Our bodies are designed to move. We come to understand the world by exploring it with every bit of our bodies.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Our bodies are designed to move. We come to understand the world by exploring it with every bit of our bodies.
Friday, May 27, 2011
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Man, this has been a challenging month for me. I'm going to blame the weather. Because in my heart and mind and spirit, it has been a few weeks just like that: SUNNY! BEST EVER DAY EVER oh shit it's raining again, not just raining but tornado sirens and debt and unknowing WAIT THERE IS THE SUN, ALL GOOD AND I AM GOING TO BE MORE THAN FINE MAYBE FIND LOVE TOO wait its freezing and I am unsure of WHEW! BEST DAY EVER! HOPE REDUX.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Monday, May 23, 2011
My friend Agostino, a watch connoisseur, discovered this awesome contest called NEVER STOP MOVING.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
By James Pond - Executive Director
We call her Hope. When Hope first came to Transitions, this would be the last name you would have given her. Sold, trafficked and abused at a young age, Hope was treated horribly. The agency that referred her told us that she had not spoken, engaged in activities, or smiled in the time that they had worked with her.
When Hope came to the TLC, she didn’t smile, talk, or show any emotion. We were concerned at the level of trauma she had experienced and what this would mean to her ability to heal. Our staff went to work – ample love, a sensitive approach, and some strategic therapy. Within months, Hope began to smile and occasionally laugh, though not around strangers and definitely not around men.
Hope slowly began opening up and eventually became a new girl, arguing with the other girls, clowning around at the TLC, and having fun. Her laugh was so rare, we all cherished seeing her giggle at things she found funny. Her first trip to the beach was great – seeing her run in the surf with her friends.
A little more time passed and Hope began to express a desire to go to school, so she began attending a private school and is now catching up to her grade level. She still had no memory of family or much of her childhood. We continued to work with her, when suddenly, during a therapy session, she had a breakthrough. She recalled having a sister.
She could remember the details of a place where she had seen her sister, but it was random. One of our staff knew the place. So, the investigation began. Our social workers asked neighbors and people in the community if they had seen her. Following each lead, they moved from place to place – and a pattern emerged. This young girl had been sold, over and over – being moved from place to place.
Within a month or so, they located her. A man in a community was holding her about two hours away from the city. We immediately contacted SISHA, an organization that does quality investigative and rescue work. They worked with our staff to conduct the necessary investigation and determined the best way to get her out. The date was planned and SISHA’s staff coordinated efforts with our staff to get the girl free.
A tough decision was made. Do we tell Hope that we found her sister with the chance that we might not be able to rescue her, or not? After heavy consideration, plus the fact that SISHA felt confident they would be successful, we took Hope with our staff. Summer Twyman, our Clinical Supervisor escorted Hope to ensure her emotional well being and to have some oversight. The rescue went flawlessly; though the trafficker screamed and yelled, drawing more attention to the fact that he was guilty.
The girl was now free and reunited with her sister, Hope. The two girls hugged, giggled and with tear filled eyes, climbed into the Transitions Global van for the ride – home. The two girls cuddled up, holding hands in the comfort of finding the one link to family and a new future – together.
Well I'm going to do it. I am going to participate in a 5-day summer dance intensive in early June with MamLuft&Co Dance plus special guests. I figure it is a great way to celebrate the half-year mark of my Year of Dance and to have some serious fun with awesome teachers.
Monday, May 9, 2011
I tried to read the sweet potato recipe in front of me. I closed one eye to attempt to bring the page into focus to see the temperature at which the casserole needed to be cooked. I took another sip of my wine as though that would help the situation. I went to preheat the oven to the required 350 degrees.
“Shit,” I said, blinking hard, hoping to clear some of the Chardonnay from the neuro-muscular pathways between my brain and my body that were needed to orchestrate Thanksgiving dinner for eight. The turkey was in the oven and would be until at least 6 pm. It was huge, 24 pounds, so there was no extra room for my casserole. I had made a gigantic miscalculation with my menu and was not clever enough of a cook when sober to figure out how to turn a casserole into a stovetop delicacy. “Shit,” I repeated, hands on my hips, staring at the stove and praying for a solution to reveal itself.
I wished I had made friends with my neighbors, any of them. In a TV show, a half-drunk gal like me would laugh at her mistake, call or text a girlfriend (lol!), then tell her husband to go cart the casserole across the street to her friend’s house (they would be going somewhere for Thanksgiving), and cook it there. Crisis solved. But I was intimidated by all of my neighbors, so I didn’t like them and didn’t really speak to them beyond a pleasant, non-committal “Hey there!” every so often, which also was a clue to the fact that I didn’t know their names either.
“Mom, don’t swear,” Jenna scolded. She was sitting at the breakfast bar in the aptly named, ill-conceived great room in which the kitchen was open to practically the entire house, including the family room in which Johnny sat slack-jawed in front of the television playing Super Mario Brothers for the 7th consecutive hour so there was no privacy whatsoever for a bad cook like me.
Jenna was working on an extra credit poster for first grade and had been sketching all morning to perfect the challenging image of Alexander with gum in his hair to visually summarize the bad day-ness factor of the book “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” Jim had left the house early in the morning to go to “work.” I figured he had gone into work for a half hour so technically he wasn’t entirely lying and now he was at a bar staring at their TV hoping that no one would bother to talk to him. His job was to pick up my equally drunk father and bring him to our Thanksgiving dinner. I tried to get my brother to fetch our father but he refused. John was bringing a new girlfriend named Elaine and he didn’t want to give her a bad impression of things before he even got to our house.
“I know everyone is going to be wasted by the time I have to carve the turkey but I am hoping for at least an hour of civility so Elaine doesn’t dump me yet. Please don’t make me pick up Dad,” he begged.
John hadn’t been too lucky with the ladies. I had only met two of his “girlfriends” ever and one of them I’m pretty sure was a bona-fide lesbian. Her name was Estelle and he brought her home with him during Christmas break from his senior year at OSU. He was aglow with dopey admiration for her. She spent the entire vacation on the phone whispering to her roommate on the phone.
“Uh, what’s up with the dyke?” was the assessment I whispered to him when she trudged to the bathroom after they arrived.
“Uh, fuck you,” he replied. “Is he drunk yet?” he had added, the usual query as it related to the status of our father.
John was good-looking enough but was all thumbs when it came to get-to-know-you banter. He was also so desperate not to follow in our father’s drunken footsteps that he was practically a teetotaler so he never got to take advantage of the lubricating effects alcohol had on the clunky machine that is flirtation.
I was still pondering the casserole problem when Millicent came through the front door. “Ding dong!” she yelled. She tottered into the kitchen like the floozy that she was, blowing air kisses and smelling up the place with too much perfume on top of too many cigarettes. “You hoo!” she said to Jenna, knocking on the top of her head. “You hoo!” she repeated to Johnny.
“Ouch,” Jenna said. “Don’t mess up my drawing, Aunt Millicent.”
Johnny didn’t say anything. He was busy trying to flatten a Goomba or to get Mario’s outfit to change colors.
“Shit, it’s cold out there,” Millicent greeted me. She took off her fake fur coat to reveal a way-too revealing sleeveless dress and nude, spray-tanned legs. “Likey?” she asked, pushing her surgically enhanced breasts together for me.
I shook my head at her. She was the original hot mess.
“I don’t know what I’m doing,” I confessed to her. “I should never have offered to do Thanksgiving. I don’t have anyplace to cook all this,” I said.
“Well then let’s drink,” Millicent offered, her solution to everything.
“Seriously,” I said. “I really am in trouble here. I should be able to do this, right?”
Millicent lit a cigarette and pulled one of the breakfast bar stools away from Jenna and closer to me.
“Seriously?” she asked me. “Seriously, how would you know how to do it? Who taught you?”
“No one,” I said.
“You’ve got a dead mom and a drunk dad so ease up on yourself, sister,” she offered. “What are you making there, baby?” she asked Jenna.
“Extra credit,” Jenna said into the crook of her elbow. She hated cigarette smoke and had spent the last year berating all of us endlessly about this terrible habit.
“I try to smoke outside now,” I told Millicent.
“Good for you,” Millicent told me, blowing smoke toward Jenna.
“Stop it!” Jenna yelled, tears in her eyes. “Mom?” she asked, imploring me to act like an actual mom.
“What is your friend’s name across the street?” I asked her.
“Why?” she asked me. She was already suspicious of my motives and she was only in the first grade.
“I was thinking maybe her mom would let me bake this casserole at their house,” I said, as though I was describing a puppy or a new bike.
“Why?” she asked again.
“Because I need an extra oven and we don’t have one.”
“You can use mine,” Millicent offered.
“You live 20 minutes from here and you store liquor in your oven,” I told her.
“Oh,” Millicent replied, thumbing through the mangled celebrity magazine she had fished from her purse. “Well I tried.”
“What in the world do you have on your ... ?” I whispered, pointing to my own breasts to clarify the noun I didn’t want to say in front of the kids.
“Sparkles!” she said, examining herself. “Tis the holiday season, after all,” she offered.
Millicent’s family had moved to Texas after she graduated from college. And while she complained every year about what a cow town Cincinnati was for smart and sexy people like her, she continued to sell wine to restaurants and pick up guys who didn’t want to talk to her after she slept with them. She never even went on vacation. Instead she tanned, complained and drank my wine. She was my only friend.
The doorbell rang.
“Can you get it?” I asked Millicent. I looked at her sparkly, tan breasts falling out of her inappropriate dress and changed my mind. Maybe this was really the girl for John. We didn’t want to blow it this early in the evening. “Jenna, can you get the door? It’s Uncle John.”
“UNCLE JOHN!” she shrieked, practically falling off her bar stool. We had such a small family that any remaining member of it had celebrity status when they visited. “Uncle John, Uncle John, Uncle John, Uncle John,” she repeated as she shuffled her way toward the door across the slippery wooden floors.
“Johnny, you’re going to have to turn that off,” I told him.
“Now?” he asked, as though it was a ludicrous and cruel request.
I didn’t want a fight. “Soon,” I threatened. “Very soon.” I would make his dad do it. I looked at my watch. It was 5 pm. Time for my husband and father to be here and time for me to figure out how to not fuck up the entire Thanksgiving meal. I poured myself another glass of wine.
“Good plan,” Millicent observed. “Wine me,” she said, as though she were still living in a dorm.
“Be nice to this girl,” I instructed. “Don’t flirt with my brother.”
She pulled her top down even further and made a disgusting gesture with her finger down her own cleavage.
“Hey sis,” my brother said, entering the room with Jenna attached to his side. “Hey Millicent,” he added. “Nice dress.”
I gave him a hug while I checked out Elaine over his shoulder. I winked at her. It was not the sort of person I am naturally: one who is filled with breezy hugs and winks for a newcomer, but I was just the right amount of drunk to come off as an easy-going hostess. I saw her clench her teeth together. Her jaw tightening into a fake smile, the kind where the outside of the mouth goes down instead of up and the eyes don’t move at all.
I hated her.
“Lovely home,” she offered. It was obvious she didn’t think this was so at all.
“Sorry for the mess in the kitchen,” I apologized. “That’s the problem with these ‘great rooms,’” I explained, using the air quotes to highlight the irony.
“Do you need any help?” she asked. It looked to me like she would rather poke her own eye out than touch anything in my kitchen.
“That looks delicious,” she observed about my sweet potato casserole. It sounded like an earnest statement.
“Thanks!” I said. “The problem is I don’t have any place to cook it,” I confessed. “Dumb.”
My brother rolled his eyes, signaling, “this is boring, I’m out,” and plopped himself next to Johnny. He tickled my son until he gave over the Super Mario controller and within minutes, they were doing battle together on the couch against all things Bowser while Elaine was combing my cabinets for ramekins in which to portion and bake the casserole.
“I don’t have ramekins,” I told her. “I promise you I don’t.”
She found that to be a ridiculous notion and kept up her search. I shrugged at Millicent who stared at Elaine’s ass and asked, “What in God’s name do you have to do to stay that thin?”
Elaine answered her earnestly, outlining her impressive exercise regime and diet while spooning my casserole into various and sundry small bowls and generally, taking over my kitchen. I went to check on the turkey and burnt my hand trying to turn the poultry thermometer so I could see it.
“Fuck!” I said.
“Mom!” Jenna screamed. “We have company!”
“Here,” Elaine said, grabbing my arm and pulling me toward the sink. “Put it in cold water, quickly.” She put my hand under the faucet and held my arm so I would stay there. “Stay put,” she commanded. “Let me get things organized here, okay?
I looked over at Millicent who raised her eyebrows, indicating an emotion somewhere between impressed and afraid. “I know,” I mouthed to her. My brother turned around on the couch to see how Elaine was doing. When I saw the way he smiled at her, I knew he would marry her.
“I have read 14 books so far this year,” Jenna told Elaine, one over-achiever to another.
“That is fantastic,” Elaine told Jenna. “Can you read to me what it says in your mom’s cookbook there?”
I heard the garage door open and went to dry my hands to prepare for the wreck that was likely to be my father. “Nope,” Elaine scolded me. “Put your hand back in the water. I promise you, you will thank me later.” And with that, she dried her own hands and went to greet my husband and my father.
“I’m Elaine,” she explained, shaking Jim and Dad’s hands like she was a presidential candidate. My father pointed to the recliner and made a weaving path to it. “Hello, son,” he greeted John. “Hello grandson and granddaughter. Well, hello, Millicent,” he concluded, sounding like the lascivious old drunk that he was.
Jim came in the kitchen and kissed me on the cheek. “Did you burn yourself again?” he asked. “Uh huh,” I said. “She seems okay,” he whispered.
“Bossy,” I whispered back. “Is it warm in here?” I asked. I felt like my head might explode. “I need some air.”
I stepped outside on the porch off the great room into the cold night air. It was a clear, crisp night and the stars were already in evidence. I held a bag of frozen peas against my burnt hand and drank in the frigid air; I tried to sober up to face the motley crew that was my family.
As much as I liked the quiet, I was freezing. I turned to come back in and slipped on a patch of ice and hit the deck hard, flat on my back. I was stunned. I had no idea if I was broken or paralyzed or both. I waited: both for someone to come see how I was doing and to assess the level of my injuries. I finally lifted my head and propped myself up on my elbows. I could see them all: Dad in the recliner, snoring, John and Johnny playing Super Mario Bros, Jenna trying to protect her poster from Millicent’s ashtray and drink, Millicent, rubbing up against my husband like a cat in heat, and Elaine, putting dishes in my dishwasher.
I lay there; cold, burnt, and down for the count on the back porch and not a single one of them noticed a thing, not the fact of my absence or the crashing sound when I fell. I slowly picked myself back up and hobbled in. I took a painkiller, poured another drink and listened to my soon-to-be-sister-in-law tell me how to make the rest of my Thanksgiving dinner while the rest of us disassembled, holiday style.
Friday, May 6, 2011
I should say some days I need a sign.
I really don't want to complain because this year, the year I danced, the year I tried to do a new thing or two (while not panicking about the abyss or loss or the giant unknown future) has been tremendously fascinating. And mostly compliant (i.e. I have not fallen or failed or had my hopes dashed too badly.)
But some days are harder than others. And oddly, those are often the days built around events filled with people. Even in the midst of familiar, loving, kind faces, or maybe especially in the midst of familiar, loving and kind faces, loneliness can still haunt the playground.
Today I found a book on a bench at Iris on Main Street. I bought it because it told me to, this little Octavio Paz book of poems.
It is the sign I needed today and this is the poem I needed today. So I share it with you in case you need a sign too.
At times poetry is the vertigo of bodies and the vertigo of joy and the
vertigo of death;
the walk with eyes closed along the edge of the cliff, and the verbena
in submarine gardens;
the laughter that sets fire to rules and the holy commandments;
the descent of parachuting words onto the sands of the page;
for forty nights and forty days, the night-sorrow sea and the day-
the idolatry of the self and the desecration of the self and the dissipa-
tion of the self;
the beheading of epithets, the burial of mirrors;
the recollection of pronouns freshly cut in the garden of Epicurus, and
the garden of Netzahualcoyotl;
the flute solo on the terrace of memory and the dance of flames in the
cave of thought;
the migrations of millions of verbs, wings and claws, seeds and hands;
the nouns, bony and full of roots, planted on the waves of language;
the love unseen and the love unheard and the love unsaid: the love in
Thursday, May 5, 2011
A few years ago, Nebraska was in the news when several parents abandoned their teen children at hospitals, without reprisal, due to a loophole in a Safe Haven law. The law was intended to allow parents to give unwanted newborns to hospitals as opposed to leaving them in dumpsters and other unsafe place.
I was mesmerized by this notion. What does it take to feel that is your only choice? And how do you march toward that choice? That is how NEBRASKA was born. Told in alternating chapters, it explores one mother's past while she drives with her teen children toward Nebraska.
Here is a chapter for your reading pleasure. Lorabee, the protagonist, is a teen and her father's girlfriend, a woman she adores, is moving out.
You can get the book direct on Kindle (check out the free apps for Mac and phone!).
My dork of a brother dangled a pendulum over his Kreskin ESP game and watched with fierce concentration as it oscillated. He was crouched over the fortune-telling part of the board while straddling the stone wall that ran from our house down along the gravel driveway, the driveway in which Claire’s feeble parents and my suddenly old-looking father were loading her things into the back of a pick up truck. Their Cadillac was parked at the end of the driveway, shining like a grand prize in the hot August sun. We weren’t allowed to put any of Claire’s things in the Cadillac. “No way, young lady. There is cat hair on everything. Goes there,” Claire’s father had scolded, flinging his arthritic hand in the direction of the pick up truck which meant I had traveled an extra 30 steps or so with a heavy load of Claire’s hair products. I dropped the box on the driveway and decided to take it out on John.
“How come he doesn’t have to help?” I yelled to my father. “Huh? How come?”
John held up his arm, the one with the cast on it. “I have a broken arm is why!” he yelled back. My brother had decided that jumping off of the low part of our roof into a puddle would have made a fantastic splash but didn’t count on slipping in the mud. “You’re lucky you only broke your arm, fella,” is what Claire told him, rubbing his head. We had stopped to get ice cream on the way home from the hospital.
“Seriously!” I said, trying to win some of her affection. “You could have been killed.”
“Well that’s a little extreme, Lorabee,” Claire said, gesturing for the waitress to bring us a check. She couldn’t even look at me.
That same night, over fish sticks, my father told us she was moving out. John started crying which made Claire start crying. She stood up, kissed John on the head, said “I’m so sorry,” and left the room. I opened my mouth to say something and my father pointed his finger like he was drawing a gun on me. “Don’t you dare,” he said. “Don’t you dare.” He got up from the table, grabbed his car keys, and left the house. I shrugged my shoulders and picked up a fish stick from Claire’s plate and ate it.
“That’s not yours,” John cried. He was so lame.
“No duh,” I said.
In my driveway, in the 90-degree heat, I picked the box back up and walked toward the pick up truck. It started to slip out of my arms so I worked to get a better grip on it. And as I did, the bottom of the box came open and all of Claire’s beauty products came tumbling out on the driveway.
“Shit!” I said.
“Dad!” John said.
“Jesus Christ,” my dad said.
Claire was on the porch, organizing boxes. She turned around and saw the mess I had made of her fancy Sassoon shampoo and Lipsmackers and Noxzema and everything ever made by the Love’s Baby Soft people.
“Just put it back in the box and leave it,” she said.
“But I broke the Opium,” I told her. My dad had gotten the same perfume for each of us two Christmas’ ago, back when there was still hope in our house. “I’ll go get you mine,” I said. I started to run toward the house. This task, this perfume replacement mission, seemed very important to me. I could help here. This is something I messed up that I could actually fix.
I was on the porch by the time Claire could respond. “I don’t want it,” Claire said. “It actually makes me a little sick, to tell you the truth,” she said. I stopped dead in my tracks.
“But you said you loved it,” I told her, willing her to look up from the box she was writing on, willing her to look at me.
“Well I lied,” she said, replacing the cap on the marker and lifting a box to hand to her father.
“Does anyone want me to predict the future?” John yelled from the driveway.
I slammed the door and went inside the house. I went to my room to wait for someone to come make me return to the job of helping Claire move. No one ever came. By the time I came back downstairs, she was gone.