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the museum of everything

Eventually there's only a riddle, the old one about the ax— its head and handle replaced a thousand times. Are you steel, once sharp, now dull? Or are you the thing it splits? Are you the swinging or the replacing? What is the trigger and what is the tragedy? What is the doctor visit and what is the disease? Is the fourth baby you almost adopt an echo of the first three or of the two you never birthed, who would be ten and a half now, but who is counting? Every sad thing deserves its own museum, but every museum has the same glass case, the same new paint smell, the same paper towel vendor Did 13 people die in a mass shooting or were there 13 mass shootings last year or last weekend? Eventually your body becomes a museum of everything that happened and everything that didn't: the sturdy handle of your spine the ghosts of your ovaries the holes filled the way the ocean consumes volcanoes with flat glittering blue Eventually there are no more words or there are only words, it'

the identified patient

  The Identified Patient Is crying again Is talking too much Made it all about her Brought up the thing we agreed not to talk about Is letting her child watch YouTube again Is letting him see her tired face, shiny with tears Sent a bitter text and drafted a worse one Ate all the Cheez-Its and drank your Coke Is not over it Is moving on too quickly Is not taking a break Is not asking the pregnant woman about her due date Does not want to be at this party, and it shows Did not keep your work deadlines in mind Is not getting the right kind of therapy Is too much like your mother and her own father Blogged about it Got fat Worried and worried and worried Flew too close to the sun Hates fun Wasted years Is obsessed with productivity Acts like no one suffers but her Nags too much and not enough Can’t win Uses annoying phrases like “I can’t win” Doesn’t see how much she’s won Is steeped in guilt like water becoming the blackest tea Is sorry Apologizes too much Wants her child and someone else

other's day

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"Go big or go home" is a phrase befitting reality shows more than reality. (Prototyping innovations on a small scale and growing gradually usually works better.) But when it comes to adoption, it's fair to say that this year we went big. We signed on with as many attorneys and agencies as we could afford. We had three matches with expectant moms, none of which led to an adoption.  The last disruption, less than two weeks ago, took us to Reno for three days (more about that at some point). And then we went home. Since our disruption in the fall , we've been working toward becoming a licensed resource family in the foster care system. In addition to a hell of a lot of paper work, it's meant asking myself what it will look like to parent a child I probably won't get to keep. It's meant leaning into being Trauma-Informed, a Helpful Member Of My Community, and a bit of a Badass (resource parents: I think of you as badasses). It's meant leaning away from my

the berlin zoo

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The zookeeper’s bathroom becomes a nest: dirt and twigs from sink to toilet, the bathtub a makeshift pond. The shoebill is part cartoon: beady eyes and a loafer for a beak. The zookeeper’s wife becomes a zookeeper, dropping a slice of stale bread into the bird’s smile.  The zoo tower becomes lookout and barricade. A black gun as long as three men points at the sky, reminding airplanes that they are not birds, or that they are: as easy to down as a duck. The ears of giraffes and antelopes, built to hear lion paws on leaves, hold the sounds of bombs and flak guns. Their bodies tell them to run, but the cage bars say otherwise.  Two hippos, a black rhino, a sea elephant, and eight land elephants become meat. People who thought the worst part of their job would be sweeping shit now eat their charges. Now there is more waste than ever to shovel. Now there are not enough dust pans in the world. Now the world becomes a dust pan. Now they must admit: tenderized crocodile tails taste like fatty

tops of 2021

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I recently learned that the original lyrics to "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" were "Someday soon we all will be together, if the fates allow. Until then we'll have to muddle through somehow," not "...hang a shining star upon the highest bough." I'd heard both, but I sort of thought they were different verses of the same version. Apparently the latter replaced the version in Meet Me in St. Louis, which I remember as a bittersweet, kind of weird movie.  Then I read this article  and found out the first draft of the song was "Have yourself a merry little Christmas. It may be your last."  Muddling through suddenly seems appealing, and I did plenty of it this year. Things were not too shabby—vaccine, book contract, schools reopening, summer road trip, a hummingbird outside our window —until August, when the adoption roller coaster chugged anxiously uphill, then plummeted down, and at times I felt like I'd flown off the tracks en

this is how it works

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If you think about the game , you've already lost. That's the whole game. You might approach someone, perhaps at a party— perhaps there is brandied eggnog, or maybe it's a cooler full of beer, juice boxes for the kids, in celebration of the end of soccer season, or a savior's birth, or the strong possibility that soon the days will get longer. You would say, "You've lost the game," and it would be true because now you've passed the torch of consciousness like a virus to the person closest to you. There's no winning the game. It was invented by the British, of course. Land of fog  and consumptive moors, land farmed to the bone.  Maybe this resignation  is what happens after you conquer a continent or two, leverage a famine to your advantage, make the locals bring you tea. And still it tastes bitter, and still your wife finds you a bit disgusting  and your children grow up and write books about the terrible things you've done leveraging that educ

ode to the end of peach season

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1. The peaches this summer were inexplicably good. The ones from Trader Joe's, I mean. Trader Joe's —known for all those plastic clamshells and sad hard oranges. But there they were, better than we deserved: ombre globes the size of tennis balls, the big soft ones that our son keeps hitting over the fence. Run-down-your-chin juicy, though I always cut them up, because why ruin something exquisite with a sticky face?  I tried to eat them all. I did. I bought them in cardboard pallets and by the bag. Accuse me of all the contemporary sins: working too much, planning and fretting, checking pandemic stats like the weather. Bending my head toward my phone until my spine is a floor lamp, an inverted J. Despairing because we might not, in fact, upgrade our wonderful lives to extra wonderful in the space of a month.  But who is here, like a motherfucking Zen master, enjoying seasonal fruit? Photo by Vlad Deep on Unsplash And now it's almost gone. Now pears are populating the shelv