calm kindly horse who runs alongside a jittery thoroughbred.  (I had to throw in that horse racing metaphor because, here in Baltimore, its Preakness week. And I was down on the Pimlico rail yesterday. It is my May religion.)

My mother's a fashion plate who doesn't give a fig if hats are in. They're in for her. She makes a point of being seen in the shade of the summer wearing a large straw sunhat with a emphatic bow black bow.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Shelling Beans, Husking Corn

Here's what I'd like to be doing. Something with my hands, outside, in the dappled light, with a group of friends -- maybe gleaning.

I found a painting appealingly called Corn Husking Bee; it's a group of happy people, deep in corn, drinking and laughing and one of them is holding an ear of corn above their head. Triumphant. I have picked this.  Instead, as a writer, I toil inside, alone, and in my head, picking, picking, picking.

How about carding wool? How about Van Gogh's Women Working In A Wheat Field? (See above.)

Shelling beans, shucking corn, scrubbing the beards off mussels I've collected in a beat-up mussel-bucket handed down by generations, in an apron, on my front porch, using the back of my hand to brush the strands of my undone bun of honey-colored hair out of my face (this is a fantasy, and in it I am not going gray).

Instead of first-person narrative non-fiction: I would be out staking tomatoes. The old school femininity of gathering. Growing. Plucking. Placing. Stirring. Putting things into bowls.

Instead, I'm all forward thrust, criticism, feedback, argument, discourse, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead! Mine is not the burbling brook or the song of the lark, but the blaring ooga-ooga of an alarm on a submarine.

I need to surface. I need to open the window and let in the moonlight. I need to plant the fragrant vining jasmine my mother gave me.