Surly Girlie

Writing to figure things out and just because she likes it

lesson #3: say yes to faux fur!

 

My sleeping bag was hot pink, but you get the idea. It's amazing!

Is there anything less natural than pink and purple fur? Indeed, is there anything that says “slumber party princess” more than pink and purple FUR? I guess my point here is that it’s okay to be a little over-the-top. If your gut tells you it’s a good thing, your gut is probably right. Many of my fashion decisions were gut decisions, and I must admit, sometimes I probably crossed some line, but there truly are NO fashion police and I was never in a Glamour “don’t” photo, so all is well.

In the second grade or thereabouts, I wore a purple fur winter coat. It had white trim down the front and around the hood and toggle buttons. No one I knew had anything like it and I loved that about the coat. I have no memory of buying the coat, but my Grammy keeps popping in my head as I recall it, so perhaps she took me shopping for it and then we both had to con my grandpa into buying it for “us.”

 

Grampy never said no—at least not to Grammy!

My other grandmother, Ruth, bought a hot pink fur sleeping bag with yellow lining for me and, again, no one I knew had anything like that either! Lucky me. I was destined to be an original.

Sure there were times when it would have been easier to blend in, to have the icon-du-jour sleeping bag, lunch box, winter coat, but looking back on it, I genuinely loved those ostentatious pieces and also genuinely love that my grandmothers on both sides were totally pleased to share said fashion audacity with me.

 

Come to think of it, they both were quite the style mavens. Grammy had a closet full of shoes, high heeled only. She wore girdles (the old fashioned version of Spanx), panty hose, blouses made from shiny material, the whole works. For awhile she even had one of those hairdos that was an updo and had to be professionally done.

Grandma Ruth had a totally different style, but high heels were a part of her fashion repertoire as well. I recall one hiking trip (ugh, I hated those) where she hiked a trail at Turkey Run State Park  in wedgy corkie sandals. So, if you find yourself in such situations, you come by it naturally. I have been known to sport some interesting nature gear myself. I once hiked up a ski slop in Vermont with full make-up and hair, and probably some sort of ridiculous accessories. It was hell, but I still tell people that I did it.

Would you go hiking in these?

 

 

 

lesson #23: the gingham sundress

…From my fashion- meets-wisdom letter/novella to my nieces

lesson #23: gingham sundress

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago,  there was a gingham sundress that took me through my bohemian phase. I purchased it at a store called Cactus Flower on Kirkwood Avenue in Bloomington.

I was probably twenty-one or two, living with my first serious boyfriend, in a house I loved but that was really the narrow back-end of a professor’s home,  working at restaurant called The Porticos, and trying desperately to hold on to the freedom of being young and untethered.  This was a time o’ poetry (yes, written by me, very badly, if I do say so myself, and by my then-boyfriend who was rather swoony and handsome), of Van Morrison’s “Moon Dance”, and chocolate mousse eaten with stolen bottles of Louis Jadot Pouilly-Fuisse. This was a time of  falling in love with aforementioned boy and with a part of myself that I had never met before: the free-er me.

The freer-me didn’t care if she exercised or got good grades or went to church or any of the stuff that I truly thought would make me happy and virtuous. This dress began a phase that I guess you could say has never ended, because it is THAT part of me that is me at my most content. Truthfully, for some reason, the dress also reminded me of my Granny Finke who used to wear handmade sun frocks, and in my mind, the black-and- white checked fabric took me back to black and white photographs of the leaning barn in her backyard and the way the sun would streak in through her kitchen window, the peace of her summer kitchen from which I still have a table.

I could try to struggle for some poignant connection between the two: the bohemian and the memory of Granny—but there is none. The truth is, my mind free associates randomly and quickly, and the truth is the mind of the universe does as well. Connectedness makes the world go around. (Now, I sound like a hippie, and that’s okay, too).

So today as I sit in my conventional suburban home, the one you, my dear nieces, most likely remember, with my reading glasses and my list of important things to do, the doorbell rings and here arrives a present from one of my Bread Loaf friends. It is a purse that her mother in law made that reminded her of that gingham dress. And as Bread Loaf was another serendipitous phase of my life where I felt happy and free and authentic and appreciated, I realized just how much that dress had carried me through. And I was whisked briefly back to a former self that had so much life still to be lived and who was ready to take risks, and throw away old ideas and replace them with new ones. The self that is so hard to resuscitate consistently through middle age when the heart grows soft and a bit weary. I say this with a genuine nostalgia and appreciation for my wonderful life, and my wonderful friends like Aerie, who remind me how great people can be. I say this to remind myself and to remind you that there is still living to be done and it is important to question your self, your ideas, the traditions that you were raised in, your thoughts about your self and others. For without this questioning, you are merely a robotic cog in the wheel (and who wants to be a cog?) and the wheel keeps on spinning man, the wheel keeps on spinning.

Fractured Fairy Tales: That's Aerie with the hotdog.

What to Do When Your I-tunes Christmas Playlist Makes You Cry…Or, Why Nostalgia is Like a Mix Tape of Your Soul

Me with Santa & Cheap Sunglasses...

Mid-life reminds me of junior high. For starters, your body betrays you. In junior high it was pubic hair. In mid-life, it’s the muffin top. Next, you outgrow old fashions and habits. (In junior high, you must wear a training bra; in midlife you can forget the juniors department altogether, sister). And, in midlife (as in junior high) you find yourself constantly perplexed by this new layer of complexity added, well, to everything.

However, one of midlife’s quirks surprised even me, this holiday season. Me: the great over-analyzer. Me: the annoyingly reflective type who actually enjoys self-evals at work. And I hate to inform you, but this newfound revelation?  It’s a bit of a downer.

So, there’s your Debbie Downer spoiler alert.

This new sensation is a heartbreaking feeling (not dissimilar to liking the wrong boy in 8th grade).

This is an ache (not dissimilar to liking the wrong boy in 8th grade).

This is (drumroll) mid-life NOSTALGIA.

Nostalgia.

This holiday season, bits and pieces of my childhood come floating back to me through the radio as if it is my very own personalized mix-tape for the soul, my own Pandora-esque station guaranteed to well, overwhelm.

Frosty’s “thumpety thump thump” takes me back to my clunky ten-year-old fingers on my Grammy’s green piano and my proud grandparents watching me plunk away. (Yes, my grandmother painted her piano, red and then green).

“Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” reminds me of how we would trick my little brother and sister in the car by flashing on the interior lights and saying, “There’s Rudolph! Did you see him?”  Their little eyes as big as saucers with the wonderment of it all.

Loggins and Messina’s “Celebrate Me Home” brings my mother right to my frontal lobe smelling like gingerbread and vanilla candles and wearing a plaid jumper with a snowman turtle neck.

The relish tray I make every Thanksgiving takes me back to the annual family Christmas open house where my lovely Grammy would have a plethora of libations and appetizers, and always–always at the very end of things, around 2 am– there would be some very “happy” adult drinking a watered down highball while snacking on mini-gherkins, philosophizing no doubt on the ways of the world.

“Oh Christmas Tree” is me and my grandma skipping around their duplex singing at the top of our lungs, “Oh Christmas Tree,” my bare feet scraping across the old-fashioned furnace grate in between the kitchen and the living room– the warmest spot in the house.

There was my Grampy teasing me that Santa wasn’t very nice, which really upset me even though I secretly feared Santa maybe wasn’t very nice, as I feared God, Jesus, and the Holy Catholic Church might not be so nice, and had a sneaky suspicion that if I got on the wrong side of Santa, it would be very similar to getting on the wrong side of God– a very big, very bearded Old Testament style God.

There were the college Christmas eves (still at my Grammy’s, always at my Grammy’s)  at which holiday celebrations involved pitchers of Long Island Ice Teas or shots of Schnapps with Bloody Marys for breakfast. (Yes, I’m not only Catholic…I’m Irish!) Some small child sitting on my grandmother’s exercise bike while sucking on candy canes, me still trying to play the piano so that the family could sing “Silent Night.” Interestingly enough, this ritual always evolved into my brother playing “Hotel California” on the guitar while my cousin Kathi sang along– the rest of us following their lead. Then we would segue into John Cougar’s “Small Town” (because it ain’t a Hoosier Christmas without some Johnny Cougar) and that would be about it for the musical portion of our evening.

So, this holiday season, to and from work with the 24/7  holiday music radio channel on, I am finding myself swept into the past and thrust into the future.

I am weepy at the thought of what is behind me that is no more

while

simultaneously feeling weepy with gratitude for the love of the present

while

simultaneously feeling bereft with the knowledge that time keeps on slipping slipping slipping into the future, and I bet I won’t fly like an eagle to the sea.

And so in this Prufrock frame of mind, with my trousers rolled and a peach in hand, I walk the edge of the sea and try to embrace the precipice. And I open my arms and sing.

One of my favorite movies is a little-known gem called “Once Around” starring Holly Hunter and Richard Dreyfuss. In a nutshell, Hunter plays the old maid big sister who finally finds love in an older goofball (Dreyfuss) who sweeps her off her feet only to suffer a heart attack shortly thereafter. As his heart weakens and she fears his early death, they celebrate Christmas at her parents’ home (Gena Rowlands and Danny Aiello) and proceed to get falling down drunk. Hunter’s character breaks down about Dreyfuss’s character’s health and he delivers this amazing monologue about how he is going to kick death in the nuts. If death has nuts, that is.

and so, that is the only strategy I think we can take friends.

Kick death in the nuts.

Sing.

Enjoy a relish tray and a highball.

Tell stories.

Write corny blogs.

Send Christmas cards ESPECIALLY because of this SUCKY ECONOMY.

Crank up The Eagles and Johnny Cougar.

Make an I-tunes playlist with every heart-wrenching holiday song your little heart can stand.

But above all:

Let your heart be light.

(My favorite Christmas song incidentally, sheerly for the lyrics…)

Let your heart be light, my friends.

Let your heart be light.

My arm looks fat, but I'll post this anyway because I'm letting my heart be light.

Ruth’s Advice/ My Shopping Mantra

This picture was taken in Key West, Florida in 2003 on Duval Street. Jim and I were on our honeymoon and I was so grateful for the dress above. It is my favorite, or one of them. I bought it in Miami at a store called Miami Twice, a ridiculous pun on Miami Vice. It is made of this very lightweight cotton, like crinkle cloth, with a tan/beige crocheted waist and panel down the front-middle and on the edges. Sadly, I am probably going to have to purchase a new bra contraption to continue to wear it, but oh how I have always loved the halter dress and how I still do, even though it might not be age appropriate (at least according to Stacey and Clinton of TLC’s  “What Not to Wear,” but who are they really?).

I seem to write a lot about grandmothers these days, so why stop now? My paternal grandmother, Ruth Marie Strong Cassell, gave me this bit of fashion advice: Whenever you find something truly special, even if you can’t afford it, buy it. That mantra has guided me through many an impulse buy, and mostly she has been right. I certainly had no extra cash when I found myself at Miami Twice, but as soon as that dress was on, it was as if she  (Ruth)  popped up like an angel (or devil, you be the judge) on my shoulder and insisted that I buy it. So, I did and I was so glad to have that dress when Jim and I honeymooned in Key West in JULY. Yes. I said, Key West in JULY. Mostly, we walked around wet from the pool– that’s how hot it was, but this dress, which I pretty much wore everyday, was just perfect for that trip, and once I get my new bra thingamajiggy, it will be just perfect for this hotter-than-is-right summer we are having in South Carolina.

I keep thinking that with the proper “foundation garments” (as Stacey and Clinton call them) and with some midnight, free-weight arm workouts, I can perhaps wear this halter dress forever.  I’ll be that crazy old lady in her garden with her wedged sandals and her halter dress. I bet you a million dollars I will be totally age-inappropriate– at least in my own yard– which, when you think about it is the least this world can give you when you have to put up with all the other crap it throws your way. I’ll bet you I am totally age inappropriate already. So be it.

My grandmother, Ruth, had a very strong sense of her own personal style. She was short, like me, and in fact I have pretty much inherited her figure to a tee (but she would tell you that her waist was smaller than mine ever was, and that was probably true). She, like me, was a fan of the wedged heel, the pre-Spanx “foundation” garments, Wind Song perfume, and the color Robin’s Egg Blue. She once wore wedged heels hiking at Turkey Run State Park and I can recall how impressed we all were that she actually didn’t twist her ankle and how annoyed we all were that it took her forever to get down a set of stone stairs next to a waterfall overlooking a mountain (I exaggerate, but you get the idea). It was dangerous and dumb to wear high heels hiking, but that was her style and she managed, so what’s it to anybody? They were her legs to destroy as she wished.

Ruth also was a fan of the costume bling, and I have some of it still on my dresser. One of my favorite pieces is this Tahitian looking bracelet. It has some sort of totem-looking figures hammered into a thick silver cuff with a black background. I always get compliments when I wear it and I think it is because in addition to looking funky, it also has some mystery to it. She also had a lot of turquoise, pearls (the long kind), and clip-on earrings. She gave me this wonderful Mandarin collared jumpsuit, which I want to have made into a sundress, but never find the time. An artist friend made the suit for her and this is one of the ways I know that I have her figure. Made for her and it fits me perfectly.

Ruth was an artist. She had an eye for the unusual. She liked knick-knacks with Asian themes and seaside landscapes. I suppose you could say she taught me what eclectic was before I knew what eclectic meant. She also used to make the most beautiful Easter baskets. One could call them almost glamorous. They certainly possessed sophistication beyond my realm, wrapped as they were in cellophane and sitting stoically on her table in the patio room. The candy was also special, purchased in downtown Chicago at some fancy store. There wasn’t a lot of candy, but what was there was good s**t (if you know what I mean). She also used to always put a white chocolate Easter bunny in the basket– not an ordinary old milk chocolate bunny from the drugstore, but a pure white chocolate bunny that looked like a real rabbit (as opposed to looking like a cartoon rabbit). 

One of the stories my mom likes to tell is that Grandma wore a mink stoll (which I also have, sorry PETA people, but the mink was gone a long time ago) to her June wedding in Southern Indiana when the temperature was somewhere near 80. The rumor is that she rented it for the occasion and then decided that she needed to have it, so her husband bought it and that was that. She must have decided that it was special.

While Ruth wasn’t really the kind to put peanut butter cookies in her pantry, or to coddle you with goochey-goo stuff, she was the kind of woman who possessed a sense of her own style and wore it well. She wasn’t afraid to let you know that you could use a little eye-brow pencil or that your lipstick needed re-application, or that a certain hairstyle suited you. She wasn’t afraid to let you know when you were being too righteous or self-important, or critical of the people she loved.

She so worried that I would never get married. I am glad that she met Jim. She died the spring after we married. She had been in a slow decline with dementia, which was heartbreaking to witness. I can recall that even at the nursing home the last time I saw her, she told me that she had lost some weight. It was a loop in her brain that kept playing over and over (she was always worried about her figure) and I thought, “Ah, geez. Is that crap always going to play in our heads? Even when we’re 90 and in a nursing home?” And the truth is, if we care about ourselves? Probably.

She called her walker her dune-buggy. She was insulted if anyone ever bought her anything in a size over medium. And I’m sure, on that last day I saw her, she was wearing the proper foundation garment.

Not that it matters, but Stacey and Clinton would have approved.

What Stays

 

My Great Granny, Cora Willamena Finke, lived in a small house on Walnut Street in Osgood, Indiana. The house is still there and every time I go back home, I drive by it and think about all of the Christmases and family dinners that were had there. She was an amazing cook. There was always a coffee cake (made from scratch) ready to be eaten. She used to make peanut butter cookies, too—the kind with the streak marks from the fork tines—and would store them down low in her kitchen pantry in used Folgers coffee tins.

“Why don’t you see if you can’t find something to eat in there?” she would say to my curious and pudgy-self wandering wide-eyed through her kitchen. And, lo and behold, I would always find that coffee tin full of peanut butter cookies.

“Oh,” she would say. “I didn’t know those were in there. Well, go ahead and have one or two.”

And I would take three.

These are small gestures, but like I was writing in my last blog, these are the ordinary kindnesses that tend to be remembered, at least by sentimental souls like me. Now, I sometimes, like to put princess gummies (or some other disturbingly sugar-laden, Disneyfied version of food) down low in my pantry and one of my nieces will “stumble upon” them and  I will say something like “Oh, I didn’t know those were in there. Let me open that for you.”

And it will be as if they just had an amazing stroke of good luck. And I want to give them a feeling of having amazing good luck as much as I can.

I still have afghans that Granny made for us. She made me two to match my rooms. One is pink and green, and one is orange and green. They are still in pretty good shape and I use them like I would any blanket. Hayden has recently developed an affection for the pink and green afghan and every time I look at her with it I am stunned at what stays, what survives the test of time. I know Granny would be glad to see that someone was still using something that she made and that the someone using it appreciated it for not only its utility but its cozy character and charm.

Unfortunately, I inherited NONE (I repeat NONE) of Granny’s touch for sewing or quilting or knitting or cooking. I do not make coffee cakes from scratch or grow my own grapes to make homemade wine. I cannot make outfits for my nieces that they design themselves (like Granny did for my mother).

But I do keep a basket of familiar unglamorous toy-things in the same spot always just as Granny always had for me a small china tea set, a Nanny and the Professor coloring book, and probably the same set of crayons.

And I can’t cook a great home-made meal, but I did make a completely decent pre-fabricated meal for Jim yesterday and it was the kind of meal Granny would have made: meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans, dinner rolls, ice tea. What made me think of her was that Jim ate around four o’clock which is what people from Southern Indiana call “dinner.” Basically, “dinner” (in those parts) is an early supper. I remember Granny used to make these fantastic tables for my Uncle Gene and cousin Tim when they worked as masons. They would stop by and she would have the table set with goblets and china and I can see them still taking the time to sit down and eat, Uncle Gene smoking his pipe, Tim laughing his great laugh, and me just a little girl thinking, “Wow! So fancy for an afternoon” and then traipsing off with my peanut butter crumbled fingers to color some more in my Nanny and the Professor coloring book.  The adult chatter in the other room more pleasant than any television show and the aromas of Granny’s house enveloping it all.

I am sure that some of my memories are idealized, but I feel so fortunate to have had teachers like Cora Willamena Finke, who inadvertently (or maybe not) highlighted what was important in a day: a well-laid table, a good meal, a contented child, a sweet treat.

These are the pleasures that slip away. These are the lessons.

I am a teacher, but only in a literal sense. As we all know, teachers are all around us. I feel so lucky to have had so many great ones. It must be I that has had this amazing streak of good luck all these years, like a girl who has stumbled upon a tin full of cookies, I suddenly realize the treasures of my years.

Slowly

I have been looking at all of these amazing blog-sites where people are really freeing themselves from having a particular blog theme or focus and choosing instead to just see where their writing takes them. This is something I constantly preach to my students. Write into (your own) knowing, I might say. And they usually look at me with an expression that reads, “Okay, hippy-dippy, yoga-smelling teacher.” (I don’t smell like yoga. I don’t even do yoga. That’s just something I think they think I do). However, like most advice, it is easier to dispense than it is to practice. And so, I find myself thinking about what to write and it seems easier to write for my students about my summer (something they will never read, but I do it anyway) than to just write about myself for myself, and that is sort of sad, I think. Or perhaps it’s the mark of maturity? After all, I have filled spiral notebooks by the hundreds with the mysterious “broodings” of my soul.  They seem pretty pointless to me now, but on an occasion I will sit and read them and ponder how much I have changed and how little I haven’t. So, here I am trying to write a blog and wondering why and then deciding I really don’t need a reason.

This summer has been different than I expected so far.  My Gran Florence’s death has reunited my family with our “McCreery” cousins on the West Coast.  It also meant I went to California twice in two weeks, which was odd, but fine.  I had a previoulsy planned vacation with my friend Holly and so, the funeral and the vacation were four days a part. Also, my father’s family (and mine, obviously) from Pennsylvania are coming to the beach for a reunion sort of vacation.  So, I have been in touch with my paternal relatives and my father much more than ever I think and my dad wants this vacation to be really special for the “PA Peeps” as I am calling them and gave me the task of creating welcome buckets for when they check in at Litchfield Beach Resort. I love crap like that! I’m a craft cornball at heart. (Hey, there’s a clever blog title, full of alliteration! Crafty Cornball Crap. I like it).

I have put myself on the vampire schedule of my youth. I stay up until 2 or 3 AM and then wake-up at varying times from 10-12 PM. It suits me just fine except that I know I am at odds with all the malarkey I read in magazines about “getting up early for that morning jog!” I feel I can be more creative late at night when the only sound is the infrequent snoring of Jim from the bedroom and the intermittent clinkety-clink of the ceiling fan’s toggle. I surf the net, watch bad TV (think E! and Bravo!). I organize drawers and label, label, label! I spray for bugs and do the dishes and sometimes the laundry. I google random things like “how to make your own doggie door” because if we ever have a cat again the litter box is going to be very far away in the garage and the door to the garage will have a doggie door. I read a lot. I like to read more than one book at a time and I love magazines. I craft and think about crafting. My mom gave me a loom like I used to have when I was eight or nine. Maybe you had one? The kind that comes with loopy elastics that you string to make potholders? No? Well, get one. There tons of fun. All of these things feel incredibly indulgent when I think about the world racing around without me.

Life would be more bearable if everyone could get off the wheel, disappear from the grid. I had a boyfriend once who loved punk music. He used to always say, “Because if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.” And, I agree. It is so hard to s.l.o.w. myself down, even with all of this time to moodle.  I have to remind myself to stop and take a breath because I will find myself unconsciously jazzed on Diet Coke running from one task to the other buzzing from the “I can check this off my list” mentality, and what is that all about?

It takes such a huge amount of time to really get to the point where one can even begin to ask the question. WTF? What am I doing? And then the year ticks by. And then its Christmas again. And then your nieces are going to school. And then…well, you get the point.

I love the play Our Town by ThorntonWilder because it stresses this point in the most “crafty cornball” way possible.  If you have never read it, please rent/or netflix the PBS version where Paul Newman plays the Stage Manager. Life rushes by so quickly and in the midst of it all are these beautiful ordinary treasures. Quiet and moons and chocolate and memories and love and laughter and yes, sorrow, too.   It’s not that I am too stupid to realize such things, I mean after all, Oprah has told us all we must have gratitude journals! However, it is simply that I do it all too fast.

One of my lovely Southern friends said with genuine kindness, “I think you would come across (pause)… differently if you just went a little slower.” She was referring to the cadence of my speech at meetings and with students. (One of the gifts of Southern womyn is that they find it almost rude to rush through anything, and so enjoy everything…differently.)

But being the zippity-do-da go getting Midwestern gal that I am, I feel the thrill from crossing off the list. Getting it done. Being effective. This is all well and good, but as I am defintely over the hill or at least at it’s daunting precipice, I am seeing that time will go by faster and that I will have to move more slowly. 

When I lived with my Grammy in Southern Indiana about ten or fifteen years ago, she told me that her mother used to say, “Why are you in such a hurry, Mary?” when they were walking to town. She said the same thing to me once in her driveway bustling in to the car, “Why are you in sucha hurry, Shannie?” and then she told me about her mother.

I’m sure my answer was, “I don’t know.” And that is still the truth.

But what I do know now is that there are times when going slowly is exactly what the doctor ordered and for me, summer is that time. I will try. I will try. I will try to stop and smell the roses more than I wake up and smell the coffee. This is sure to irk many, but it is my life to be lived as slowly as I like.

A Meditation on the Mall

 I hate to admit it, but the one place where I don’t ponder my own eminent death is at a mall. Maybe it’s the smell of the food court, the linoleum flooring, the shadowy lighting of flourescence coming from the windows of Anne Taylor. Who knows? But what I do know is looking at stuff relaxes me. Pretty things. Christmas ornaments. Earrings. Potholders. It really doesn’t matter. I’ll look at anything as long as it is in a mall.

For starters, the mall is mostly relaxing to me when I am NOT buying anything. When I am shopping to actually make a purchase, the whole scenario takes on the nuance of an errand. Buying stuff requires (usually) trying stuff on and that can be a wee bit stressful—always. (Shopping for jeans and bathing suits is right on top of the how to torture me list.) But walking around the mall? Not in the mall-walker sense but in the remember in junior high when you had nothing to do and so you walked around the mall sense, is (as we used to say back in the day) totally awesome.

My favorite store at the moment is Anthropologie. I learned recently that they have two hired artists who solely work for their store creating magnificent arrangements of stuff. It matters not that there is little I can afford there. I love perusing, running my hands through boxes of clearance door knobs, and cutesy kitchen towels. I love the section in the back where they have bed linens, bath soaps, and pajamas. I love the handbags they sequester on the corners of clothing displays. A walk through Anthropologie is the equivalent of a muscle relaxer. A brief stroll and I am pain-free. To put it in modern parlance, I ❤ it.

 I’ll even look at pictures of stuff, hence my fondness of fashion mags full of clothing and handbags that I will never be able to afford, and even if I did, I would never feel comfortable buying. It relaxes me to stare at the latest wedgey heel from Jean Paul Gaultier and Rachel Zoe’s recommended clutch handbag for the fall.

Sadly, I have let this method of relaxation infiltrate my home. QVC is my new morning go-to channel. Tired of hearing reports of abused children and idiotic politicians, I have turned to the cheezy glitz of sales pitches. I feel I need to know why (exactly) I won’t be the same unless I buy a set of six Victorian Christmas ornaments shaped like Faberge eggs that play carols for an easy payment of $16.99 for two months. I feel I need to see how Philosophy’s Hope in a Jar transforms an aging model’s face into the feathery perfection of a twenty year old. Again, purchasing anything from QVC requires decision making which equals stress. Just watching is pure relaxation.

I guess to me, walking through a mall, or flipping through a mag, or listening to a sales pitch for things I’ll never need, makes me feel like I have choices and having choices is like having freedom. And isn’t that what America stands for? Let freedom ring.

Stupid Sonnet

Riding My Bike at the End of the World

 

In the event of an apocalypse,

I shall hope to have my bike.

And upon its seat I’ll place my hips,

and head into the night.

 

The trees and street will flutter fast

like runaway butterflies fleeing,

and with my bell I’ll twinkle past

those paralyzed with weeping.

 

To the horizon my bike will head

with no thought of return or hope,

and the faster I pedal the less I dread

my neck found in God’s rope

 

And when in my clutches you find this poem,

at least you’ll know I was happy goin’!

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