Mar 31 2009

Despite best intentions, it totally bit.

Before I begin this post, there is a housekeeping matter I would like to address. I am going back to calling my youngest girl Devil Baby. Angel Baby is just too saccharine for this blog and this kid. Devil Baby suits her better, even though everything I said here still holds true. For the most part. 

I am also going to go on record as the only person in the history of the world to say something negative about the Wild Rumpus. I’ll probably be tarred and feathered by all those fresh faced mommies I saw there yesterday, but so be it. The Wild Rumpus is a really cute bookstore tucked away in a really cute Minneapolis neighborhood, with a child-size purple door and a coterie of animals, most of which are allowed to wander around freely, all of which are allowed to spread their dander and feathers and other animal debris and respiratory pollutants throughout. Chickens strut around the store, in and out of people’s legs, taking refuge behind the front desk if a kid gets too gropey. Cats lounge on ratty armchairs and in the windowsills, generally ignoring the chubby hands that pet and poke them. There are salamanders, tarantulas, ferrets, chinchillas, rats, frogs, a bunch of different cooing birds.

Normally, I love the place. It’s magical – a lovely treasure trove of children’s books, a pantheon of book-love, blah blah blah, but yesterday – yesterday everything about the Wild Rumpus just SUCKED. It was the Wild Suckus. I had decided to take Devil Baby there for “Tale Time” – get it? She’s on spring break this week, so I thought I’d start us off with a nice activity after we dropped Supergirl and Saint James off at school. The place was packed – quite literally a zoo – so after Devil Baby harassed a chicken with deformed feet (pigeon toes?), we found a spot on the crowded rug. I looked around. I could have been on Jupiter for all the connection I felt with these well scrubbed women and their pallid children.

Story time began and Devil Baby was having none of it. She was squirming and trying to lie down on the floor – she insisted on closing her eyes and pretending to snore. She kept asking for fruit snacks, gum, chapstick, hand cream. Listen to the lady, Devil Baby, I would whisper, trying to keep my growing irritation at bay. Then came the song time and – slap in the face – the child who sings constantly refused to sing, refused to do the little hand motions. Jesus! Why did I even care? But I did care. A lot. I didn’t drag myself to this hot, stinky bookstore and squish myself onto a ratty old rug, shoulder to shoulder with Minneapolis’ most earnest and loving nannies, young mommies and grandmas for nothing. Sing child! For the love of God – it’s the freaking itsy bitsy spider, child, your favorite – SING!!! But instead she flopped back for some more snoring action. I watched all the other caretakers sway and sing their hearts out, smug, blissful looks plastered on their pasty faces, and I began to feel the sticky fingers of disgust closing around my throat. Are you actually enjoying this? Like, for yourselves?

The banality of it all started to drive me crazy and to more than a few uncharitable, borderline evil thoughts. For which God promptly repaid me with an allergic puffy eye.

Despite my maniacal obsession with keeping my hands away from my face, I must have slipped and it felt like one of the cats had climbed up under my eyelid to work out a hairball. I was dying, but I couldn’t rub it or I would make it worse, turning a wretched itchy eye into a swollen monstrosity. This much, at least, I have learned in my life. In desperation I rubbed my eye on Devil Baby’s shirt. Oh shit, she’s been dragging herself all over this Godforsaken temple of dander. Goddamn it itches! Aah. Fuck me. But fuck me more if I’m going to leave before this goddam story time is over, you stupid bitches! Aaaahhhh. The agony. Itches. Itches. Shit, it itches! More fake snoring from Devil Baby. That does is. Fuck it. We are so out of here.

So I retreated as gracefully as I could with my eye in screaming red hot spasms, trying not to step on any little fingers with my size 10 knee-high Wellington boots. What a bust. What a total bust. I drove us home, horribly depressed because I am not deluded enough to think I was even vaguely in the right for having been so deeply disgusted by the whole scenario. Obviously, if it’s me versus thirty-some women and their offspring, I’m the one with the problem. I may have anger issues, but I have not lost my grip on reality.

It’s me. Devil Baby has no attention span for storytime because, um, I haven’t taken her very many times. At least not when you compare to Saint James and Supergirl. When I offer to read Devil Baby a book she runs away screaming because she thinks I’m going to try to put her to bed. My child – my child – my poor, pathetic, third born, daughter-of-a-spent-husk-of-a-mother child, is a philistine at the tender age of two. I have let her watch too much TV. She knows the words to commercials for acne creams but can’t sit still in a room full of kids to watch a very animated young woman read books. She can take pictures of herself with the Mac, but she doesn’t know that it’s ok, actually encouraged, to read books during the day time. Her favorite song is Rihanna’s Disturbia, but she won’t row row row her boat with the rest of the kids. I feel like a failure when it comes to Devil Baby. I feel like I got all used up with the first two.

Have all my songs been sung? At least those not involving thumpin’ base lines, catchy hooks, screaming guitars or trippy synth?

After the Wild Suckus debacle, I loomed around in a state of melancholy, the weight of my inadequacies crushing my chest. My head felt like a waterballoon, stretched precariously thin, ready to pop and gush forth tears of guilt and self-pity at the slightest provocation. The weather sucks, there is no easy out like going to the park where fresh air and the smell of green can act as its own balm on our ragged psyches. I just needed the day to be over.

And that’s the beauty of days. They end. And start again. Today the weather still sucks, but I decided I would take Devil Baby to Club Kid so I could go to yoga. Club Kid is a pay by the hour child care alternative which I only use in a pinch, mostly because it smells like a daycare which sends me Proustian synapsing back to my working days and because the hourly pay thing feels like the kiddie equivalent of a hooker motel. Today, however, qualified as a pinch. For everyone’s sake, I needed to fix my head and my heart and there is no better way known to me than a good sweaty yoga class. And it worked. What’s more, I ran into my betties and was able to vent, just a bit, just enough, bless their hearts. Thank you Nanook and JJ. I feel better. 

And right now I’m home with Devil Baby. She’s watching TV while I type, but we’re under the same blanket. She keeps pressing her little feet into the side of my leg. And this, I think . . . I hope, is good enough for today.

Mar 29 2009

Dream big.



This morning when I opened the laptop, last night’s final search popped up: penguin trainer jobs. Good God, I hope Doctor Dash isn’t looking for a new line of work.

Mar 25 2009

Mental Health Day

urban-artThis morning Supergirl awoke glassy-eyed, groggy, and harboring a hacking cough. I could tell the cloud would lift and she would be fine if I sent her to school, but I thought I’d give the kid a break. Everyone deserves a mental health day from time to time and plus, if she stayed home, we’d have a little time to ourselves while Angel Baby was at pre-school. I stood over her at breakfast and decided to feel her out. Do you think you need to stay home from school today? Do you feel that sick? She nodded as she arranged her features into her best impersonation of a baleful street urchin and coughed feebly but incessantly into the crook of her elbow. Oh she’s good. Not over played. Nothing cartoonish about her portrayal of a sick girl. Workin’ those enormous eyes. Yep, she nailed it.

I felt her forehead for show, as I already had a plan for her little day of rest. If Supergirl stayed home, we could go to Galoony’s for steak and cheese subs before picking up Angel Baby from school. Hurrah for me – I love a partner in crime. My only stipulation was no TV for her – no computer for me. She nodded solemnly.

img_0158adjLunch – what can I say about lunch? It was the best. I can’t remember the last time Supergirl and I had a meal by ourselves. Sitting in a two person booth enjoying our sodas, our conversation meandered in unexpected fits and starts – like a kid dizzy after spinning around in circles. Galoony’s has huge grafitti-inspired wall murals and that got us talking about grafitti. Why it can be bad, why it can be beautiful.


We talked about grafitti artists having to work in the dark, on the fly, with eyes in the back of their heads, always on the look out for the cops. So if it turns out really pretty, it’s worth it, she said. Not a girl who needs to be fed lines in black and white, I stepped into the gray with her. Absolutely. I happen to think so, anyway.

Then we played a couple rounds of build-a-man (incidentally, they no longer call it hang-man. Also banished from the playground of political correctness are sitting Indian-style and giving Chinese-cuts).

Our subs came and we talked about our mutual love of meat sandwiches. There is totally no way you are happier eating this sandwich than me, she murmured. I will remind her of this meal when she goes through her vegetarian phase someday, God forbid.

And then, because Supergirl is obsessed with albinos we talked about albinism – which led to a creaky discussion of genetics as I stumbled around the dusty boxes of my mind trying to remember and explain how dominant and recessive genes work. There is a small colony of albino squirrels on our side of the creek and when we saw that one had been hit by a car last summer, our family let out a collective moan as we drove by the small white splotch on side of the road. She wanted to hear all about the albino boy I saw in Florida when I was a young girl. How his skin was as pale as paper. How he only came out at sunset and waded into the ocean, bending his lanky frame into a question mark to dip the tips of the his fingers into the water. How he wore sunglasses even at sunset because his eyes were so fragile, so susceptible to the light we take for granted. She wanted to know if he was scary. She wanted to know if he was friendly.

I don’t know, I said. He was older than me. I didn’t try to be his friend. 

Maybe you should have.

Maybe I should have.

Here’s a well kept secret. There is no better lunch partner than a kindergartner. They are as pure hearted, honorable, and wise as they will ever be – the kind of wisdom that comes from having no pre-conceived notions, no biases – only the ability to question, to reason, to see that next step in a logical sequence and jump to it with enviable agility. They are aware of gender differences, but as of yet completely unaffected and they inhabit their bodies with absolute joy and freedom. They are curious and unjaded. They are learning to read – to decode the ultimate mystery – the key to everything. They see beauty and humor in places we don’t even bother to look anymore. Kindergartners are magic. Pure magic.

I am so sad this year is almost over. I am so glad I let her stay home today.

Mar 24 2009


yellwrbI don’t know what squeezes my heart more. To realize one of my children sings in perfect pitch or to realize one of my children is tone deaf. I’ve got one of each. I’m not saying which is which, because everyone has got to sing.

Mar 23 2009

In the dog house.

I’m in the dog house for having stayed out too late last night celebrating Nanook of the North’s birthday. It was supposed to be a delicious celebratory feast at 112 Eatery with a dozen and change of her BFFs – a lovely evening dinner strategically timed for all of us to miss having to put our respective offspring to bed, but not meant to extend beyond what would otherwise be considered prudent or proper for a Sunday night.

If intention counts for anything, and I would argue that it should, it was not my intent when I got picked up at 5:30 in my new spring coat, to come rolling in the door at two thirty in the morning. Not at all. If it had been, I wouldn’t have taken my gigantic purse and no lipstick. And no cell phone.

Our dinner was delicious and loud and funny and when it was time to go, Nanook, Crackerjack, Pretty Young Thing and I looked at our watches and made a snip snap decision to stay downtown. It was only eight thirty, after all, the night but a fresh faced choir boy. Some of the other ladies were tempted, but begged off in an enviable display of good judgment. We four miscreants finished our drinks and traipsed to the elevator where Crackerjack did a standing splits for whatever reason sending us into peals of laughter and a trip to nowhere. When the doors opened we spilled out onto the same floor, giggling and completely befuddled by how our waiter had managed to beat us downstairs, that sneaky fleet-footed bastard. And so it began.

Downtown is pretty dead on a Sunday night, but it turns out there is plenty of mischief to be gotten into when all you need to be completely entertained is some drinks, some tunes, and some really funny lady friends. At about eleven I called Doctor Dash to let him know I would be staying out after dinner for a few drinks. I patted myself on the back. Responsible. Considerate. Later that phone message came back to haunt me.

But I called you – I left a message, she said.

You sounded like you were only going to stay out a little longer, he said.  

And you believed me? she did not say.

Here’s the thing. Asking me to peel myself away from the forcefield of hilarity that we manage to conjure up any time we go out is like asking Pepe Le Pew to keep his stinky paws off the cute petite fille skunk. I simply cannot tear myself away because there has not been nearly enough crazy laughing and unfettered shenanigans in my life since college. And I miss it terribly. Back then my college girlfriends set the baseline for female friendship and good times – there was no recapturing that once we scattered around the country after graduation. Then came many years of babies and young children and the attendant exhaustion and general inability to take on anything else. But now I’ve made some new girlfriends and we’re all coming out of that bleary-eyed time, trying to figure out who we are again, what we’re going to do with our lives. In many ways, it feels like we are revisiting those uncertain times of our youth. There’s a lot to talk about and break down, there’s a lot laugh about and now, more than ever, we need to laugh. Age-appropriateness, situation-appropriateness be damned. What kind of a person can tap her watch and say, ok, that’s enough fun for me. I am powerless. Utterly powerless to walk away from a good time. And these girls are nothing, if not a good time.

Doctor Dash totally knows this about me. He knows I can’t say when. He knows I always want just a few more minutes, one more song, one more drink, one more laugh, one more long goodbye.

But just because he knows he married a party barnacle, it fails to mitigate how annoying it must be for him to be woken up as I try to eat girl scout cookies and balance a flashlight in bed so I can read myself to sleep at three o’clock in the morning. Crinkle crinkle. Or having to get up to let me in because I forgot my key. Or being blanketed by a vague sense of worry until he hears me clunking around the kitchen scavenging for food. He can go through all the motions of going to sleep, but poor Doctor Dash can’t really sleep until I’m back home safe. When I was sixteen I wouldn’t have understood. Now I understand. And I am deeply thankful that I happen to matter this much to someone. 

Chastened and hungover, so much of this little scenario sent me shooting right back to my youth – I stayed out too late, I was unreachable by phone, I screwed up, my dad er husband was mad because he couldn’t go to sleep and he had a tough day at work ahead of him. When you’re young and you mess up, you skulk around trying to avoid your parents. You suffer the consequences. Maybe there’s a shouting match. But in the end, what can you do? When you screw up at this age, you fix it. There is no other choice. And the beauty of it is, you have the wisdom to acknowledge when you need to apologize, when you need to own up. And now, unlike then, you’ve got a few tricks up your sleeve.

So what did I do? I started cooking like a motherfucker. I decided I’d do an asian-style pulled pork and with coffee and Advil in one hand and ginger, soy, fish sauce, onion, garlic, and thai chilis in the other, I concocted a beautiful bath for a succulent pork shoulder to spend the day slow cooking. The smell that filled the house by ten a.m. was amazing, and if that didn’t say I’m sorry – then at least my text message would. Actually, I get a bit of the clam hands when I try to text and after the third try, the best I could do was spqqxy. I pressed send, hoping Dash would know what I meant.

I am really really spqqxy.

Mar 21 2009

Clam hands.

I’m not quite sure what happens to Doctor Dash when he’s faced with an unopened box of cereal or crackers, but whatever it is – it never ends well. Today I went to pour some fruit loops for Angel Baby and when I tipped the box over the bowl, they went flying everywhere in an avalanche of artificial fruit flavors. It was as if Toucan Sam had vomited all over my dining room table and what’s worse? When I untipped the box, half of its contents ended up trapped outside of the bag. The food stuck between the bag and the box? Like nails on a chalk board for me. Intolerable.

The box had been opened by Doctor Dash and was shredded beyond recognition, a huge gash traveling down the side of the cellophane. It’s as if unopened dry goods send him into an uncontrollable Lou Ferrigno moment and after a bout of painful temple rubbing and teeth gnashing, he ends up with superhuman strength and clams as hands. It drives me bananas. Especially when he mangles resealable bags. Faced with a zip lock, he will rip open the bottom. I just don’t get it. Normally, I’d say he has above average manual dexterity. He does these cool little pen and ink drawings from time to time. And he even performs actual medical procedures on real live human beings. 

What gives, man?


Mar 17 2009

Random things I am loving.

Old men with metal detectors.

Googly eyes. They instantly take any art project right over the top.dsc_0277

Spinach – raw, cooked, wilted, creamed – any way you got it, that’s the way I like it.

This video. I think it’s hilarious and just a tiny bit creepy. If I were a female chanteuse, this would totally be my video, only I would add a few wipe-outs.

The birthday card Supergirl made for her friend, Ethan. This is the back, the part that usually says Hallmark $1.99. For those of you not fluent in kinder-speak, I’ll translate: Cool, Awesome, Wicked, Sweet. Supergirl’s motivating force is coolness. I so get that.dsc_0244






The fact that in this city at this time a teenage lesbian couple feels comfortable enough to walk around the lake hand in hand – just like any other high schoolers in like/love. (Seriously, is it me? Is it spring? Because the last three times I’ve been around the lake, I have seen cutie pie lesbian handholders). Now if only it could be that easy for the boys. Someday.

Spring, baby!dsc_0268My Irish friends – whether you be all or just a wee bit – Happy St. Patty’s Day – I sure do wish I could crack a beer with you, you fun bunch of fuckers!

Mar 16 2009

Circus Juventas

Supergirl has been begging, begging, to go to Circus Camp for two years. When she was four, I told her she was too young. When she was five, I told her she was too young. Now she’s six and she can go. Good Lord. Flying trapeze, balancing balls, bungee trapeze, high wire, clowning, German wheel – what the hell is a German wheel? I don’t like the sound of that – sounds sinister. As I read through the website, I feel a lump in my throat. It all sounds so . . . dangerous. It all sounds so . . . perfect for Supergirl. Sigh. What else can we do but try to follow our children’s bliss? So I’m signing her up and she’s jumping out of her skin. Her response when I told her? “Aw, sweetness!” uttered with the face and voice of a six year old girl, but the ‘tude of a fifteen year old skateboard rat.

Circus Juventas, a performing arts circus school for youth, is dedicated to inspiring artistry and self-confidence through a multi-cultural circus arts experience.” We are lucky enough to have this place just over the river in St. Paul and on Saturday we went to their big open house celebration. I was curious and I figured, what the hell, let’s give Supergirl a little teaser of what’s to come this summer.

I can honestly say that there is nothing I did not love about it. They had all their equipment set up in the Big Top and after collecting a waiver, the kids were allowed to try their hand at the trapeze, the swinging rope, the trampoline, the high wire and all sorts of other cool things. We caught two performances while we were there and there was a moment when, I swear to God, I got choked up watching this beautiful girl soar through the air on a trapeze. We were practically underneath her and I could see every one her muscles working and straining to gain momentum before she draped herself into poses of breathtaking precariousness. It was poetry to watch a body performing so fluently and so beautifully. Later some contortionists crawled out in freaky green leotards, looking like really buff amphibians. These three girls were healthy, which is to say that they were by no means skinny, which is to say that they had big glutes and breasts and were a joy to watch as they bent their spines into almost unimaginable positions. I do yoga, I do back bends. Holy shit, these girls made my back bends look like paltry hillocks to their acute Mt. Kilmangaros. They were fantastic.

And as we clapped and watched with mouths agape, I was able to crack open why I was digging it so much. This was all about bodies – beautiful fantastic strong and limber bodies – but it was about what these bodies can do, not about how these bodies look. It was a celebration of physical prowess and artistry and it was gorgeous to watch. It was a really inspiring bookend of sorts to my recent, admittedly dour, body ruminations

There was also a real joyful looseness to the place in terms of what has become the overbearing strong arm of “safety”. Maybe because they are circus-types and there is a certain degree of physical peril implicit in the whole endeavor, but it was clear their focus was on set up and rigging and no one seemed to get that bent out of shape about all the kids climbing around like monkeys and perched on ladders and scaffolding watching the shows. Most of the kids were Circus Juventas kids, but of course, Supergirl shimmied her way up on to a platform for a better view and they let her be. I watched people who work there see her, expecting them to tell her to get down and they didn’t. I tell you, it warmed my cockles to see that kind of freedom and faith. Faith that a kid can manage not to kill themselves ten feet off the ground.

So Supergirl is all signed up and ready to go. She’ll go for a week this summer from nine in the morning to four in the afternoon and there will be a performance on Friday. I know she’s in it for the swinging, the speed, the height, the adrenaline. I’m just hoping this is one more way for her to realize just how much power and grace she carries in her little frame. I hope she has a blast.

Of course I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that this all doesn’t backfire on me. That ten years from now doesn’t find me clutching a tattered, tearstained goodbye note to my chest, weeping unconsolably as I blindly urge my minivan down a long dusty dirt road in hot pursuit of the circus train choo choo chooing into the dusk.

Mar 13 2009

Extreme Makeover for Peevish Mama

139olive-oyl-popeye-posters1jessica_rabbitSo as you can see, peevish mama got a bit of a makeover. Doesn’t she look pretty? Or maybe this is your first visit, in which case welcome!

I started this blog almost a year ago and for a long time, I only told a couple people about it. Blogging felt incredibly self indulgent and moreover, I was afraid I would simply suck at it. Slowly I grew comfortable with a little self-indulgence and a little sucking and I told a few more people. Still, I felt like I needed to keep this baby under wraps because if it wasn’t going to be a safe place to spew and vent and curse and complain and bitch and gush and pant and brag and shiver and cry and wonder and love and question, then there was simply no point in it for me. Also, I wasn’t sure I would continue because, really, how long can you keep writing about nothing? Many months, apparently, and here at peevish mama, I will continue to test that hypothesis. 

So this whole letting the cat out of the bag thing feels precarious and maybe even stupid, but I take some comfort in the fact that I’m being precarious and stupid with so many other people it’s not even funny. Every other fucker and his brother has a blog, so really, what’s the big deal? It’s not a big deal.

If I have told you about this blog, it means I am comfortable swearing in front of you or at you. It means I think you won’t judge me, and if you do, I’m ok with that. It doesn’t mean I expect you to read, it doesn’t mean I expect you to talk about it with me. I’m just letting the cat out of the bag – what you and the cat choose to do is entirely between the two of you. Having said that, if you do happen to read, I care what you think, so comment away – I love getting comments. It’s like finding surprise candy in my pockets! Should I ever happen to find a turd in my pocket, I’m turning off the comments button right way because I have a very thin skin. This is superficial entertainment only – I don’t want any shit. 

I need to take a moment to thank the man who made this extreme makeover possible – the guy who is hosting this blog and fielding my inane questions with the patience of a smiling Buddha – the irrepressible, irreplaceable Rip Van Techno. img_0017 My old blog was so low-tech I couldn’t lump my writing into categories – it was just one long chronological archive of my fiendish musings. Now my fiendish musings are roughly organized into the categories you see at the right and I feel oh so much better! So thanks Rip. You da man.

Mar 12 2009

Suspended calamity.

You know when you do something and think something’s going to happen and then it happens? Like when you put a glass of milk too close to the edge of the table and you know it’s going to fall, but you blow off your signal and then two seconds later it gets knocked over? Right now I’m in a suspended state of those two seconds because soon, very soon, I will open the cabinet and a wooden box of tea will fall off of its wobbly and precarious perch, and it will hit me in the nose.

What do I do?

Mar 7 2009

Pretty. Pretty Ugly.


0470_desert_botanical_garden_trSomeone once said that a good title will get you half way there. Actually, I just made that up. But it’s true, I think. Which is why I would have picked up Another Bullshit Night in Suck City if I had seen it in a bookstore, even without the recommendation of our good friend, Flan. To tell the truth, Flan could recommend a book called Beige Slacks and I’d probably still give it a try. I love this title and I love this book. A memoir by Nick Flynn, it’s raw and beautifully written, pain and humor, grit, blood and spittle spun into something fragile, translucent, vivid and incredibly complex and textured. I can’t help but think of Chihuly’s work. Flynn uses such a light hand and strings each chapter together with the most tenuous of invisible strings – the whole book feels a mere gust away from crashing to the ground in a pile of tragic shards. Instead it soars. One example of countless:

“When my grandmother comes to dinner at our house she always carries her own jar of Turner’s Special Blend. She knows how much she needs and doesn’t want to be caught short. My brother remembers her at Christmas one year, an especially weepy time for her, when she put her hands around his neck and murmured, My little angel, you wouldn’t be so hard to kill. And though he knew it was only the whiskey talking, he also knew that the whiskey talked daily.”

I can’t get that image out of my head. Her wrinkled hand against the smooth pale skin of the boy’s neck. At a certain point, what really separates a caress from an atrocity? Just a bit of pressure for a few minutes. Man.

Another title I love is from Atmosphere’s last album: If Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold. Genius. And they back it up – it’s a great album.  These boys have a knack though, because in 2002 they released an album called God Loves Ugly, which are my sentiments exactly.  Offensively stinky cheeses, drinks so strong they make you grimace, books that make you cry, music laced in rage or grief, meat – what can be sadder than eating meat? That’s the good stuff.

That murky water hole where pretty and ugly swirl together? That’s where I want to wallow.

* Saffron Tower, by Dale Chihuly on exhibition at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, AZ until May 31, 2009. Wish I could go.

Mar 4 2009

Bodies in Motion.


shapeimage_2-4Minnesota winters are nothing if not body-annihilating. Who remembers that all those parts below the neck even exist after months upon months of bitter cold? These days my body is just something I skitter around in, crouched against the slashing wind, turned in on myself like a fetus. I am as modest as a nun, cloaked in wool, denim and goose down, murmuring whispered prayers for summer, for warmth. Only yoga and sex remind me that hey, the body – it’s not nothing

So a trip to Florida at the apex of this cruelest of winters is a bit jarring to someone of my delicate sensibilities to say the least.  Suddenly, there I am in a bathing suit again, my long forgotten toes pale, squinting and disoriented from the shock of being freed from their SmartWool sock prison. I settle into a lounge chair and stare down my femurs. Hello legs. Long time no see. Mmmm. Sun on skin. No words.

Sunny Florida. But where there is sun, there are old people. Old people in bathing suits.  And in my state of mild body shock, I stare in horror from behind my sunglasses at the parade of fleshly decay and decomposition shuffling around in front of me. All manner of withering appendages and muscular atrophy, spinal curvature and bowleggedness, skin taught and shiny over healed incisions, varicosities branching over the backs of legs like ant trails, skin mottled with liver spots, sun spots, age spots, and flesh – dry and sagging or plump and cellulitic – like topographical maps of difficult and foreboding terrain.  Knuckles and ankles swell, nails thicken and yellow, shoulders yearn to touch each other. The ravages of time. 

It is no small mercy that, for the most part, we do not see ourselves as we walk through this world. 

We are not our bodies. We feel like teenagers and yet the mirror tells us otherwise. But watching all these dear old people floating on noodles and moving their legs in the water, creakily bending over to remove white tennis shoes after walks on the beach, leaning on shopping carts picking precious few items off the shelves, sleeping in the sun with hats or yellowed paperbacks over their faces, I can’t help but think: we are not our bodies – but what are we if NOT our bodies? 

Until such time as I evolve way past where I am right now spiritually, I am struck to the core by how very tethered we are to our bodies. It feels painful and unfair. This is what we’ve got. When this is gone, so will we be. What choice do we have then, but to be kind to our bodies, enjoy them, and hope that they won’t betray us too soon?

When I’m old I will read books constantly. Sometimes I will reread books from my teens, my twenties, my thirties. Suspended in story, wrapped in words, I will find escape from my old age. I will walk and swim as much as possible – hopefully do some yoga. I will talk to anyone who will talk to me. Maybe I’ll get a little dog. I will eat olives and ice cream and ridiculously marbled steaks and fries dipped in mayonnaise and watermelon. I will drink loads of white wine – sometimes gin and tonics if I’m in the mood for a good laugh or a good cry.  

But mostly, I will lounge in the sun. Sun on skin. Warm bones. I will bake my old body in the sun because I won’t care about wrinkles anymore.

And my skin will get as brown as bark.

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