Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Poetry Slam Tuesdays: The Way Her Exasperation Eased With the Hair

by Julie Cadwallader-Staub

[via flickr]

Perhaps everyone else has forgotten it,
but in the days when my mother
poured her midsection into a girdle;
when she gathered her nylons into flimsy donuts
before unrolling them, up one leg and then the other;
in the days when we, her daughters,
fastened bulky sanitary napkins
to sanitary napkin belts,
there was Dippity Do.

My mother dabbed the greenish blue gel from the jar,
reached up and slid a section of hair through her fingers,
then wound the hair around a bristly curler,
securing it against her scalp
with a plastic curler pin.

Now, my daughters trap and pull their naturally wavy hair
through the jaws of a straightener
so that their hair might be "as straight as a pin"
which is exactly the way
my mother used to describe her own hair
and, with an sense of tragedy, mine as well.

I don't know who decides whether curly or straight
is the right look for hair
and I can't say that I care,
but what matters to me still

is the way the light changed in my mother's eyes
as her gaze shifted
from her own reflection in the mirror
down to mine;
the way her exasperation eased
with the hair, the Dippity Do, the curlers;
the way the wrinkles over her cheekbones deepened,
and a smile emerged
as if we were co-conspirators,
co-creators, in some grand drama

as I handed her another curler,
another pin.

Monday, May 21, 2012

For Love of the Papasan Chair: The Art of Keeping (and Breaking)Weekend Rituals

Like the crotchety old 28-year-old I am, I tend to relish the comfort and familiarity of certain routines. This morning I woke up and felt kind of funky: I had forgotten to do something yesterday! What was it?

And then I remembered. Yesterday was the first Sunday in a month that I didn't spend some, if not a huge chunk, of the day curled up in my papasan chair with one (or both) of my cats on my lap as I read The Paris Review interviews, or Tess of the D'Urbervilles, or Joyce Carol Oates' journal.

Maybe it's the papasan chair. Maybe it's the way Layla looks at me like this when we snuggle:

But it's okay that we took a break from it yesterday. Instead, I enjoyed another favorite routine: sitting on a patio with a perfectly iced caffeinated beverage, good company, and a new issue of Vogue. And later, some delicious BBQ with friends and a kickass movie.

I think the only things we can conclude from all this is that:

a) I like to read (like, a lot)
b) that Layla is the shit, and
c) I need to watch last night's Mad Men, immediately.

What are your favorite weekend routines?

Friday, May 18, 2012

I Don't Care! (I Love It)

Happy Friday! Let's listen to Swedish pop!

This is my favorite part:

"You're from the 70s, but I'm a 90s BITCH"

Oh, kids today! I'm an 80s B—, myself. But I still wanna party with Icona Pop.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday Mix Tapes: I Love You, It's Cool

I don't think I've mentioned this yet, but I have some new favorite things (other than being sucked into watching Lost on Netflix, but that's a whhhhhooollle other story).

One of my new favorite things is Bon Iver Erotic Stories. I really don't think I need to describe that further. So I won't.

And when I'm not reading Bon Iver erotica, or watching Lost, or writing Groupons, or doing yoga, or trolling around Tumblr, I'm probably doing my other new favorite thing, which is listening to Bear in Heaven. (And the super neat thing about this favorite thing is, I can—gasp—do it at the same time as many of my other new favorite things!)

Their latest album is called "I Love You, It's Cool"—and you know what, I do. And it is cool.

I think you should listen with me. Here's a video:

Don't tell me anything that happens in Lost. I mean it. Don't blow it. I'm really enjoying wasting the end of my 20s watching this show, a decade late. Also, I should probably mention that 98% of the Tumblr pages I enjoy are posts by 16-year-old girls. But they like all the same stuff I do! Pictures of beaches and flowers and animals and yoga poses and pastries!

Something is wrong. I need help.

But don't worry:

I love you, it's cool.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Blood on the Tracks (An Ode to)

Early one mornin', the sun was shinin'.

"We always did feel the same," he told her. "We just saw it from a different point of view."

"Blame it on a simple twist of fate," she replied.

She was married when they first met. He'd seen a lot of women, but she never escaped his mind.

"You're a big girl now," he said.

A change in the weather (is known to be extreme). Buckets of rain, buckets of tears—got all them buckets coming out.

"Come in," she said. "I'll give you shelter from the storm.

I'll do it for you, honey baby, can't you tell?"

"Idiot wind blowing every time you open your mouth," he said.

"You're an idiot, babe," she replied. "You're gonna make me lonesome when you go."

"Meet me in the morning."

Lily was a princess. She'd come away from a broken home; had lots of strange affairs. But she'd never quite met anyone like the Jack of Hearts.

If you see her, say hello. She might be in Tangier.

It's a wonder we can even feed ourselves. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Me and Tess (of the D'Urbervilles): It's Complicated

When I was in high school, my mother kept insisting that I read Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy.

“You’ll love it!” she said. “It’s one of the classics.”

She directed me to the shelf where I’d find the book. “It’s in the study,” she said. Then she pointed me to its exact location. (My mother knew every book in the entire house’s exact location. It was eerie, because the books really never appeared, to me at least, in any particular order.)

I reluctantly got the book off the shelf.

Afterward, the book sat, neglected, in my room.

“Why don’t you want to read it?” Mom kept asking. She seemed hurt about it.

I never had a good answer. Ultimately, the book, like many of her books, ended up on my shelf. I finally started reading it in college about a year after she had died, but I couldn’t finish it—even though I did like it, just like Mom had insisted. I put it back on the shelf, neglected.

Soon after, during the fall semester of my junior year of college, I was required to read another Thomas Hardy book, The Mayor of Casterbridge, for one of my literature classes. I loved it, just as Mom had said I would love Tess.

Now, Tess of the D’Urbervilles rests on my shelf in Chicago, nestled between my paperback copy of The Mayor of Casterbridge and Wuthering Heights. Until today, it hasn’t come off the shelf since I last moved, two years ago. And before that, I only picked it up to move it to another shelf.

I keep moving the book from place to place. Yet other than always receiving a spot on my crowded bookshelf, it remains neglected. In between books, when I scan my shelves for the next read, sometimes my eyes cross over it, and I feel a little pang. (Why don’t you want to read it? I hear in my head.)

When I picked it up today, I flipped through the pages, wondering if there’d be a bookmark in it from my last failed attempt at reading it. As I suspected, there was—on page 220. 220! I only had 150 pages left to go.

Why didn’t I finish it? I’m sure, back when I was reading it, about nine years ago, I’d have come up with plenty of excuses: I had too much to read already, for class; I didn’t have time; I had lost interest.

But today, when I thought about what book I wanted to read next—I just finished re-reading Pride and Prejudice last night, sigh—I thought about Tess.

I think I’m finally ready.

The thing is, the longer I staunchly refused to read—or finish—the book, the longer I could still be that stubborn teenager, refusing to read the book her mom suggested to her. I’ve been scared to read it, because to read it—ridiculous as it may seem—was to admit that I can’t be that stubborn teenager any longer. To read it was to let go, to move forward. How could I finally read it without being able to call her, to hear her delight when I could say, at last, “Mom, I read Tess! I loved it.”

That phone call cannot happen. It still devastates me. But that is the reality. So really, the only thing to do is simple: Just read the book.

In my mind, she will be reading it with me.