Thursday, March 28, 2019

Found it!

I found it!

I found a whole ton of things! Lost things are popping up all over! I am on an incredible roll!

When too many things need to be found, the frustration eventually erupts into a war on crap de-cluttering. So I went to my art desk, saw an old, unfinished project I wasn’t interested in any more, and picked up the papers to recycle. Guess what was underneath?

The broken piece of the glass mobile! And I still had the glue and the broken mobile. All required pieces accounted for! Hooray!
So that freed me to stroll down another mental tangent. When Sophie graduated from high school and had her senior picture taken, I showed her mine. It was startling how much we looked alike (and I’ve always felt she looked exclusively like her father). So recently I came across my mother’s graduation photo, and I thought I’d line them up next to each other.

You know what that means: I have to have three things in the same place at the same time. That’s a challenge. First, I had to find my high school photo. I pulled out the carton of saved memories (yes, the same one that housed my Tab Hunter novel that my mother did not throw away).

Sitting right on top was the marionette! The marionette without shoes. And I still had the shoe. A shoe. (I actually believe one was thrown out many years ago in one of the earlier iterations of this recurring lost-and-found story.) So I put the shoe in the bag with Yvette, the Marionette, and they will lie there together, resisting de-cluttering. At least, when they go, they’ll go together – minus one shoe.

But still no senior class photo.

This saga requires another mental tangent. Two weeks ago, out of the blue, I heard from Jim, a former freshman when I was an R.A. in his dorm. We hadn’t crossed paths in forty years, but he’d discovered that Sophie and his son had shared the same freshman dorm.

A few years ago, when Jim’s class of freshmen were having a reunion, I wanted to send them the posters I had made to welcome them to college. I’d arranged all their senior pictures in a floor plan I made of the dorm, roommates with roommates. But, of course, I couldn’t find the posters….

So here I am now, looking for my own senior picture. Under the Tab Hunter carton, I discover another carton. I open it up, and right on top are the dorm posters! Jim won’t have another reunion for three years, but I’m putting the posters in the mail today. I can’t be trusted to find them again three years from now.

Eventually, in that carton, I find my senior photo. Whew! Then I have to find Sophie’s, but that should be easy. Well, not quite. She tells me over the phone that I’d picked the wrong one, she describes another photo. I’m very confused, but I have a photo that will work (although not as dramatically as I remember). This is us:

Distracted now by this box, I find all sorts of stuff. One of them is a newspaper clipping from 1972 from the local newspaper in my hometown, The Long-Islander. My high school social studies teacher, Mrs. Angela P. Ryan, had edited a book and noted she was inspired by my graduation speech, which she quoted. I remember trying once to find the book on Interlibrary Loan, and I remember trying to find her; but I never had any luck. I decided to try again.

This time, the Internet yielded a home address, and I’ve written her a letter.

If my luck holds – and some amazing alignment of the stars is putting things in their places in my universe – then I may find Mrs. Ryan, too.

A broken piece of glass, a shoe-less marionette, an old dormitory poster, a senior class photo, and an address – together, they feel like a triumphant victory of Order over Chaos. What was lost is found, what was broken is restored, what was forgotten is remembered. Now – in this very moment – my world feels so stable and organized and meant-to-be; I must be in my right spot, too.

Friday, March 22, 2019

An In-Home Treasure Hunt

A long time ago, I built a marionette. She hung out in a plastic bag in some not-yet-de-cluttered box, but she lost a shoe. Every now and then, the shoe would turn up, but then I wouldn’t remember which box held the marionette. Thinking they were fated never to manifest at the same time, I finally threw the shoe out. Then, during my recent de-cluttering binge in the laundry room, I know I considered tossing the marionette. I looked her in the eye and evaluated whether she gave me joy. But did I throw her out? That is the question because – you guessed it – a shoe has turned up!

When de-cluttering runs up against memory lapse, it’s unclear whether something is really gone or I-just-can’t-remember-where-I-put-it. I am sure the marionette will turn up as soon as I lose contact with the shoe.

A few years ago, my sister and I took a road trip to Corning, New York, where I made this glass mobile. Except that it doesn’t really look like that because as I was hanging it, I crashed into the window and broke the third glass strip.

I put the broken piece aside, awaiting repair.

Do you have things “awaiting repair”? Do you have a set location for items in limbo? I do not. The broken piece sat on the lamp stand for a year or so.

But then I moved it to a safer location because I knew I would repair it eventually.

I have no idea where that safer location is.

It’s all rather timely because last August, when my sisters and I went on a road trip, we encountered a glass artist. I talked with her about repairing my mobile, and she gave me a tube of E6000 to use. Of course, now I have to re-find the broken piece.

I have checked out all my secret stash locations, my pending piles, my do-something-with-it-someday spots. I checked the little decorative boxes that sit on the dresser. No luck. I can’t find the broken piece anywhere.

But then I discovered another decorative box downstairs – my raven box – hidden in what I guess is now a really secret spot.
When I opened that box, I discovered my chunk of the Berlin Wall and the scrap of Christo’s wrapping of the Reichstag from my sister! Yes, the very same items I’d assumed were inside the little, decorative, heart-shaped, wooden box upstairs when it was stolen two years ago and which I wrote about here!

Why do I feel like my house is a scavenger hunt venue? Or some escape room with elusive clues? Why do things-that-go-together (broken piece and glue, marionette and shoe) go their separate ways in my house? And you’re probably wondering, What’s with all the little boxes and hiding spots?

Note: they do not start out to be hidden. It’s just that in my world, everything has an assigned place; fabric goes in the fabric place, art supplies in the art area, books on the bookshelf. But when something is not easily categorized, it doesn’t own a designated home. Where would a chunk of Berlin Wall, a broken glass piece, and a marionette shoe belong?

Anyhow, despite all this treasure hunting in my house, there are now two things I don’t know:
  1. What was in the little heart-shaped wooden box that was stolen two years ago? (I’m guessing it was rocks. Rocks belong in my fancy boxes. Jewelry belongs in old, rumpled plastic bags tossed somewhere else. Personal priorities.)
  2. The Big, Still-Unanswered Question: Where is the broken glass piece from the mobile???

Saturday, March 16, 2019

What's your 'resting face'?

My writing pipeline got clogged.

I’d written a piece for Valentine’s Day, and I balked at posting it. I was saying nice things about Tim, about Third Third revelations and appreciation of marriage; and it just seemed so … smug. Even though I admitted to “explosions, terrible ‘discussions,’ voiced regrets, shouted furies, quiet hopelessness,” it just seemed so … self-congratulatory. Like, hooray, we’ve made it!

But then I felt bad about putting aside a post that was so nice to my husband (since “nice” is not an adjective I really own); so I just … ran aground. That stalled post was blocking all alternative and future posts.

Combine that with winning a free two-month trial of Team Training at my athletic club and my discovering how utterly exhausting fitness can be. Basically, I ran around the room zipping through exercises that involved things like kettle balls and medicine balls and sliders for my feet. And big long ropes and elastic stretchy things and hanging from the ceiling. Not to mention jumping up and down and squatting for interminable periods of time. After all that, swimming a mile seemed like a rest day.

I was comatose by 7, asleep by 9.

We’d been on vacation and saw relatives, alligators, and manatees. In Epcot Center, in record-breaking rain, Sophie and I were on Spaceship Earth and somewhere along the line, they took photos of us. Afterwards, cartoon characters showed up in a video with our faces. Sophie’s face was pleasant and smiling. Mine was scowling.

“How’d you do that? Did you know when they were taking our photo? How come mine is so grumpy?”

“I just have a better resting face.”

“Resting face? Who ever heard of a resting face? Do people have resting faces?!?”

Well, I guess they do. And what I thought illustrated curiosity on my face actually looks like confusion if you’re generous and pissed-off if you’re accurate.

So then I had to practice a better resting face. Which is impossible while hauling kettle balls and medicine balls and pushing up. Or just sitting around fretting about that bit-of-love blocking my blog.

Someday, I’ll tell you about the valentines my husband has hidden around the house for me for thirty years, but right now, I’m just going to borrow a little quote from one of my favorite authors, David Grossman. In Someone to Run With, he describes the rotten underworld of the city, but then the wise woman of the novel, Leah, says this:
“You need a man with a big hand,” Leah pronounced. “You know why?” 

“Why?” She knew she would now be painted a picture. 

“Someone who will stand with his hand up, open, strong, steady – like the Statue of Liberty, but without that ice-cream cone she’s holding – only his hand, open, in the air. And then” – Leah raised her square, rough, nail-bitten hand and moved it gently from side to side, like a flying bird – “even from far away, from any place in the world, you’d see that hand and know you had a place to land and rest.”
That is my husband’s hand. And when I think on it, my resting face smiles.

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