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Posts Tagged ‘mother’

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I am in the process of unpacking a box filled with dishes from my old house in Kent, Ohio. The box was packed by my mother in the summer of 2000, before we moved from Kent to Amherst, Mass. We moved mid-August that year. Fifteen years.

I know the dishes were packed by my mom—systematic, careful, each china plate and each china cup wrapped in a plastic bag and, in turn, wrapped in newspaper. The newspaper, before 9/11. Summer 2000. Nobody knows. We are safe in our beds, we are asleep. We dream of our stock portfolios and our trips across oceans. Everything is normal and we are naive, babies. One more year and we’ll be in the shit forever.

But I want to write about the box. Mice. As I get deeper into the box, pulling up the wrapped cups and saucers, I find droppings, shredded paper, acorn tops, seeds: evidence of mice.

The funniest thing to me, the most amazing, is that the mice had gathered up 6 or 7 pieces of a toy brick building kit from the same basement cupboard where the dishes had been stored.

Paul and I bought the brick house kit in Bavaria in 1992, on our honeymoon trip to Europe. We didn’t have kids yet, but knew we wanted a family. We loved the German toys: solid; well-made; beautiful in form, color, and design. The box was wooden with a lid that slid into the bottom, so cleverly designed. The bricks were real and the kit came with mortar that you’d mix to make the structure permanent.

We never made the house out of the bricks, but one of my daughters would sometimes pull out the box and build up the little house as best she could. It was surprisingly more complicated than one would think (it does make a real structure after all) and the instructions were in German. Finally this year, I gave the toy away. Little did I know that several pieces were missing.

How did a little mouse carry a brick into its home? Do they drag these things with their mousey teethessess? These bricks do look as if they could be made into a mouse house, the scale would be appropriate, brick to mouse, bricks to mouse house.

In any case, I don’t like mice nesting in my house. They smell and they are abundant and secretive. They are cute as hell, the mice. I don’t think we have any any more, but when we bought the house, the entire house smelled of old mice nests and for good reason. The former owners apparently never cleaned and weren’t bothered by the old and musty odor emanating from the basement. It being a ranch house, this wasn’t far from kitchen and living quarters. Eww.

Paul pulled out the insulation from the basement rafters way back then and it was full of nests; hundreds of mice, no doubt.

Still, I think mice are amazing and adorable. Over the years, we had mice in spite of the fact that we always had cats (until last year) and yet the mice thrived. Stupid cats.

The words German and brick inevitably make me think of the ovens of the Holocaust. I’m searching for photos on google images and even the little photos of German brick toy kits are too reminiscent of all things German for me.

My German mother and my German blood, my Jewish father and my Jewish blood. The brick ovens. It never stops, does it?

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It’s been a while since I’ve put up a poem. As usual, it’s pretty rough. I like a lot about it and I think I can make it work.

I’m almost done with my manuscript, but struggling to make a couple of poems tighter. AND I HATE writing cover letters. Oh, help!

Vinegar and Sugar
(the German word for please is bitte)

In my mother’s brain,
the area responsible for taste
has interchanged
with the area responsible
for memory

She does not ask me for “Vinegar sugar soup, bitte

But when I make lentils
for dinner,
she slyly opens the pantry door
(as if her desire to have a secret makes her invisible),
takes out the bottle of white vinegar,
and pours it into the soup

Mom, it already has vinegar in it

I like a lot, she says

She moves on to sneak the sugar bowl from the cupboard
and dances teaspoon after teaspoon
into her vinegar soup

All my Oma really wanted to eat
when she reached her 90s
was Schokolade

She stashed it in drawers
and behind books,
wrapped it in cloth and kerchiefs
in her little room
where they put her
with her little window
high up on the hill
at the top of the small
German town where she lived
most of her life
and died her only death

Now my mother
wants only sweet and sour
around her

She forgets
that she hates soup
and soup with beans
and that all they had to eat during the war
was soup
and beans
and her father’s rabbits and rooster

So,
sour or sweet,

who am I to stop her, bitte?

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Happy 79th Birthday to my mom!

As her memory goes, I wonder what I am responsible for. Am I the holder and keeper of her memories and secrets? When can I tell them? What does my brother know? What does she remember? Is what I know true?

I do wish my mother happiness, but it seems an elusive wish. She says she has always been lucky, lucky to have come to the United States and to have found the life she did. But her childhood tells a story, not of luck, but of trauma. I wonder how this fits into her definition of luck; but I will never ask her.

I titled this selfish because I am not using my post today only for a birthday wish for my mother. I don’t really think I’m selfish, because it’s my blog and I want to use it just for that—for myself. But I do feel guilty a tiny bit. I think being a mother, a daughter, a wife, means I always have a tiny lingering guilt. I am sure not all women are like this. I wish I could shake it, but apparently I am not yet evolved to that point. Perhaps this could be my Christmas wish for myself or my New Year’s resolution.

I have snippets of writing lately, nothing coming out whole cloth like I used to have. I know, honestly, most of that needed heavy editing anyway.

What do I wish for? Better poems, more poems, dream poems, publishable poems, poems that will make you swoon, will make you weep, make you laugh, make you buy my books (what books, twinkly? oh, right), fruit poems, frozen bud poems, bloody blue poems, pink poems, feather poems, leaf-and-snow poems, mom poems, wife poems, marriage poems, sex poems, fuck poems, love poems, fucking poems, magical poems, clear poems, anatomical parts poems, important poems, a-political poems, no-more-guns poems, deep poems, no-murky-bits poems. Enough! This kind of thinking is so anti-Alexander Technique that I can hardly continue to allow myself its luxurious indulgence.

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Here are 2 recent poem snippets:

(SNIPPET ONE)

When Shall I Be Delivered

I begged for more from the world

It started inside
a pinprick
where I was once attached

You have not delivered me

With each bout
of bleeding
my density increases
alongside my insatiable hunger

My marrow
pumping erythrocytes
for every drop
that falls

Not much
they always say
a few tablespoons

If men bled
they would find
a more poetic measure
than cups and spoons
(a woman’s place is in the kitchen)

But I know the feeling
of the soldier
draining into the muddy earth
the sand with its greed
taking more than its share
pints and quarts and gallons for drenching

I am ready for the firing squad
or operating theater

I am ready for my uterus
to be yanked out by
its mooring ligaments

No scars
only
a virginal torso
left

I didn’t need you any more
anyway

But thanks
for the ride

(SNIPPET 2)

December 17

My mother is a husk
a Christmas walnut
cracked open

The meat of her
gone

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Happy Thanksgiving to all of my loves!

 

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A recent photo of me on our trip to San Diego. As adorable, sexy, beautiful, and fascinating as I am, I hope you can still tell I’m saying don’t fuck with me.

I will tell you the sordid detail now, why I am bleeding and won’t stop, why I bled last year for 67 days out of 90, why why why and why I didn’t know the full story of my own blood loss.

2 days after my ER visit in January, I had an in-office vaginal ultrasound (hey, buck up readers, did you think I wasn’t gonna mention my vagina?) by none other than the OB/GYN who had me in the stirrups in the ER.

Fast-forward to about 6 weeks ago when I went to the OB/GYN’s office, yet again, due to menstrual flooding (refusing to see the Offending Doctor, of course). When I was in the office talking to yet another doctor, thankfully not in stirrups, what did I find out? That back in January, on that very ultrasound, a 3+ cm fibroid tumor was found at the back of my uterus, embedded in the lining in such a way that I WILL ALWAYS END UP FLOODING WITHOUT CESSATION until I am on the other side of menopause and it goes away or until some hormonal or surgical intervention takes place.

Why my body was able to not bleed for almost 6 months (completely off of progesterone but under the loving care of my acupuncturist), I do not know. But once I started, I haven’t stopped. I’ve been able to cut back the progesterone to a more reasonable and less interfering dose, but I can’t go off of it until I undergo one of 4 options, each of which is fairly traumatic in scope to me.

It took me a while of reeling from the information (appx 3 weeks) that the OB/GYN, the office staff, the nursing staff, the radiology department (does that about cover it?) NEVER told me I have a tumor (fibroids are benign btw) before I could conceive of a plan. I have been under my acupuncturist’s care, but I was not in a place where I trusted the gynecologic practice I was with. The impending week away to California also meant that I had to wait until our return to deal with the fibroid.

I spoke with an MD in the same practice at 5:30 am a few Sundays ago and was very pleased with his attention, information, ability to listen and answer questions, and apparent intelligence. I will be seeing this MD on Monday and I will be discussing a few different options so I can make a decision and get off the progesterone and see what my body does in response to whatever choice I make.

I am scared and tired and sad and I got really sad news about my mother yesterday as well. Her health problems are myriad and long-standing, but she has been in a dramatic memory decline for several months. So, I am dealing with that as well, her only daughter and her primary caretaker.

It’s hard. Harder than I could ever have imagined. And I thought having babies was tough stuff. I don’t remember this part being explained to me. The sandwich years of my generation. Can I get a witness?

someone would like you to believe this is what women look like when they need to use the toilet

this is not what I look like

ever

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