Archive | April, 2009

Dear Holding Hands at the Mall

30 Apr

Dear Holding Hands at the Mall,

I can’t do it.

Maybe I still secretly feel like a middle schooler, a tiny bit embarrassed to be in a public place with this person next to me who is my “boyfriend” (not that he is fake or imaginary or not really my boyfriend). (It’s just that word, boyfriend. When I was younger I thought at some point I would reach an age at which having a boyfriend seemed appropriate rather than farcical. Now it seems that I will probably skip from feeling too young to have a boyfriend to too old to have a boyfriend.) (Italics in the sense of, “Ooooh, is that your boyfriend? Which, by the way, my two female bosses did the other night when I happened to see them in a public place. And I had my boyfriend with me. We were not holding hands. We were also not at the mall.)

When I was in middle school, and I did have a boyfriend for about 2 1/2 days, we did hold hands sometimes. That was about it. But even then, when at the mall, I was not into holding hands. Perhaps it was because I was oh-so-aware of the adults around and the looks they were giving my friends (not me, obviously, the looks did not apply to me). (To be fair, I was not knocking things over or screaming “Don’t touch my boob!” in a tone that obviously implied if it ever “accidentally” happened again, I would ummmm squeal and giggle some more.)

To be accurate as well as fair, I was not that into holding hands at school either, because of the looks teachers gave, or at my house because of my parents. Let’s just say I was a self-conscious middle schooler and an even more self-conscious middle school girlfriend. When all the pressure got to be too much I broke up with him.

At any rate, when my boyfriend (hello! have a good day!) reached for my hand at the mall the other day, I got kind of jumpy and may have ended up approximately three feet away from him. “No holding hands at the mall!” I blurted without thinking about how very very 1990s I would sound.

Even though he’s my boyfriend that does not make certain activities okay in certain public places.




Dear Leafblowers

22 Apr

Dear Leafblowers,


It is a lovely, cold, rainy spring day, and I am TRYING to visualize myself back to yesterday, or forward to some imaginary day in the future when I will again see blue sky…and tulips swaying in the wind…soft breezes making the ice in my water dip and clink…the bright design of a beach towel draped over my arm…I can almost smell the grass under my feet…


OFF damn thing, OFF I say.

This, actually, goes for all seasons.  And yes, I can still hear it idling.  All the way, you can do it, come on little guy, you don’t need your big bad noise-making machine to be a man…Just think what big arms you could have if you used a RAKE!  And then we could call you a rake, too, if you wanted, just like Rhett, and wouldn’t that be sexy.



Dear Signage

18 Apr

Dear Signage,

We’ve had several amusing encounters lately, and I’d like to document them here.

Exhibit A that grammar is important and people are bad at advertising and good at getting in their own way:

The Pest Store

Tacked to a light pole near a currently empty building, formerly sketchy looking co-op market grocery (aka druglord hangout). (Hey, maybe s/he really liked fruit).

But why would I want “stop” ants? Wouldn’t I want to just, you know, actually stop them? And what’s a pest store? Is it like a pet store, but for pests? But why would I want to buy pests? So many questions, so few answers.

Exhibit B that people assume they are understood:


It’s a road sign. That says CHILDREN. On a two-lane country road in between Amherst, Northampton, Easthampton, Hadley, and Smallhampton. Or somewhere around there at any rate. What about CHILDREN? They exist? They are nice? We like them? Please drive slowly? Please pick them up?

Also amusing in the way of children near Amherst, Massachusetts:


Now, this may seem like a perfectly normal sign. We see this painted along the sides of…well, of school buses, all the time. What we don’t often see is this as a removable sign (complete with flashing yellow lights) on top of a sedan, a SUV, a minivan, and another sedan. That’s right, people. In Amherst, the so-called “SCHOOL BUS” is actually what I grew up referring to as a car pool…

Exhibit C that Amherst is really, really small (but lovely! oh so lovely!):


Along the highway, less than a mile from the town. That is, across the street from the Howard Johnson. Oh, I’m sorry, I mean, the HoJo. Because that sort of stupid “I’m hip with the people” self-inflicted commercial nickname worked out so well for WaMu.

So do bison go “woooah” kind of like a fog horn, or is it more of a “moooo”? Do you think they could function as SCHOOL BUS as well? For the CHILDREN?




Dear Body

16 Apr

Dear Body,

Every now and then I am aware of you as something oh-so physical and separate from my thoughts and emotions, something meant to be lived in and used hard, and capable of surviving incredible things, and having an astounding capacity for healing.

This is not, actually, a letter about whether or not I believe in the soul. It’s a letter about corporal being, or maybe…being corporal.

Perhaps here I should explain what a complicated relationship we have. I really do appreciate you on a daily basis– the breathing, the eating and sleeping and heart beating. Oh the other hand, we often don’t get along. You often seem unhappy with me, and punish me with a stomachache or a headache, which honestly, make me not too fond of you either. Especially when I have spoiled you by doing yoga and biofeedback and not eating or drinking things I like and going to bed early and getting lots of sleep and such.

But every now and then– especially when you and I suffer minor physical ailments, I am slaphappy amazed at your ability to stand up and shake yourself off. Burns, cuts, and bruises: they’re all part of the record that we’ve been here. That life has been, you know, lived, and left its mark. There just is day-to-day wear and tear, and that’s great. It means we were cooking, or running too fast as children and fell, or really remarkably clumsy with cheese graters.

The other day I was in a coffeeshop across the country (duh) and came across a little sign that said something like, “The goal should not be to arrive at one’s grave in a perfectly attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to slide in sideways at the last moment, having thoroughly used your body up, latte in one hand and chocolate in the other, shouting ‘WHOOOOO! What a ride!'”

Because obviously coffeeshop signs are where I learn most of my great lessons.

But no, prior to that, I was also wandering around alternately cursing and marveling at my aching sinuses, and my neckache (to the right, just below the thumbhandle of my skull), and the way my stomach didn’t hurt even though I’d had 5 (five!) sips of wine the night before. And isn’t it fascinating, that if I stand very still and very straight, and breathe deeply, and stretch my arms up over head, I feel both very anchored and very tall, and I can feel everything inside of me– my liver, and my ribs, and my spine, and my worry about what happens next year, and my what-do-I-make-for-dinner, all take a break from being busy little working things, and stretch along with my muscles?

And if I look to my left elbow, I see the shadow of the burn scar from seventh grade when I was making churros, and the darker outline of the burn from September when I was making biscuits to go with the very first time I ever made fried chicken. If I look down, I see the little bones in my ankles that always get blisters from new shoes, and on my hip is a little round mark from a spider bite from four years ago…and, well, thanks for holding on through all of that.

I like that you are a time-marker, a history-keeper. We’ll just have to keep finding ways to get along– and even though I get mad because you seem more fragile than other people’s bodies, at least we’re good at communicating…right?



Dear Easter

12 Apr

Dear Easter,

So there were a lot of children in church this morning. And at some point, they asked all the children to come to the back of the church. They gave them all paper flowers, and then for a little while they were all held in a group back there before walking up the main aisle and placing the flowers on a cross.

All the little girls were standing there, wearing pink, and yellow, and blue dresses, with absurdly big bows in their hair and little velcroed dress-up shoes.

And they all stand there clutching their flowers, and holding hands, and twirling their hair, and giving each other hugs.

And the little boys are wearing little button up shirts and polos and slacks. Except one little boy was wearing track pants, and most of the shirts were very recently untucked.

And–and!–they were using their flowers as swords.

Their little Easter, fragile, paper, Jesus flowers.

Then all the children walk up the aisle, and then all of a sudden there are children everywhere. They’re wandering around, looking for their parents– and then they see them!– and they start climbing over pews and knees and stranger’s laps to get there. Because, I mean, if they went around, they might lose sight of them again. Better to go as the crow flies.


Happy Easter egg hunting in the rain! Oh, the memories…my sister crying because other kids were faster and more aggressive, me crying because I was too overwhelmed looking at all the kids running and couldn’t remember to look for eggs and therefore didn’t get any…my parents holding our own private hunt at home to stop the tears…

We were more, ahem, “readers” in our family. Really, really good at reading.



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