Sunday, December 30, 2012

Say Cheese!

Reading something recently, the piece stated the author was from Belarus. Something in my gut said Slavic (the woman's sir name possibly), but I could no more picture or remember a country called Be-lar-us. My last formal geography lesson was 1967 when Russia was the United Soviet Socialist Republic, and all those little countries were clumped together in a big pink blob on the map.
My memory on a good day is like Swiss cheese. I sit on the aged block of yellowing, curdled milk and contemplate the holes. In comparison, my engineer husband has a perfectly symmetrical mind, filled with boxes, stacked for easy sorting. Like an aging Alice, I jump into one of the holes and ask my spouse, "Where's Belarus?"
Of course he answers immediately, "It's part of Russia," correctly pronouncing the name (byel e roos). In his mind he sees the shape of Belarus and which countries it borders.
"How do you know that?" I demand, standing in the shallow, smelly hallow, wishing I had some crackers.
"I look at maps."
I continue my quiz, wanting to know the last time he saw Belarus on a map. I have the small satisfaction he can't quote a date and time.
Memory is a wonder to those of us who operate daily without one. Sitting and chewing the cheese, I realize there's a reason for the haves and the have-nots. My world functions on imagination while the memory people of the world rely on their neat boxes. Life would be dull for those poor spherically-challenged slobs, if they didn't have us cheese heads mixing up the symmetry with concentric ideas and circular fiction.
So while my  husband opens his boxes with care, I will continue to rip mine open, leaving a trail of torn paper and ribbon, wearing the bows in my hair to cover the holes.
Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Christmas Present

I just finished a book my daughter-in-law gave me for my birthday called The Family Fang, written by Kevin Wilson.  An intriguing read, I recommend it as a stocking stuffer, especially if your gift-getter likes wacky, thought provoking humor.
The story revolves around two grown children whose artistic parents' love for the avant-garde has shaped their lives for good and otherwise. Raised as child A and child B, props and pawns in their parents disturbing performance art, they leave the nest running, in search of normal lives. Flashbacks reveal a childhood of family outings in crowded malls, a favorite with the Fang parents, where staged performances elicit the worst of human nature from unsuspecting passersby and create chaos--the only true "art." The children feel sad (and a kinship) for the unwitting audience that is video taped and used in the elder Fangs' abject art to procure grants and fellowships to produce more and wilder performances. Chaos dogs the adult children, as poor life choices ultimately bring them back home to face their art and their fears.
The author does a great job suspending the reader's disbelief. I found myself laughing out loud as the parents torture their children with embarrassment for art's sake. Wilson masterfully pokes fun at all the arts through the lives of The Family Fang.

The link below is performance art at its BEST--a Holiday Gift to you. Peace.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Holiday Preparations

The space heater whirs at my feet. A red cinnamon-apple candle smells delicious. The artificial tree, just decorated yesterday, feels fresh. Old scared, scratched ornaments, inherited hand-me-downs, crocheted Santas and wreaths, children’s art projects, bread dough Clauses and gingerbread men—dates penned on their backs, adorn our sentimental corner of Christmas.

I’m late this year. Hauling the decorations down slowly from the attic, one plastic tub at a time, I’ve been searching for my Christmas Spirit. “Joy-filled,” we are told, yet the season seems lacking amid school shootings and church statues smashed. My friend’s mother died, reminding me of my own sweet mother’s passing. Thinking of friends sick in the hospital or nursing homes, I’ve been fighting the urge to stay in bed.

This year our children and grands are circling the tree to celebrate after the New Year. This has left more time for preparations, yet it seemed I was caught in an invisible tangle of tinsel, drawn up like cuffs around my wrists. In my youth I had it all under control, scheduled—marching orders written and performed to the tap of the little drummer in my head.

This past weekend, in lethargic desperation I decided to accomplish ONE TASK—mail a box to the relatives up North. It took two days, but this accomplished, the Holiday cuffs felt looser. Yesterday, I awoke and pulled the covers over my head, thinking—only a week away and no cards have been sent. Guilt crawled under the covers and tugged at the tinsel. Remembering my earlier ONE TASK premise, I got up, grabbed the first card on the stack, wrote ONE line, and signed my name. At 5:30 am on my way to the gym, I mailed my first holiday card. I shook the tinsel to the ground and decorated the tree in the afternoon.

Today I’m enjoying the stockings hung on the mantle and the musical snow globe sparkling in the morning sun, but there’s one more tub that must be procured from the dusty attic. A spot has been cleared, ready for the crèche, prepared for the Baby.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


It's cold. The sun is shining outside, but the humid Louisiana air chills my fingers and neck. Damp-cold, like a curse word.

The trees on the far bank of my river shiver their reflection in the brown water as it trembles along. The silver-dollar sized leaves of the pear tree chatter to the ground from the slow breath of the North wind.

My old terrier licks her arthritic paws. Blue eyes beseeching, I give her a doggy ibuprofen. It's time to scavenge the closet for the space heater before we both turn into ice cubes.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Living Word

Happy Hollidays Y'all.

Jonah 2: 1-10 paraphrased
I remember praying to the Lord my God from the belly of my selFISHness, saying,

 “I called to the Lord out of my distress,
   and he answered me;
out of the belly of the refrigerator I cried,
   and you heard my voice.
You cast me into the back,
   into the mass of leftovers,
   and the food surrounded me;
all the syrup and salad
   covered over me.
Then I said, ‘I am driven away
   from your sight;
how shall I look again
   upon your holy temple?’
The Tupperware closed over me;
   the gravy surrounded me;
spaghetti was wrapped around my head
   at the bottom of the bowl.
I went down to the crisper
   whose drawer closed upon me forever;
yet you brought my life up from the Pit,
   O Lord my God.
As my life was ebbing away,
   I remembered the Lord;
and my prayer came to you,
   into your holy temple.
Those who worship vain idols
   forsake their true loyalty.
But I with the voice of thanksgiving
   will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay.
   Deliverance belongs to the Lord!” 

Psalm 55:22 paraphrased

Cast your crap upon the Lord,
for he will take it and fertilize the most amazing fruits in your life.