SOL Tuesday Tight, snug pants

Tight, snug pants

Tight fitting pants. She wore
Pants that fit. Snugly
over her protruding butt cheeks
those pants, they fit. Those pants
blue, stretchy, expensive, exclusive
but only to the owner. Designed 
for golf, to walk, to swing
to bend - a forgiving material -
signaling, signaling ...
signaling what exactly?


A mirror confirms
what the skin has preached:
the fit is snug,
the seams prepared for
a tension of course.
Those pants, those pants
they fit and they
expose 
a figure reluctant.

So blue blue blue
So smooth smooth smooth
So un-char-act-er-is-tic
So snug snug snug

Tight? Too tight?
Panty lines 
for all to see? 
Trying too hard,
Not trying hard enough?

From somewhere else
These those my your our their 
pants
look great you say

You don't say
I see you wore
those pants.

Take 2

How long does it take to feel the way you want in your skin that is your own and just fine and no one else's? How many times will you shrink and slink and try to hide your fullness that's actually a kind of emptiness but no one is looking but everyone's judging so what difference does it make? What's the balance between your hair gone wild, your hair pressed straight, your hair undone just woke up, no bonnet in sight, your hair as it is, was and ever shall be, amen?
How do you know when you've hit rock bottom of peak middle age right when you begin your disappearing act from the public sphere not because you want to but because you become unseen not unsightly only invisible except when your credit card can do the talking? What's the shelf life of your sorrows buried under unused spices that have lost their smell but not their color, how long do you plan on keeping them? The spices and the sorrows - by now they make a package that cannot be returned.

SOL Tuesday Marley Spoon

One of my agreements with myself for writing on Tuesdays is not to try too hard. Meaning I don’t intend to labor long or hard over what will end up on this page finally. No sweat. That’s the rule. I began drafting a post but it was becoming kind of academic – look at what I’ve been reading and how wise it’s made me. So I stopped and began again. And here I am babbling.

A few weeks ago I started a subscription to a a meal service. Once a week on Monday evenings I receive a box of ingredients for 3 meals, 2 portions of each. A week in advance I decide on which dishes and during the week I do my level best to follow each of the 6-step recipes to completion. So far I’ve tried a Thai shrimp on rice noodles, teriyaki chicken wraps (teen’s fave so far), Wiener Schnitzel, Argentinian Chimichurri, empanadas, and cashew chicken. All of this is a radical departure from my previous standard cooking fare which included variations on rice or noodles with some form of vegetable, ground beef or chicken. I’ve always been dedicated to quick, simple and efficient. What I’m doing now is only some of those some of the time (rarely quick).

That said, my teen is appreciative and encouraging. For my part the jury is still out. I suppose it’s the effort of growing new habits that’s a bit of a challenge. I mostly enjoy the results. I have learned that I don’t have to make all the salads in addition to the main course. It’s fine to use half the pepperoni instead of the whole. The variety of flavors is a plus. But I’m not sure that I really want to spend all that time in the kitchen, although I feel myself getting better at managing several tasks. Stove top and oven at the same time? Getting there.

Tonight I put on Billy Joel’s greatest hits as I boiled the chicken breast and baked the sliced potatoes, placed the chicken into the sweet spicy sauce with onions, pepperoni and garlic in a pan and then then pulled it apart to make tasty sandwiches on toasted baguette.

I didn’t know I had it in me. Not looking to become a real foodie but I’m willing to learn a few new tricks to take me into the next phase.

SOL Tuesday Workshop Proposal Black Out

One common misunderstanding of leadership assumes that it means being above or in front of others. In this session we will consider what it looks like when you lead from right where you are in your organization and community. That might be from the middle or the sidelines, behind the scenes or someplace else. We’ll study examples of school folks who have built sustainable personal and professional networks but who were not holders of titled positions. Participants will recognize ways in which they may already be hosting a community or consider where they might begin. None of us needs to be a superhero to initiate change that matters. Around-the-way leadership helps us think about bringing folks together focused on accessibility and inclusion.

Schools typically reinforce top-to-bottom hierarchies. To advance in education teachers are counseled to ‘move up’ into administration. This session aims to offer a different way of considering leadership that is community and network-based, that relies on peer-level relationships, mutuality and shared growth. As individuals and groups we can initiate activities that benefit and interest others without having anyone confer a title upon us. To lead does not mean having all the answers; it can be about discovering better questions together. Often, as non-white, non-male, non-cis and/or non-hetero folks in independent schools we may find ourselves building and gathering without calling it leadership. Here, we’ll ask both why and what else. Interrogation, validation and celebration best summarize the aims of this highly interactive workshop.

Workshop Proposal 12478

leadership assumes being above
                                          others.
You lead
                from right where 
                                               you
                                      might        be.

None of us needs to be a superhero to initiate change that matters.

bring folks together.


Schools reinforce hierarchies.
To advance, teachers 'move up'
into administration.

we can initiate activities that benefit and interest others without having a title.
ask both why and what else.

This is my proposal.

SOL Tuesday Random Thoughts

Eating strawberries before they go bad is a race we’re not always going to win.

Received recipes require a remarkable repository of receptacles.

Receptacles might muddle a spelling bee champ’s reputation.

6 word memoirs for inanimate objects:

Plumbing - flow following blockage, the great relief; 
Washing machine - knickers in a twist on purpose; 
CD Player - Ha, ha, ha! I still work! 
Hardwood floors - Dust, be not proud, I say! 

I read today that mess is morally neutral.

"Insert poetry" read the instructions.
Use special spacing.
Insert poetry.
Use more special spacing.
Insert poetry.
Specialize the spacing used.
Insert poetry.
       s p a c i n g is special.
Insert poetry.
Wow that was easy!

SOL Tuesday Men stories

M.

He’s no longer in Vienna, been away for at least a decade. Living ‘off the grid’ with no internet connection. I respect that. Keeping a farm going on the southern tip of Wales with a few others. Close to the sea, he tells me. I picture him in my mind’s eye: purposeful, unhurried and at peace, finally. Having cast off the yoke of some key modern conveniences, perhaps he has at last arrived at a life worth calling his own.

F.

Whenever we spoke the last time it must have been brief, awkward even. So many years apart, a vastness of water under the bridge, we were almost shy with each other. I felt guarded in offering too much information from my life. Yes, he should know that I did not fall on my face but how much detail to convey it? Instead, I relied on his desire to impress and let him tell me about his latest appointment at the Uni in Weimar, a few recent publications, a cooperation with an Ivy League professor. He sounded largely pleased with himself and his accomplishments. How could it be otherwise? In the end I didn’t need to reveal much about myself at all. It dawned on me then: he was actually never that enthusiastic about the listening part of conversation.

B.

This guy. His laugh – from a high pitched near squeak to a raspy panting – so typical. How we met: at a road race. Before he came over to chat me up, he pointed out my high calf muscles to his friends. After the race we exchanged numbers. A day or two later we were jogging in my neighborhood park. A week later I was at his place more than my own. The week after that we decided to tie the knot. A month after that we followed through. It was always a good choice. Impulsive, yes. Radical, yes. Just enough of the right stuff to safely untie the knot when it was time. We’re still a surprisingly good team. His laugh remains notorious. I chose well.

SOL Tuesday My Bestie

Let me tell you ’bout my bestie because she’s not likely to tell you about herself. My oldest friend on the earth. She has seen me through two marriages, a host of boyfriends, the raising of two very distinct boys, the whole of my teaching career; through two graduate degrees, the burial of both of my parents, my competitive running streak as well as a couple of knee surgeries. She is the best of the best and we haven’t lived in the same city since 1987; not on the same continent since 1991. See, I told you she’s really my bestie.

Cliche but true – we were college roommates. She was the lanky hurdler/ long jumper from Maine and I was the Black girl from Cleveland – both of us proud to have been accepted into our first choice Ivy League school. We corresponded in that first summer before arriving on campus, exchanged pictures and background stories. I still have those letters – hand written on legal pad paper in legible but not overly neat print. By the time we actually met in person, we had a good idea of what we were getting into. No clicking needed, we were a successful match.

It’s funny to remember that first year, how we hung out and found a reasonably good mix of friends. We ran track together, worked several shifts on the dish line together, shared a unique sense of humor. She was lack, I was luster. While we had some upsets in there too, when we reunited to share a dorm room overlooking the main green our senior year, it was time extremely well spent.

After graduation she moved to pursue her dream of working in public television and I was bent on getting back to my long distance boyfriend in Vienna. Now we’re these middle aged ladies in our 50s who love a good long zoom chat to catch up and cackle. She’s the person I called to join me at the funeral when each of my parents passed away. She’s seen me fall in love, out of love, call it quits and call it a day, counseled me through “I do” and then “I don’t”. It has taken me half a lifetime but by now I know, she has always been my great love, my bestie, Cath.

The way we were, the way we are.

SOL Tuesday Trying stuff out

Cacophony

What the trees said on my last walk:

What the leaves on those trees whispered as I walked:

What the trail kept bringing up, step after step:

What the birds hiding in the branches called after me:

Chatty twigs, chuckling stones, throaty roots, insistent finches

I heard them but could not answer back.

Saved by the bell hooks

“In our society we make much of love and say little about fear.”

– bell hooks, All About Love, 2001. p. 93
Fear about little
say and love
of much
make we our society.

In society make of 
and little fear
about say love
much we,
our.

Love society
fear little
make much and 
say our
In we of about

we about fear in society
our little love of much
say,
make
We make little of love
say much in society
about our fear.

We fear love, society, in and about much, say little of our make.

Make society love much
in our fear little say of we
about

SOL Tuesday Notes on Reading

I can read again. Like whole books within a week or even a couple of days now that I’m on break. It’s wonderful and sobering at the same time.

My current reading streak started about 3 weeks ago when I stumbled across a novel about 10 year old twins who catch on fire when they’re upset and it felt like the world was back in order when they got to have a happy ending.

My favorite lines from the fire twins in Kevin Wilson’s Nothing To See Here:

“And if it’s bad?” Roland said. “Like at Gran-Gran and Pop-Pop’s?”

“We’ll just burn it all down,” Bessie said. “Everything. Everyone. We’ll set it on fire.”

p. 105

Roland and Bessie won me over early on. Their grievances were not misplaced. Lilian, who becomes their caregiver and eventual guardian, has got to be one of the most endearing kick-ass heroines I’ve ever come to appreciate in a novel.

I brought home a bunch of poetry for spring break. Young poetry, recent poetry. Poetry where I get the political and cultural references because I am living them. It’s a source of amazement to me that these poets and I are working with the same alphabet and after that they take off for the stars.

I also realized that not everything we read needs to be breathtaking or heart-stopping. We need breaks. A book I just read where I did not love the main character at all – I call it a filler. (It was My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh, by the way.) Something to tide me over, maybe in preparation for The Next Big Thing. Maybe not. The fact that I can mentally afford a filler right now astounds me.

I don’t care about swear words in my reading the way I thought I used to. I recently purchased a book that has f*cking on every page. The title is Do The F*cking Work. And sometimes I feel just like that.

Without any previous knowledge of the author or her place in pop culture, I picked up Little Weirds by Jenny Slate from the school library. I was reminded a bit of Amy Krause Rosenthal’s Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life and of Ross Gay’s essayettes in The Book of Delights. Collections of both concrete and ephemeral things held up to the light or against the darkness for our consideration. Fantastical and silly and relatable, I loved everything about these short delicious pieces. It’s how I want to write when I grow up.

I have one book on the bench in the kitchen. American Sonnets For My Past and Future Assassin by Terrence Hayes. 70 sonnets some of which elude me and many which call me in for a conference. I keep it in the kitchen and read a sonnet or two after breakfast or lunch. These are poems that feel best to read on a full stomach.

An annoyance: Book blurbs that tell you about a book you are not currently holding in your hands.

I’m so grateful to be able to read again. With abandon. It’s like breathing again smoothly following a nasty head cold. Like when you can hardly remember ever having been sick.

That’s saying a lot.

SOL Tuesday Where X marks the spot

I am learning all over again
what is dear
and beloved.

A warm summer evening
lush green grass surrounds
a reddish wood 
beneath their slow dancing feet

Cheek to brown cheek
in close and sure
so sure of every step
as if there were never
a forgetting 

I want to blush
at their embrace
I hardly know them this way
these familiar strangers
to whom I owe everything

but before me and ever
after
they remain each others'
treasures.

For a moment,
their moment
I saw where x
marks the spot.


I spent several days in search of a precious photo album which contained my favorite picture of mom and dad. It must have been 1996 or 97 when my oldest was around 3. We visited my godparents who had a house out in the ‘boondocks’ as my mother called it. Of course we had ribs and potato salad and music. When my parents got up to dance on this generous patio I snapped a photograph that has remained deep in my heart although I have only looked at it a handful of times in the many years since. Today I found the album and recovered the picture which I will now frame and hang up in our new apartment.

Photo: S. Spelic

SOL Tuesday April 6th Poems

Sometimes we walk the earth with more feelings than our bodies can contain. Some of us go ahead and write a poem or two to take the pressure off.

The lost lemons

I found the lemons, he wrote.
among the potatoes.
Imagine!

Lemons are tricky, I replied.
Bright yellow secrets
hiding under dull
dusty potatoes.



Tears

How you like your tears?
Singular and leaky, one pitiful drop 
after another;
Or maybe like a gush,
flash flooding your face and every
tissue you can find?

You keep them tears a secret
they'll divulge your business
some other time when you think
they are long gone.
Folks afraid of tears let loose
Tears can break things.

Ever think about how tear and tear
look alike but ain't the same
but could be related;
causal cousins sometimes
tears that tear,  
not hearts but facades.
the slow steady work of salty 
water damage.