Tangled but not defeated

How often does life dish up a tangled mess that you know at the outset is solvable?

I wish I had taken a “before picture” because you would be truly impressed. The owner of this necklace gave it to me in a dense snarled mass small enough to fit in a snack bag. She assumed that I’d be cutting the knots and restringing.

The task really woke me up to something.  It wasn’t easy. It took patience. It took repeated efforts interspersed with no-effort (just like doing The New York Times crossword puzzle). It took good light, two pairs of glasses, and a tool (the fowl pin). 

But because I knew that all knots can be undone, not once did I cave to those stalling and defeating narratives, “I can’t do it” or “it can’t be done”. 

Now onward and upward (that would be to the writing room)!

Screen and page catch up

Image result for rachel mcadams and colin farrellTrue Detective, Season Two, received mixed reviews, but I found it pretty compelling. The plot gets dense, meaning I had to refer to the internet now and then, but I didn’t mind (thank god for the “Pause” button!). The characters are really great, with good back stories, and there’s plenty of corruption and suspense to go around, which I like.

And, I cannot stop raving about the show’s spectacular opener.

[Leonard Coen sings “Never mind” to a haunting array of double/triple images featuring the faces of the main characters and aerials of California].
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I’ve never seen Vince Vaughn in a role that I liked until now. Even though by the last couple of episodes the lack of inflection in his voice made me a little nuts, he was amazing. He plays a complicated and sympathetic Mafioso-type who is clever but not quite clever enough. There’s an erotic scene between Farrell and McAdams that starts when they are in hiding in a cheap hotel room. The way they DON’T look at each other is every bit as charged as how they DO look at each other. It was miles from that up-against-the-wall-standing-fuck so often dished up on film when two characters have held off acting on their mutual attraction.
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I can’t talk about Taylor Kitsch without totally embarrassing myself. Suffice it to say, I ate up “Friday Night Lights” a couple of summers ago. Image result

Finished the novel by Ben H. Winters called “Underground Airlines”. It was the kind of dystopian novel that describes a landscape that could be fifteen minutes from now (my favorite kind — think: Octavia Butler, “Parable of the Sower”).  The central conceit is that four states have maintained the institution of human bondage. The main character is a PB (‘person bonded’) who is ‘freed’ in order to capture runaways.

The scenes in Indiana of a black man negotiating white neighborhoods or encountering policemen read like today’s newspaper. The tracking chip inserted in the base of the protagonist’s skull could be tomorrow. It was a real page turner, with plenty of corruption and twists of plot, so I wasn’t surprised to see that the author has won both mystery and sci-fi writing prizes.

Like the evening news, the book forces a look at how the effects of slavery linger.

I heard the author, who is white, interviewed and could relate to the doubts engendered by inventing African American characters. The book was well-received, but nothing like the the more recently published “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead. I heard Teri Gross interview Whitehead last week and look forward to reading the book soon. I felt a smidge of pain on Winters’ behalf when his novel was not mentioned in Teri’s list of recent books dealing with slavery.

Now, I’m reading J.D.Vance’s, Hillbilly Elegy. I’ll post some notes about it later.

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On target auto correct 

A Salem gate. My sister and I stand at one today. A new agency came and did an intake (it was at one, not eleven as my sister said, but it was okay. I was able to stay). With this agency, she won’t have to be “the boss”. Being the boss would have required that she access a state-kept data base of PCAs, make calls, set up interviews, then submit all the papers of employment. After that, she’d be responsible for preparing and submitting time sheets twice monthly. The intense challenge of filling out time sheets is one reason the other PCA walked out (I do my own).

The employer model of providing support for the disabled can be empowering. But not when your disabilities include ADHD, severely impaired executive function and radically restricted movement.


But! This agency tends not to hire relatives. I’d have to approach the various vendors, see what their protocols are, possibly attend trainings. I don’t really want to. It might just be time to walk through this gate and see how we might be able to re-work things.

Will it suck to be attending to a spectrum of need without getting paid for it? Probably. But we’re not talking about a lot of money here and I’m curious to find out whether this change might bring benefit not just to my sister but also to me.

It rained on the drive home and it took a full hour. I chanted all the way. The phrase that came between the syllables was a new one. Very basic. Very on target. “I have a right to my existence”.

When I texted my husband later, I meant to report that I had chanted all the way home. But auto correct wrote this: “I changed all the way home”.

And by God. It was true.

9/12

I was meeting with a fellow landscape-volunteer for the elementary school when her husband called. “Turn on the TV. Turn on the TV.” The friend said, “it’s Osama bin Laden”. Believe it or not, that was the first time I’d heard that name (an unthinkable state of ignorance now, with FB, twitter, etc.). We watched the towers go down in real time.K was sent home from work, the office closed. There was the fear of more planes, more death.

Because the boys were young (7 and 5), we didn’t watch the endless replays. We had a camping trip planned for the weekend and were glad to have a reason to interrupt routines, but actually drove down into North Adams at one point to buy a newspaper. A couple of times while the kids bombed around on their bicycles, K and I turned on the van engine and listened to the radio in a state of shock. I remember feeling a sense of kinship with our grandparent’s generation, listening for news about the war, huddled around a radio.

I remember how startlingly blue the sky was on 9/11. A perfect fall day. I remember reading an email from the school saying, “we have not told them.” I remember calling a friend over before I walked over to pick up the boys, embracing her and crying, “what kind of world are they growing up in?”

On Facebook yesterday (it’s 9/12 now), I watched a video clip of tolling church bells on the campus of UMass/Amherst. Not only was it a haunting sound, but the comments rolling underneath gave me chills, especially the ones saying things like, “my son was in kindergarten that day and now he’s a junior at UMass”. And then there were comments simply saying what they were doing that day. Where they were or who they lost. We will all remember.

It took days to find out if my brother was okay. He had been scheduled to fly from somewhere in Europe into D.C. to give a lecture. All the other doctors (sensibly) cancelled, but he was adamant about showing up. He first flew to somewhere in the Caribbean and next to Canada where he rented a car.

My brother, like my son, went to McGill and had crossed that border many, many times without incident. But this was post 9/11. Because he was coming from Europe, he had multiple currencies on his person — suspect. It was a one-way car rental — suspect. And then there was the Irish surname — also suspect given the long and troubled history with bombs (my sister maintains we’re related to Timothy McVeigh, but never mind that).

The police at the U.S./Canadian border thoroughly took apart the car. I don’t mean pulled him over to inspect the trunk and open a few suitcases — I mean, unbolting door panels, ripping up floor mats, lifting seat cushions.

I may have gotten some of those details wrong, but you get the gist.

What I don’t remember — is what we said to our sons, our young and impressionable and fairly innocent sons. What did I say?

 

P.S. That’s a SoulCollage card referring directly to the attacks of 9/11 and also referring indirectly to my maternal grandfather (using magazine images), who came to NYC in 1923, spent decades working in the bowels of ships while raising a family in Park Slope, Brooklyn, before moving up to Newburgh, NY.

P.P.S. The creepiest local connection was that the Boston hijackers spent their final night on this earth in a hotel less than a mile down the road. The place has since been razed and an apartment building sits there now.

P.P.S. A good friend of mine move to Battery Park sometime later and when we visited her, we went to Ground Zero. It was awful. One of the worst things? Looking at the dust on nearby building knowing that it had DNA in it.

What a difference a year makes


With the start of school, the parade of kids with backpacks and parents with umbrellas began today (yes, we are getting some rain — not much, but a little).  Last year, Finn rocketed between windows offering up his noisy volley of barks. It was nerve wracking. I had to keep the curtains closed.

Today? One little growl. That was it!

And here are a few progress shots of a cloth totem I am calling “Woven Girl”.


Even with red and green in the crown it doesn’t show up very well. Deanna suggested silver beads. I may give that a go.

I was inspired by Jude’s critters. Needing a use for the many rectangles of woven strips I’ve made. And, I wanted to show myself how much easier it is to craft a figure in two, as opposed to three, dimensions.

But she feels a little anonymous to me. Without a season. Or a purpose. I could think of her as a sampler and be done with it. But maybe she just needs a better name?