I live on a busy-ish street that has cars parked on both
sides, lots of dogs and people running and kids, all of which makes for
frustration and awkward navigation. So, with the Clintonville hippies (who
drive 5 mph and wave at every car on the road) and the regular folks (who are in a hurry to get through the
obstacle course of Acton Rd) there are some tensions. Some hand gestures,
finger gestures, honking, and so on. We all try to be considerate while
simultaneously getting where we need to go and getting out of the way for
everyone else. It’s a challenge. Daily. (It will be a relief to move from this
street. I dream of someplace quieter, more off the path, less traffic, less
Today, I took my run and ran my nearly-overdue library books
to the return box. It was/is a
beautiful morning. On the way home, I ran up the hill and then preformed my
end-of-run routine, lunges, backwards running, etc. A car came up rather fast
and I saw a squirrel sitting in the car’s path. The driver swerved to miss the
rodent. Missed just by a hair or two, the squirrel dashed up a tree, laughing
at the near miss. The car slowed, stopped, and reversed. The driver lowered his
window, and I said, “You missed.” He laughed and said that he was thankful and
that he should slow down and drive more carefully “around here.” I heartily agreed. It was a
nice way to start the day. No death. A conscious in the making.
A little humanity, a little self-correction, a little
admittance and responsibility, hell slow down a little—nice work, sir, nice
I can find my way through my apartment in the dark—curtains
drawn, no moonlight, just the red laser glow of the dvd player. I don’t need a
map to navigate the front yard or the back, to find my way to the bathroom, or steer
through S’s room, befallen toys and all—I know the way.The landscape of the apartment lives in
my muscles, in my bones, in my head—it is automatic.
The landscape of my heart has muscle memory too. Although unlike
the house, when I find myself on auto-navigator, the alarm sounds. And I jump up
and analyze and call my shrink and write about it and meter it all out to be
sure that my automatic response is not just a reaction borne from too much hurt
and walls and fear and experience. That the course is correct and the best route to take, even
if it is not the most automatic of responses.But still, there are days when I wonder: am I headed for
that same brick wall?
The old, well-loved map of my heart is crumbling—the roads
are blurred from the grease of many finger smudges, from over-handling. My
heart wants to follow the path, the well-worn path, that I’ve walked so many
times. There is comfort in knowing your way—in automatic navigation. It’s easy
to see in the dark when my body knows the way—I won’t stumble because I’ve been
here before. My feet are the very same feet the have worn this once grassy
place into a hard, dirt road.
Maybe it’s time to stomp out a new path. It will be tough. I
may need a light. I will stumble. I may even get poison ivy.
Tuesday my daughter fell asleep in my arms at the grocery
store. We snuggle a lot, but she doesn’t sleep in my arms as much now. I’d
forgotten how much I missed it—hot closeness, combined body heat making us both
sweaty, feeling her breath and her full weight resting on me—it’s a perfect
After a few moments of awe and revelry and tenderness, I
remembered how damn heavy she is and how hard it is to hold a toddler while
pushing a full cart of groceries—I remembered the inconvenience of a sleeping
baby attached to my body—can I put her down? Will it wake her up? If I put her
down and she’s asleep, then I could do dishes, or finish shopping, or have a
moment to myself?
It’s so different now—but there's less time spent with her on my
body. I miss that. I never thought I would miss that. You don’t miss it until
it’s gone—or in my case, until it’s gone and back for a fleeting second. How
I parked the cart (full of defrosting peas and soupy popsicles)
and swayed with her back-and-forth for awhile. She was sacked out. That’s what
they mean when they say “sleeps like a baby.” D came to the rescue and checked
out so I could take her to the car. She woke up and clapped for her daddy. She missed us no
My body, my voice, my touch, my presence gives my daughter
relief. When she sees me after a long day at school, she relaxes a little—there
is a smile and a sigh—she is relieved and thankful and feels safe and supported
and like she is totally okay. I love that I make her feel safe and relieved.
That I am the source of her peace and comfort and love. I pray to be that for
her for as long as possible. (How long is that possible?) Being a source of
comfort is so good for me too—I feel useful and needed and worthy. That I get
to be the one that rolls her shoulders back—I give her peace. What a cool,
amazing, loving, perfect thing that I can give her…that’s love Baby.
Someone who makes you feel safe and calm and relaxed and
that gets you—that’s love. (This is the marker for lovers, friends, and family
alike—it’s what we all crave, whether we know it or not.) It’s perfect.
Up until my trip to the Dominican, my exposure and knowledge
of Central America was entirely comprised of Fugees’ lyrics and a few Haitians
and Dominicans that I met while living in Brooklyn (one of which could not figure out how to set or use a digital alarm clock.) It was very much like I thought it would be. Two worlds—one
resort, one real—and whichever you were in, you were always desperate for the
Some days I am happy that I don’t know that kind of poverty,
but other days, and maybe a majority of them, I see “that kind of poverty” as a
release. I am trapped like the rest of us, fat, pretty, clean,
spoiled-by-running-water types, into believing that poverty is bad. And that,
all of the poor folks that we saw (saw from the relative safety of our tour
bus) want to have more—more money, more food, more arugula.
And how arrogant am I? (I have been trying to answer that
question outside of this context for 35 years to little avail.) Why would a
Dominican person living in a nice house on a hill with coconuts, and palms, and
dogs, and horses, and chickens—with a plantation/farm—want to live in Columbus,
Ohio? Would that family like air conditioning and running water? Would they
like strip malls, and traffic, and snow? What about working 70 hours a week
(for someone else?) What about our
music (not too much like Dominican—different beat, very different vibe)? Why is
being an American so great?
The answer is simple. Being an American is so great because
it’s what I am. I like Justin Timberlake and Biggie Smalls. I like air
conditioning and showers and drinking the water in the shower and not getting
sick, sick, sick. I like electric lights. I like football and soccer. I love
cheese. And bread. And full-strength beer. Bud-weis-er. I like not trying so
hard to communicate. (More on this
It’s a pretty life that I have. Throwing Sylvia into her
baby pool and watching her laugh and run around and not thinking about much is
really good. I missed my baby and my home. It’s good to be back. I know that I
am spoiled and should be grateful for what I have and not worry about the poor
Dominicans. We will all be just fine. If they want more, that’s on them. If I
want less, that can be accomplished as well.
Vacations are as good for perspective as for relaxation. Please
remind me to take more. I get all wrapped around the axel and forget.
A little Mamajuana to remember. Cheers.
[photo stolen from Angela Carper Lanahan's Facebook page.]
Recipe for Mamajuana
Roots and herbs (buy
in Caribbean or order online):
grown cinnamon whose leaves and twigs are used for flavor, circulation and adds
a little warmth to the mix)
Timacle (In the
Taino language it means brave. It is a vine with big, twisted and gnarled
roots. It is said to work on the ligaments to make one more agile for days. It
is also said to make one energized and able to think more clearly)
Bejuco de Indio (
helps male impotency. It is said to even make the bottom parts of the body feel
like they are vibrating if taken in large doses. It is said to make sweat and
body odor have an essence that makes one seem more attractive, gets the
Bejuco de Costilla
(the bark is also said to give the lower parts of the body extra life and
vibrancy, for some it can make you feel quite warm and toasty)
known as the plain old potato or sarsaparilla is a sexual stimulant)
Bitter Ginger /
Gengiberes Amargo (a root in the ginger family but it is a bit more bitter
and yellower than regular ginger yet it looks about the same. It is used to
repel internal parasites, improves circulation, said to help with arthritis and
may even be able to help with hair growth)
Yname/ true yam
(said to enhance hormones. The inside is eaten in Dominican Republic and
elsewhere like a potato and the
outside is used in mamajuana)
Anamú (bark of
Bohuco (a type of
Brazil, Caro, Marabeli,
Osua, Guyacan, Twigs of Palo Indio, Palo de Maguey and Pega Palo
Stuff herbs/roots into bottle.
Fill 90% of the bottle with dark Dominican rum.
Fill the rest of the bottle with red wine and honey.
Let the bottle sit for at least three days. The longer the
bottle sits, the smoother it will taste.
I just spent the last four days imagining a whole different
kind of life. How to make it work…how to make the leap from one to two, from
none to some, life-death-life, from got-it to don’t-got-it, from job to homemaker and back again, the little swirling loops of our uneasy minds.
I’m so happy I’m bleeding.
What a relief. Just one of many of life’s cruel tricks? Or
maybe it was that Venus planet voodoo messing about in my womb? Glad to be on this side of it anyway. One
week until vacation.
This is my 100th blog post. It's funny that I don't have much to say. I think that's a good thing.
I had some fun this weekend. Some time with my family. Saw some friends, a little music, some dancing, some art...coffee, food, I even watched some tv--shocking, right?
A small amount of peace and a little sunshine goes a long way with me. Work still sucks, but in 10 days I will be on vacation--and that's the fucking best--reading books, swimming, swimming to the swim up bar, sleeping, laughing, eating, dancing. VACATION.
So cheers to 100 blog posts that have run the gambit from dark, depressing, horrid emo purging angsty-bullshit to happy fun little poems about radishes. To another 100 posts and more.
Thanks for reading.
Here's the radish poem in case you missed it:
Radish, you spicy little onion you,
how you make a salad sing
with your peppery bite
hidden under your crimson sling
may you always reign supreme
and be so bold
to stand up to creamy dressings
and lettuce, oh so cold!
you are best sliced thin
smashed into an avocado
on crunchy toast with watercress
standing bold with a pinch of salt
and no bravado
And here's a list of food notes and truths:
- add greens to pasta for a health boost (and to trick your kids into eating them)--leave them in the colander after washing and dump pasta and boiling pasta water over the greens. Greens will cook and already be missed in to the pasta. Add salt and EVOO and a little parmesan and you have an awesome dinner.
- add sliced pre-cooked chicken or turkey sausage to any pasta or rice dish to add some quick protein (and salt and flavor) without a big fuss
- make summertime salads--add tuna (canned) or when grilling make extra meat to add to tomorrows salad. Make a big batch of salad on Sunday eat for lunches and dinners for at least 3 days. Who wants to cook in the summer? Not me.
- make iced tea. I like decaf. Add hot tap water to tea bags in a pitcher. Put in fridge. It makes tea. Lazy people's tea.
- boil or roast beets (from the farmer's market--find the small sweet and multicolored beets--they are dirt cheap and super healthy and flavorful)--to cooked beets add basil, a little balsamic, and some goat cheese crumbles. Salt and pepper. Totally delish and beautiful side dish. Also great for parties. (People think that they hate beets. But they don't. They hate slimy canned beets left over from the 60s.) You can also add carrots and sweet potatoes (especially if you roast them--use EVOO and rosemary.)