In search of story


February 9.23: Coping, but barely

The speed limit here in a school zone is 25.

Flashback: the grade school I attended was brand new when I started first grade in 1949. Three classrooms, six grades, with room left over. We were on the cusp of the baby boom in a sprawling little farming community not far from Chicago. The area behind the school was our playground; there were swings, a slide, teeter-totters, all apparently excavated from some Roman ruins. But who cared? The main playground was an oak grove. Oh, it was splendid! We had acorns, and shade, and leaves in our shoes, hair, and stuck to our sweaters. And a white-headed, freckled nimble imp named Larry stood on his head there.

Then the babies boomed and the school boomed and one of the saddest days in my young life was the loss of that oak grove.

Yesterday, content at 25 mph, I puttered past one of our schools at recess. The playground is equipped wondrously, but some of the kids found something better: a gentle ravine, either a happy accident or a brilliant idea. Hills! Kids know what to do with hills, and there they were, rolling down at top speed, looking like so many bratwurst in winter coats perfectly formed for the occupation. Even in my car, I could feel the fun.

25 mph was too fast.



Disconnections: October 1.18

As you know, dear reader, I am in the process of down-sizing. And process it is. I still have things in a storage unit, and I’m here to tell you that “out of sight, out of mind” does not apply: those things jabber at me all the time, yelling across town “We’re still here, you know!”

Sorting through life’s accumulation requires thinking, contemplating, reflecting, and — the biggest obstacle of all — remembering. One cannot just pick up a box and heave it into the garbage — it might have an old birthday card in it! And heaven forbid I throw out a Tiny Tears dress I’d intended to keep forever!

For me, what greases this slow-grinding process is anger. When I get angry, I can see so clearly what I don’t need! I can see how junk is weighing me down, and out with it!

The last few weeks have brought — for me — the climax of a long wind-up of anger and grief and resentment and depression and disbelief and despair and frustration and disgust, as I try to understand what has made children and women such disposable commodities. My struggles culminated in a free-for-all of unloading. And thus did I fill my car on the weekend for our community recycling day, and thus did I heap my own recycling bin to overflowing.

An inadequate catharsis, perhaps, but at least a constructive one. At the rate things are going, all my belongings will soon fit in a thimble.



Connections: January 20.17

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAWhen the world is too much with us

and we need a Shangri-la

it’s time to get away

to the holistic basement spa.

With Tonka therapy

and sump pump ambiance

the clientele is served

with flair and flamboyance.

Sometimes they can’t keep up

I’m very sorry to say

I cannot get you in

they’re overbooked today.

With apologies to Wordsworth.