Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Step !b: Sit with Your Curiosity

I knew C71585 meant that I needed to style my hair and put on a little make-up. The last time I'd had my cosmetics out was when my great-granddaughter was over playing and wanted to decorate me. She carefully applied layer upon layer of powders, blushes, and shadows until finally, when she offered me the mirror, I first asked her, "Do I look beautiful now?" She pressed her lips together solemnly and shook her head no. I looked in the mirror.
Indeed! I did not resemble beautiful. She had streaky sparkling jet black eye shadow striping my face like a zebra hooker. Between the stripes were blotches of slick pink lip gloss and shimmery purple eye liner. I looked like a Zebra floozy who'd been on a weekend binge.

Tonight I applied a little moisturizer, eye shadow and picked a mild blush that wouldn't detract from the popping the Nordstrom clerk promised would occur between my C71585 tank top and gray jacket. I carefully stroked the brush along my cheekbone (or where my cheekbone should be under the dollops of fat that rest upon my cheekbone) and what the fuck? I had dark black war stripes from cheekbone to ear. Obviously I'd not taught my great-granddaughter the art of cleaning one's cosmetic brushes.

After removing the war paint, spraying fluff-magic spray on my hair and getting dressed, I considered the results  with  a skeptical eye. See that little picnic table on my right shoulder? For the gremlins who are going to list my transgressions on the way home.

I even managed to slip out of my uber comfy Birkenstocks and into a pair of inexpensive, reasonably comfy, definitely not pissy-with-attitude, but not dull either flats. So flat I could count rocks through the thin footbed on the way to the car.

You can see my basket of skipping rocks that my son Brady Spicer gave me, and my grandkids Kenny and Mariah refilled with rocks once. I'm almost out of rocks. I need a stone fairy to come and leave me some more round thin rocks for skipping on the lake.

Dinner was great. I had salmon with lime essence jasmine rice and fresh asparagus. Delish!

I won't bore you with the details, but I did my best to listen more attentively and ask questions. I'd give myself a C+ on the listening...I learned something new about each of these friends even though I've known them some years. And I asked each of them a question or two that afforded them time to talk, but I didn't put much effort into follow up questions or even creative questions to start with, so I'd say that was about C-.

I earned an F for interrupting because I interrupted several times (SEVeral times, my gremlin says with the affect of an asshole) and I used the F bomb six or seven times when I was telling a story, which isn't the greatest table talk, but the F bomb was the story--I was recounting one of Cheryl Strayed's stories from Tiny Beautiful Things and in that particular story there is no story without the bomb because the story is WTF, WTF, WTF. So maybe I should have just picked a different dinner time story.

Especially because when I start to tell a story it's way too easy to forget the don't-talk-longer-than-thirty-seconds-at-a-streak rule I adapted from friend Jack's recommendation on making chitchat. So I'd say a D for appropriate conversations (appropriateness of topic, narrative duration, relevance to preceding conversation.) My gremlins really hammered me all the way home for the Fuck issue. But one of the two friends had lost her job, so fuck seems appropriate  even if the tables and candles and servers there weren't accustomed to it in that milieu.                                                                                                               

I came home and had a little throne time to reflect on what I might have done differently. Several things occurred to me:
  1. Don't go. Simple. Easy. Can't fuck it up.
  2. Practice more. Practice with my husband (oh...boy....) Practice with my kids. (Aiyiyi.)
  3. Wear duct tape as an accessory. Or better, in place of lip gloss. Remove with discretion.
  4. Shoot the gremlin on the picnic table. This is not funny because there have been too many shootings lately that hurt people. One today just a few miles from where we ate. Disregard this idea.
  5. Let the gremlin wear duct tape.
  6. Ask Merry & Marcy for feedback; contrast & compare with Gremlin's disgust. Rectify.
That's it for tonight!  Next up, a Celebration of Life coming up on Saturday with lots of family members I hardly ever see and people I won't know. This will be a four-hour chitchat session. I'll be exhausted. With a three hour drive home afterward my Gremlin with have a field day, don't you think?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Step 1a: Admitted I Was a Fat Slouch

Tonight I went to Nordstrom’s as my Facebook friend Jack suggested. Jack is a friend I met online thirty-five years after we attended the same high school. Back in the day, I thought he was a renegade; now I think he’s a cultured dude with great taste in furniture and food.

He suggested I go to Nordstrom’s because of this post on my Facebook page: I want to learn to mill about, look cute, and make delightful social chat. Who’s game to teach me?

Jack said to ask the clerk for help picking something out to wear out for social events, so today I geared up by getting out of my slouchy Forks hooded sweatshirt and too-small jeans, and into a pair of white capris and a white hoody.

I didn’t want to ask the store clerk for help, but she approached me. When she asked if I needed help, I said no. That’s because the big-butt department is small and I knew it would only take a few minutes for me to peruse every rack, especially because some things don’t even make it to the Consider pile in my mind.

Who designs all the wild, big pattern prints that makes big women look enormous? I didn’t try on any of that. I picked two lightweight jackets that would work for casual wear and a black Courtenay-would-be-proud skirt for sassy evening wear.

The purple jacket was nice but it was $148 and I wasn’t ready to commit to purple for that price. Besides, I was worried purple made me look like an eggplant. (I don’t wear bright red or orange for similar fruit-related reasons.)

The light gray jacket, made of silky cotton, felt like a lightweight hoody without a zipper or hood. It was on sale for under $50 and it looked alright, so I kept that. The Courtenay-hoo-haw skirt fit great, and it had an exciting flounce when I walked—but I couldn’t figure out what kind of top I'd wear with it. I decided I looked like a fat frump trying to look good, which made me feel bad, so I skipped the skirt.

The gray jacket seemed a little drab, but the clerk recommended a tank top in bright purplish red. I told her it was brighter than I usually wear and she said, “Bright colors pop out against dark ones. That’s what you want.” When I got home I looked it up on the color spectrum chart. It's really close to color number c71585 ~ I hope it’s not too crazy bright. (Can I still wear one of my favorite pair of thrashed Birkenstocks or do I need to actually coordinate footwear like a fashion commando? I should ask Jack.)

Earlier today, I had coffee with my friend Maria, a new social work graduate, who is sexy and funny and cute and sociable in all the ways I’m not, and I told her about my Facebook post. (It’s not bad enough my friends endure reading them; later, I talk about them.)

I was explaining (as if she didn’t already know) how awkward I am at social chitchat and how I don’t take turns; once I start talking I just blather on and on and onandonandon until people hold their breath and pass out so they don’t have to listen any more. Worse yet are the drives home by myself in which I rehash every social blunder and faux pas that occurred until I wish I had never gone.

Maria smiled at me—she has an amazing smile—and said, “It’s true you like to talk…but you're also curious. So when you're with people in a social situation, try to be present with your curiosity.”

I’m not sure that’s exactly what she said even though I put quotation marks. When I learn to listen more intently without my brain racing forward and sideways at the same time, I will actually be able to quote people.

Tomorrow, I have a dinner date with two friends I don’t often see. I'm going to wear my new c71585 shirt and gray jacket. I might be totally mismatched on the bottom with skanky old jeans and Birkenstocks, but that will be under the table, so if I get there early to be seated before they arrive, they won’t know. Decorating the top half might not be enough, but I have to start somewhere.

I'm going to try to ignore that c71585 is too bright. I'm going to order something that doesn't contribute to my eggplant, tomato, pumpkin worries. And I am going to be present with my curiosity to see if my internal critic has less to say on the way home.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Mother's Last Dance

for Del

You make it easy to suffer the loss
of importance in the world
show films of our true selves
as you dangle just out of reach.

When others come running, touched
faces disconsolate, the ice burst
settled in your skin,
I become the burnished sun
you rest against. Their breath

writes slow notes
in your periphery. They stand
bedside, hoping
to apprehend the music you are
dreaming; they cannot stand
you living in previous time.

You remain in the now
this very moment, close
to death: Its softness.
Its gentle kiss good night.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Who Lights the Green of Spring?

Who warms the score of spring, so does entice
the daffodils to variegated light?
Who presses emerald quarter notes to slice
the winter earth as proof in her own right-
no voice may soil the land, no deed so dark
she cannot free the essence to transform
cruel acts to her melodic beauty mark:
crocus mastered in sonata form.
Her tulips burst to song from dust and rot
with roots entangled deep beneath the scene,
and petals bloom as hope's forget-me-not.
Her forte is to flourish in between
the intervals of metered choice and chance
to measure every season's happenstance.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


I believed you could pull silver from the sky. I believed words mean. I understood eyes.

Now, my arm wags off my shoulder thinking I know the answer. Teacher never chooses me. I wait at the window for mommy to return. She never arrives.

My soul stirs to yours. Mind anticipates voice. When I wake with my body curled around possible-yous, morning’s thought is your face. Your hands haunt me.

I carry the stillborn moon. Its unremitting orbit. Its relentless dark side. I mourn the birth that never comes. The nestling of bodies I yearn to know. I bend double under the weight of our debris.

I carry you way past term.

Monday, February 6, 2012

She Wasn't One to Give Up

The multi-grain bun halved, then filled
with ground round, crumbled
blue cheese,tangy
red tomato, oozing
barbecue sauce and hot mustard
appealed to him. She


upon the small wood table
where they sat
with the newness of coming
to know one another. He halved
the table, just as her arm
trailed through the drops,
giddy laughter spilling
from her lips, honey
eyes vaulting the table.

She loved, she said, a man
who knew how to touch.
He planned, he said, to give up
meat for Lent. Not her.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Backyard Bundt Cake

Find a good tree with a bald patch
at the base of the trunk. It is perfect
if erosion has worn away a bit of root
to form a puddle from yesterday’s rain.
Find an old Folgers can (rusty will do)
and a thick stick to stir the goo
you will make from two handfuls of dirt,
a bunch of dry leaves crackled into bits,
and (don’t balk now) a bit of dog doo
from over by the back fence. If the tree
is cedar, gather a handful of tiny cones,
stir them in whole. If it’s fir,
you only need one. Crush it
underfoot so the scales slide free.
Mix them in your muck with a little green
grass and dandelion wishes. Stir
vigorously. Your arm won’t get so tired
if you sing, “Delta Dawn, what’s that flower
you have on? Could it be a faded rose
from days gone by?” Make a circle
of small pebbles on a hot sidewalk.
Spread the batter inside the round rocks.
Bake till crusty brown.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Questions for Carol

We make no reason fit
the means or mode or minute
that eased the load of soul
from here to there. “Senseless...”
we say, afraid our own death
lurks alongside. Afraid
we lack courage to face such choice
alone. Did you find the welcoming
you lacked in life? Did everyone
seem happy to see you, despite
your selfish act? Is your life better
now that your dead?
Here, even those who do
not miss you, per se,
notice you are gone.