Fez

We’ll take separate cars. I’ll meet you there. We’ll be the only ones on a pre-work morning date. Your brew born of some artisan drip (“We probably need a new laptop”), mine Italianly pressed and milked (“Let’s go to Fez and see the Medina!”) then kiss-and-fly goodbye in the parking lot.

This mating pair of doves on the back fence (white prefab, plastic, picket). They fluff and puff for warmth against snow falling from gray to ground. 

Orchid in hair, feathered in to stem the tide of petal longings. Spring still feels far.

Our child of seven years tries on a mic-ed pastor’s passion in her out-loud prayers, “Thank you, thank you, God, for your shining grace.”

 Fat Tuesday party of two for thirteen wedded years. The Biblical reassurance of seven years’ completion which harkens back to scripture read at my father’s table 25 years ago. He draws peace from The Word’s numeric themes. Thank you thank you for your shining grace.

East and West coast Times removed from the West Wing. My friends, your accountability is blooming, shining, taking flight.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Open letter to Amy Krause Rosenthal

When you are a cheapskate and also barely a millennial you can’t justify spending money on an online version of the newspaper. This means being very strategic and pacing yourself with your 10 free articles per month of The New York Times. This weirdly reminds me of that Seinfeld episode in which Elaine has to decide which men are worthy of her few remaining contraceptive sponges.  Yesterday morning I saw your Modern Love essay with the dating profile theme for your husband but I didn’t know it was you. I thought about reading it, but moved on considering it not quite “sponge worthy.”   Later in the day I flipped to the AP news app and saw that it was you and the essay had gone viral. I went back and read it.  Absolutely, it was worth using up one of my free articles.  I had no idea you were dying.  I’m so sorry.  

In 2005 I heard somehow about the upcoming release of your first memoir. This was years before I owned a smart phone or a social media profile.  We didn’t even have internet in our Evanston apartment. Since my new husband and I had computers at work it wasn’t necessary. I may have read about your book in the Chicago Tribune which was still paper then and delivered to our door.  Anyway, something about the way you marketed the book was unique and charming and drew me in.  Even in the book there was a lot to do with interacting with your website, etc.  Wasn’t there something about shipping a homemade pie to a reader? I’m sure you remember it better than me. In any case, I bought the book from your website. It was a delight.  I loved the size of the book and that the book jacket was only, well, more like a vest.  I enjoyed your writing style and that you lived in Chicago and especially your incredible wit. Though I don’t have the book anymore (I know! More on that later.) I remember my favorite encylopediac entry–it was the one about how your brother used to walk around the house with his towel at his chest after a shower instead of at his waist because with two older sisters he didn’t know it wasn’t necessary.  I don’t know why I think this is so uproariously funny.  Maybe because I have one sister and five younger brothers. I don’t know, but it still makes me laugh. Thank you.  

So I mentioned that I don’t have the book anymore.  I loaned it to a friend.  Saddly, she didn’t care that much for it.  She moved several times across the country and managed to keep lugging the book around. There was lots of nagging before I ended up getting it back. Then one happy day it returned to my shelf again. Over the years I, too, moved several times with the book.  Before the my last move, however,  I purged too much of my book collection and donated Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life to the library or gave it to Good Will.  I’m so sorry! What was I thinking?? It was an original printing and I would read it right now again in honor of you if I still had it. 

You have done so much other wonderful work since then.  Now your kids have grown and mine have shown up.  I enjoy reading your children’s books to them more than most others. Your memoirs give your children’s books an endearing context, a good frame, for adults reading to their kids. 

In August I saw your second memoir at Ann Patchett’s bookstore, Parnassus Books, in Nashville.  Remember I alluded to being cheap so I didn’t buy it. But I did put it on hold at my library and read it when I got home.  It was lovely and strattled the realms of traditional paper books and the written words tapped into phones so nicely just as your first one had done in its own innovative way. I like the way your memoirs both impacted the reality of your readers. It’s like you brought back our childhood imaginations with the books’ interactive qualities. Your whimsy made us feel like you invited us all over for the coolest play date ever.  

  I like the tattoo suggestion you ultimately picked*.  As you said in your essay it was so poiniant for a writer robbed of a long life.  But I’m having trouble deciding if that appropriateness is an embrace or a jab.  I guess its open for interpretation. 

So anyway, thank you for living out loud through your memoirs. Thank you for making bedtime reading more engaging for parents.  Your life has been a gift to so many. Your writing life even at this very end is inspiring me to keep writing as a way of living well, of preserving life’s beautiful strange, of offering a crumb, of reminding an unknown reader–even if it is only ever one reader–that we humans are more alike than we are different.

Besides both being Chicago-dwellers I’m like you in one other way. The family we were visiting in Nashville (where I saw your book in the bookstore) was my husband’s sister.  Sixteen years ago she and her friend, whom I’d babysat ten years prior and still made a point to see, decided that we should meet.  So we did.  And like your Jason he is unbelievably amazing–fit, handsome, gentle, compassionate and a great cook. Yours paints. Mine gardens.  I feel completely undeserving and like I won the lottery almost every day. The best guys really do need a little help with love because they are not arrogantly walking around like they are every woman’s dream come true. They are, but they have no idea.  Anyway, I’m so sorry you have to leave him.  My heart absolutely goes out to you. 

Nothing personal, but I hope that we are not alike in death.  My dad’s mom, sweet Ruth, passed away at age 62 of ovarian cancer when I was seven.  My dad and uncles tell me often that I look like her so I’m always slightly on edge that my genes will betray me and I will follow her not just in looks but in how we leave this world. Of course we try not to dwell on these things. But whatever takes me in the end, whenever that is, I will make sure that I’ve left a thick kinetic wave of words in my wake. Per your inspiration I will pay attention and create playfully and test boundaries. I will keep a pen in my hand and a quirky story in my pocket.  

Thank you, Amy, for your life and hard work that so resembled play.

Sincerely, 

Ree

*If you didn’t read Textbook Amy Krause Rosenthal you should. Until then let me explain.  In the book she invites readers to text her suggestions for her next tattoo.  She and the winning reader were to get matching tattoos together.  In the aforementioned essay in the New York Times she said the winning tattoo entry was the word more. So she and the winning reader did in fact meet and get matching more tattoos together in Chicago. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Screwtape’s Apprentice

 Spring, 2015. Scene opens with six men in suits gathered around a large conference table in hell’s most opulent high-rise. The view of the flames below is breathtaking really.  But one gets used to these things.  

Characters: Rugburn (Screwtape’s apprentice) and his right hand man, Rottswell and assorted cronies who bicker among themselves and generally play on their cell phones and tune out as if waiting for a meeting to start but don’t really care.

Rottswell: (leaning in)  So boss, how can we get the Jesusy* ones to vote for our guy?

Rugburn: Easy. We make him pro-life.

Rottswell: What?!  They’ll see right through that. They’ll take one look at his character–at everything he’s done, and left undone, everything he’s said, all of the Grand Master’s investments–and they’ll go for anyone else.

Rugburn: Stop fretting. You’re forgetting about Fox News.  We’ve got this.

Rottswell: Maybe we need to look for somebody else.  Isn’t his guy still giving big money to democrats? How long ago was it that he gave all that money to Senator Chuck Schumer, for example?  How do we get him to him to switch over to a completely different brand of politics without anyone noticing?

Rugburn: Again, Fox News. Also, you underestimate the power of distraction. As for him, he just wants the power. He doesn’t care how he gets it. He’ll run on whatever platform we give him.

Rottswell: With all due respect, most weasely one, not all saints are republicans or even conservative. I mean the Enemy isn’t a republican or a democrat as you well know. I realize it’s in our best interest to obscure these things…But back to my point, despite our 20-year media strategy to withdraw the saints from general public discourse by labeling the media as secular and liberally biased, we can’t assume all the saints are going along with it.  I mean, there are even Christ-following reporters in mainstream media. They make damn effective reporters because they’re so obsessed with truth and [he cringes, can barely say it] justice.

Rugburn: Right, you numbskull. [Rug burn smacks Rottswell on the back of the head. The other cronies in the room look up.] Why do you think we took out Gwen Eiffel? That effectiveness, that accountability, that smile, that work ethic and compassion. She had to go. Disengaging them from mainstream media is half of the equation. They can’t be receiving the same information. It just leaves too much room for interpretation, dialogue and commonality. Separate information, separate analysis equals zero common ground.  Isolate, insulate, fabricate, annihilate. You got me?

*I didn’t come up with this term.  I got it from Anne Lamott. Thanks, Anne.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blood & Bone Duet

“Your mother is a woman, and women like her cannot be contained” –Warsan Shire
“She took as much care as if she had been the mother of us all, and served us as if she had been the daughter of us all.” –St. Augustine, Confessions
“I grew inside my mother the way [my daughter] Katie grew inside me. I came out of her and ate her, just as Katie ate my body, literally, to live. I became my mother in ways that still felt, sometimes, as elemental and violent as the moment when I’d been pushed out from between her legs in a great rush of blood.” –Sara Miles, Take This Bread

Even just thinking of our mothers strips us of our individuality, right? When we think of them we are forced into recognition that we are not our own. Our own flesh and blood came literally from our mother. Her cells made our cells. We spent our first days listening to the beat of her heart, the swell of her breath, the digestion of her lunch. Then after she bore us, as Sara Miles puts it, we ate her body to stay alive. We don’t like to remember that our incredible savvy adult selves didn’t start out this way. We didn’t get ourselves here. Our mothers did.

In some cryptic genetic way mothers giving birth to daughters is like a fractured feminine homage to God the Father betting God the Son.  They are one in mystical, inexplicable sameness.  In some ways our independence from our mothers is illusionary. Hard as we try we are still joined somehow by an invisible umbilical cord (with a few extension cords added for those who live out of state) of same-ness, doing what they did, saying what they said, believing, eventually, even what they believed. It reminds me somehow of the two women in Ingmar Bergman’s film Persona–separate beings and yet hauntingly the same.

My mom is the most humble, genuine, yet passionate woman and also has the best perspective and sense of humor.  When you’re 60 and have been in active-parent mode for almost forty years nothing’s really surprising or that much of an emergency and life just gets refreshingly at ease, or so it seems to be around her.  Appearances truly mean not much to her–the way we all ought to be.  Except in the following ways she is like a sophisticated Parisian:  she will only wear leather shoes (and never wear sneakers for anything that isn’t a workout, which she doesn’t really do anyway, but how many Parisians do you know that exercise?) and designer perfume* and insists on a leather purse.  She’ll use these genuine leather articles for years and not complain. She’ll use every last drop of that perfume. It’s not about maintaining an image or keeping up.  A girl’s just gotta have a few quality things.  I totally get it now.

Mom, I get now why you’d get excited to try to get the stain out of my favorite clothes. It makes us moms feel useful in a very direct way.  We think, I’m super-mom and I alone will save that favorite dress! I will reign victorious against that drippy popcicle. I have supreme stain-removing talent. Watch and be amazed (but the offspring are never really that amazed)! It all makes sense now. Motherhood is full of tedious tasks and delayed gratification too much of the time.  When we get a stain out of a shirt we get real, tangible results quickly and then we get mildly appreciated, but appreciated nonetheless. This is why we love it. Moments like these keep a mom going.

We daughters derive a false sense of power from judging our mother’s most glaring “errors.” My mother had many children, therefore I’ll have just a few.  My mother didn’t make exercise a priority therefore I will.  My mother married young, therefore I won’t. With quiet intent we separate ourselves from our mother’s specific most bothersome ways and hope she won’t notice so as not to hurt her feelings. But mothers know all from the get-go and are merely amused because they know girls judge those they love the most. So in some ways do we end up more like our grandmothers because of how we flip-flop? It’s an interesting thought.

Being an adult daughter around your mother is at once wonderful and difficult. I’m drawn to the honest and humorous ways that writers Carrie Fisher and Anne Lamott describe this dynamic. They get at both the intensely deep love and loyalty we have for our mothers and their tendency to drive us crazy over trivial things. “Normally, I wouldn’t have believed that the person on the other end really was Cary Grant,” writes Fisher in her memoir Wishful Drinking, “but when he told me my mother asked him to call, well that sounded eerily like some bizarre thing my mother would do.” I love that Fisher’s mom, Debbie Reynolds, moved in next door so they were neighbors. After reading Wishful Drinking I’m not at all surprised that Reynolds passed away of a broken heart days after Fisher died. Their relationship was as endearing as it was public perhaps because Fisher had the guts to be so honest about it.

Anne Lamott wrote about impatience with her own mother and their conflicted love in her memoirs, but also fictitiously through characters like Mattie of the novel Blue Shoe: 

“She prayed to see [her mother] Isa through God’s eyes from the inside out. Nothing happened, that was too much of a stretch. So she prayed to see her through the eyes of a friend, the eyes of someone besides her overly critical daughter. Eventually she began to see her mother differently. She saw this gawky, tremulous woman with a badly pleated memory, working hard to keep living independently. She saw an elderly woman cadging coupons so she could pay her own way and not have to ask her skittish children for help. So Mattie stood in line as patiently as she could. She let six people go ahead of her. And by the time her mother popped back out of the waves to stand beside her in line, goggle-eyed and blinky, Mattie’s heart was soft toward her again. Mattie knew this was not clinically a miracle, but it felt like one; or maybe not a miracle, but grace, if grace meant you went from small and hassled and full of hate, tapping your foot with impatience, to holding your mother’s warm hand.”

So as adult daughters there’s the contempt that follows us around doggedly when we are with our moms. Mom, you’re annoying. Now ten seconds later I can’t resist your care and love for me and my kids and my heart swells with comfort and gratitude! Mothers in turn are annoyed by daughters in a different way, a way I’m only nine years into understanding. I imagine that when my daughters are adults and they’re annoyed by me I’ll want their acceptance the way they want mine right now. And I’ll be annoyed with feeling like I still need to worry about them even though they are all grown up. Grandmothers at the salon tell me they still worry about their kids.  It never quite goes away.

These days my mother and I are the kind of duet that gives each other space but looks forward to catching up when visiting. This is not to say that it’s always been a smooth ride. I struggled at a teenager to figure out my place in a private school of stoic, tidy Dutch folks where my friends had only a few siblings and different style of home life.  I was afraid to have friends over at the house because I didn’t want them to see how messy it was, how chaotic. What if I brought friends over and the first thing they saw was my mom nursing in the easy chair? Gasp!  The embarrassment potential was unfathomable. My friends’ houses felt like the Smithsonian, so quiet and clean with the lines from the vacuum still in the carpet as if the rooms were barely used. My adolescence was fraught with these dizzying juxtapositions. Of course my sister and I joined forces and blamed my mom for it all. It’s the job description of teenaged daughters. One of my favorite clients at the salon said of her teenaged daughters last week, “They’re joining forces against me! It’s my dream come true!” She doesn’t mind their criticism and wrath if it means they are getting along and bonding over it.  I get it.

My mom didn’t really ever get along with her mother. She often told me as a child that she loved her because she had to love her and didn’t really like her. This baffled me. I liked Grammarie just fine. She took me to Jewel and bought me a little box of circus animal crackers on a string every time. What was not to like? Their relationship was cordial at best. Maybe that’s why I liked when they played duets during the offertory at church once in a while. They would practice during the week and I would play on, under, over the pews in the gloriously empty sanctuary.  All that busy music wrapped around me–living and liquid–bouncing all around right up to the pine boards of the A-frame ceiling. With my mom on the piano and Grammarie on the organ in opposite corners at the front of the sanctuary they were collaborating, co-creating, and this was good. The sun’s morning glow would set off the lamb and the staff from the blue background in the stained glass window above the choir loft. Together they were getting it right for Sunday and it would be be beautiful.  We were three generations of women alone in God’s house.  In a way, you can’t get more home than that.

I don’t think my mom saw it that way nor do I blame her for that. Her rift with her mother was a common scenario among Baby Boomer girls it seems. My mother-in-law had that kind of distant relationship with her mother as well.  Maybe there was an exceptionally large generation gap at that time. Certainly anything resembling attachment parenting was not the thing in the 50’s and 60’s. These women were knocked out cold to deliver their babies and fathers weren’t welcome in the delivery room.  Bottle feeding was encouraged and considered the civilized new modern way of mothering.  Moms were home with their kids but there were many important conversations that didn’t happen. Things just weren’t discussed.  This seems to have effected girls of that era deeply. Now they are grandmas. They worked hard to not be resentful and bitter, which is easier now that their mothers have died, despite the heartache of missing them still. But those mid-twentieth-century girls raised their own daughters with much more tenderness, dialogue and affection in defiance.  And we are so glad they did.

My mom really is the greatest mom on earth. I know you might be tempted to disagree.  Was your mom nine months pregnant seven times? Did she deliver most of her children without drugs in her own bed?  Did your mom raise said children in the suburbs on a carpenter’s wages and send them to private school? Did she use only cloth diapers? Did she breastfeed toddlers? Did she homeschool five boys until they reached high school and teach 20+ other people’s children piano lessons every week? I didn’t think so–I think you have to give me this one.  I’m 37 and my youngest sibling is 17 and still in high school. That’s a lot of parenting–nearly forty years worth of kids under your roof. I can’t even begin to grasp the kind of servant’s heart this requires, the amount of energy and mental stamina and sacrifice. It’s more than a little amazing. My mom’s way more than a little amazing. Were we catholic (which many thought we were with all those kids) she’d practically be nominated for sainthood or at least one of those Today Show makeovers.

So I’ve been working on this post for a year at least.  I have notes, scribbles of mom-related things that cross my mind at random times paper-clipped to pages of notebooks. This is how writing happens–when you’re doing other things, as Barbara Brown Taylor says.  So a blue scrap of paper says this quote: “You’ve got it all wrong” followed by this: softens us, crumbles the crust.  I have no idea who I was quoting or how it relates to mothers or motherhood, but I like that thought about mothers. When they’re at their best nobody can do as they do.  Nobody can calm, smooth the jagged edges–think ocean waves on broken glass–quite like her. Moms soften the crust that the grit of life has caked onto us. Our warm-milk mothers melt that all away, revealing the tender once-baby flesh underneath–the very flesh she gave us in the first place and nourished with her milk, her body, her soul.

*Bless her heart, she did actually cry at Christmas when my dad tried to buy her imitation designer perfume from Walgreens. He never made that mistake again.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sea Cows & Truffle Fries

“I’m looking for something specific,” she said entering the shop through the french doors that connect our boutique to the one next door. As a shopkeeper this is very good or very bad news. “Do you have those t-shirts that say something like ‘No salt, no sharks, no worries’?”

“Actually, that’s exactly what they say and yes we do have have them,” I said. “It comes in three colors–black, white, or tan.” When she paid for the shirt she went on to tell me that this shirt is a gift for her daughter in Florida. She was going there soon and was so excited to swim with the manatees. Swim with manatees? She told me how in winter the ocean gets too cold for the manatees so they swim into the rivers to rest and stay warm.

As I wrapped the shirt in tissue (very badly, I might add. Is there like a class in tissue-wrapping for retail personell?) and attempted to bag it presentably my curiosity got the best of me. “How exactly do they live in the rivers when they are used to salt water?” I asked. She didn’t know but apparently it’s what they do. I had to know more. And with that a little obsession with sea cows was born.

An hour or so later it was after 1 o’clock at my post in the boutique and I hadn’t had lunch yet. The sun was out though so I was barely noticing.  Winter sun in west Michigan is rare and fleeting and changes your life for those few hours or minutes.  So in from the sun comes, Raina, the server from Nonla, the restaurant next door.  Apparently one of their customers forgot about their double order of parmesan truffle fries–fresh and hot with that magical mystery dipping sauce. The diners were already leaving when it arrived so they said, “Just send them to the girls next door.” I whisked them away to the back room and tried them. Mmmm, love at first bite.  It was very hard not to eat every last one and eat my cold lunch from home instead.

What’s feeding this sea cow obsession?  Is it a way to escape the stinging wind and biting cold reality of the upper midwest right now? In part, yes. I’m jealous of their vacation. Just think of all those manatees hanging out together–mingling and munching and loafing around–in warm spring fed-rivers.  Its like a gentle convention of 2,000-pound aquatic vegetarian aesthetically-challenged teddy bears.  I mean, what’s not to love?

I gleefully brought up the topic of manatees at dinner that night. My daughters, ages 7 and 9, were unphased*. Apparently, I’m the last to know about these manatee migrations. “I love manatees,” said the younger one, “they look like potatoes.” Very true. Potatoes . . . truffle fries. . . 

So it’s two days later.  And I’m still dreaming of those lumpy bumpy Florida mammals swimming so slowly, drifting in the sun together. And apparently I’m still thinking about those fries too.  It’s the place I go in my head to escape the news of the Trump Administration: one more rich, white, unqualified advisor with conflicts of interest being confirmed, talk of building walls and defying Geneva Conventions to ban refugees, of offending leaders of our ally nations and Congress calling back to patch things up, reports of extreme nationalism by Cabinet master-minds that looks a lot like white supremacy.

(Now use your best soothing radio voice:) Manatees…..resting ….in the warm springs….of the Crystal River…beneath palm trees….swaying in the breeze……

Can we board flights and go down there now? Maybe next January I’ll get to go. With the recent crippling of the EPA one shouldn’t wait long.  The manatee refuge and protected areas might very well be turned into a Trump resort before the end of this administration.

Until I am able to meet the manatees I will draw strength from these strong, steady creatures. I’ll remember that at a rate of less than five miles per hour they swim hundreds of miles each year. I’ll remember that they slog through mud sometimes, relying on the sounds of one another to navigate. I’ll remember that in increasing numbers they are knocked out or injured by boats but they keep on keepin’ on.  Often they are found with propellor scars as they are hard to see from boats above them. Though they are endangered, their numbers are holding steady. I will remember that while they spend most of their time alone, when they gather together in the winter they play and touch and enjoy the company of each other. I’ll remember that when the time is right they venture back out into the wild dark sea–salty, vast and strange.

*One of the best things about childhood that a child never appreciates is that by law at no cost to them they get to learn amazing things all the time.  I’m a wee bit jealous that they get to fill their heads with fascinating facts while we adults run around all day with our heads filled with passwords, schedules, shopping lists, work strategies, budgets, to-do lists and political banter, so much banter all while checking our phones 150 times per day. “Did you know,” said the elder child at dinner the other night, “that luna moths don’t have mouths. They only live for two weeks in their butterfly phase before they die and during that time they don’t eat anything.  So they don’t have mouths.”  I love this stuff.  Will third grade take me back?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Michiganian Cinematic Sea Cow Lunch Break

Manistee manatees mingle at midday matinees.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Tufted Titmice

The first time I saw a tufted titmouse at the bird feeder outside our front window was November 13, 2015, almost 15 months ago.  It was the day of the coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris. Over 100 were dead with hundreds injured at multiple locations in and around Paris. Heartfelt sentiment and condolences for Paris saturated traditional and social media. The world mourned with France that day as it did in January of the same year in the attack at Charlie Hebdo: “Je suis Charlie” the free world had cried then. Paris love and solidarity were everywhere. That day of repeated Paris terror in 2015, November 13,  I texted my mother in law, Sally, also a bird enthusiast, to tell her about the titmouse sighting.

Sally: I love thinking of a nice bird visiting with all that has gone on today including in Paris

Me: Yes, today it is a comfort. The way birds often are. Don't you love 
that in scripture the Holy Spirit is often a dove. That birds are 
messengers. To Noah. To Elijah. At Jesus baptism 

Sally: They say doves are the most sensitive of birds 

Me:  Huh. Didn't know that

Sally: If people are fighting in a house and doves are outside they fly 
away

This past Novemember my spouse was out of town for the weekend. It was November 12, the Saturday after the election. The girls wanted me to watch them do a fashion show. Of course they needed to wear my clothes and shoes. Reluctantly, I agreed to it. I sat on the couch, waiting for their grand entrances, trying not to think about the mess they were making of my closet.  I watched the titmice at the feeder while I waited and remembered that it had been about a year since their first visit.  There were three that came regularly now, one seemed smaller.  I really hoped it was their offspring–that our sunflower seed meal provisions nourished their bodies enough, supported the wellness they needed, to thrive and raise healthy young.  With their dark eyes and gray crest–part regal, part rockstar– they are fascinating to watch.  They have their own eating style different from other birds that visit. They take one seed and then perch on top of the shepherd’s hook that supports the feeder. With the seed in their beak they tap-tap-tap the shell away to get to the nutmeat inside.  Its incredible really.  Can you imagine trying to unshell pistachios for your dinner without hands?

The girls wobbled down the carpet steps in my heels, nearly tripping on the hems of the oversized dresses and skirts. They took turns descending the stairs so they wouldn’t have to share the spotlight. Their wide bright smiles pronounced how beautiful they felt. So proud they were to fashion an adult outfit, so pleased to be wearing grown-lady clothes. They were radiant and so glad for me to see them.  It was priceless, a mom moment to savor for a long time.

On inauguration day I saw a tufted titmouse at the feeder before I dashed out to run errands on that cloudy Friday morning. We see them far less regularly in the winter months. Part of me thought the inauguration wouldn’t actually happen–that some legal caveat, some conflict of interest, some blackmail evidence, some sexual assault testimony, some audit, something–would cancel this at the last minute.  I thought perhaps when I pulled into the garage and checked my phone at 12:04 p.m. that Donald Trump would not be live on the internet giving his inaugural speech. But it happened. It happened the same traditional way it did for 44 other men before him.

Two million people marched the day after the inauguration to support the solidarity of women and minority groups insulted without remorse by this new Commander-in-Chief. Wikipedia reports that is was the largest protest in a single day in United States history. There were also protests on every continent all over the world, including in Paris. They were of course the best dressed marchers in their leather and fur and statement accessories, but in a not-even-trying, I-just-woke-up-like-this way. French women always look good (very very very unfair!!!) in that effortless edgy way that eludes American women. My favorite photo was a black and white shot taken by W Magazine*. In it a woman with a funky hat marches under the Eiffle Tower with a sign that reads “Je Suis Nasty Woman.”

Life has a way of coming full circle doesn’t it?  Perhaps before the photographer arrived, this woman was feeding pigeons (did you know they are actually doves?). Maybe they were following her, perching on her sign or on her lovely hat.

 

*I don’t advise looking for the photo. While googling W Magazine for this post I inadvertently saw way more of Kate Moss than I ever care to see. What is it with Europeans and nudity anyway?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment