Lourdes Mint's Mid-Life Miracle

Real-time memoir of the coming year (5/20/14 – 15) and the achievement of a life-long dream

Archive for the tag “mortality”

Here’s to doing something tiny, today!

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/tiny/

“One could almost believe that one day is just like another. But some have something a little more. Nothing much. Just a small thing. Tiny.” ~from Little Bird, by Germano Zullo

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A close friend of mine gave me this book when our first potential adoption fell through. On the day the baby was born, we were on our way to the hospital when the social worker called to tell us the parents had changed their minds. We went home and decided we would not renew our home study again. We had renewed twice already and suffered through several disappointments, this last one the worst, and we were done. We had a beautiful family already and weren’t getting any younger, we told the adoption agency. I hit the “reset” button in my life, began this blog (among other things), and rededicated myself to making writing a priority. A little over two months later, and just a few months before our home study expired, Mariel was born and everything changed.

She was so tiny, but we could already see in her, the strong and beautiful little girl she has become. Maybe it doesn’t need to be said, but these last couple of years have not been big writing years for me. We have been very busy here, busy with family and with moving house and all that comes with those things. And I feel like I am only now beginning to dig my way out.

Compared to what I have to do, ALL THESE THINGS I feel I have to do, all I can do today is something tiny. And I’m doing it. It may not be much, but it’s a start … or mainly, rather, a continuation of things started long ago. I think there’s an important difference there.

Continuing is not as fun and fresh and punchy as having A BRAND NEW START because, for one thing, it’s more complicated. I cannot, at almost 50 years old, simply write off all of those things I’ve wanted and pursued over the years. I know a few at least are genuine reflections of my most authentic self, not just my younger or less-experienced self. Continuing now, picking up where I left off, validates my past efforts even if they didn’t lead to tangible achievements. It is messy and murky work, and every little thing I do, even this post, feels tiny compared to where I want to be in relation to my hopes and dreams. But I have to proceed as though I believe, with all my heart, that the tiny things will add up. So here’s to doing something tiny, today!

There is always “burn” here now.

Pretty+Flames+2-7-2007+3-36-23+PM+2816x2112There is always “burn” here now.

Door knobs burn in my hand as I turn them, so I leave the inside ones open. Even the floor burns the bottoms of my feet, so: shoes, but they burn also. These words too, all words, whether I think or say or read them, they all burn now. Sometimes./

To hear them, these ones here, spoken aloud in this room today — w/ no one aside from me listening, no music playing, nothing baking — to hear them without burning, what I would give for that! To be back there, here but back then, in my dream of life again, where it was plenty warm enough, what I would give./

There were times I’d think I must have come from there to here through someplace really cold. I’d think, could I have died that day? That day I “wakened” to the smell of all my pies burning and you knocking as loud as you could on the door. “What’s burning? Are you okay? What’s going on with your hair?”/

We threw the pies into the garden, laughing. You cut my hair in the kitchen to help fix me back up as we aired the place out. “What happened, though? Did you fall asleep? Since when do you bake pies and for what?” I opened you some wine and we spent the rest of the day together./

But I watched the pies slowly disappear alone. It took weeks and then one downpour finally carried the rest away./

Today, I know I came through someplace really cold to get here. Why else, how else, could touching these now — these plastic keys — burn me so? So that the plainest words/thoughts, uttered as plainly as I can manage, are birds barely escaping a flame and then at the very last second returning or just stopping, letting it happen, letting it wrap them and hold them in its hot hands until they turn to ash?/

There is always “burn” here, but I’ve begun to wonder if it might be okay for a time./

After all, crying now is like climbing a tree—but on another planet. Crying: Why? How? It doesn’t happen here, I don’t think, but I’m not completely sure (having learned about evaporation so long ago). I do know it’s not okay not to cry ever./

I know too that today nothing is baking, no music is playing, and no one knocks or doesn’t knock at the door. And I know I didn’t die that day. I am being still and quiet, no more words aloud for now, dreaming of when I was “just warm enough” and wishing I could cry, here or on some other planet, any planet (except Mercury, Venus)./

And yet. Even though these words, my memories, the door, the floor, the bottoms of me feet — ALL of it burns, all of it is burning me — I begin to think it could all turn out all right, that one day I will be just warm enough again.

***

THIS is a repost, thanks. I’ve been gone from here for SIX long months. I consider it a bit of providence that I log back in tonight, after several days (weeks? months?) of thinking about this blog AND THIS POEM especially, and find that BURN is the one-word daily prompt. Today. When I log back in … But so, I have nothing new here now, I don’t think, am exhausted, but I jump back in to this — everything — holding the hand of my 47-year-old self from two years ago. I trust no one more.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/burn/

https://wordpress.com/post/lourdesmint.wordpress.com/678

 

 

If you can read this, online, you’re a minority — but you knew that

Minns Window

Even though more than 80% of the world’s reading-age population can read, less than half are internet users. Now some of these non-users may be babies or Luddites or what have you, but I think it’s safe to say that the feeling of THIS being a way of connecting with the rest of the world is one that many of us don’t share.

Africa represents less than 10% of the world’s internet users, as does N. America, surprisingly —  but that’s because of the enormous population of Africa (as well as of Asia) in comparison to N. America.

In N. America, though, about 9 of 10 of the pop are internet users versus about 3 of 10 in Africa, 4 of 10 in Asia, 5 of 10 in Middle Eastern and Latin American/Caribbean countries, and 7 of 10  in other western/European countries.

What are all of those offline others doing? Well, I guess they are living life, as we are, watching the weather, loving their babies, talking with friends about the future, helping one another through crises, etc. But how do they know whether they’re funny, clever, talented … or how many friends (or followers) they have? What/whom do they turn to for definitive answers to some of life’s most pressing questions or even the basic day-to-day conundrums? Where do they find out what’s worth reading … or even what they really want, think, and believe? How do they know who they truly are or which boots are best bets for this winter? How can they be sure they’re getting the sweetest deal on their hotel room for summer vacation?

At the end of the day, maybe the answers to all or most of these questions, for those seeking them in whatever manner, are essentially the same — in terms of the range of their validity. There’s so much we can never be sure of, so many questions with no simple answers. But what a bang-up job the internet does of helping us to forget (or at least buffering us from) the fundamental uncertainties of life! How many times have I come here feeling tired, hungry, and poor and left feeling better — that I know more, that I belong after all, and that I need not flail about or mess around with […] a moment longer. (I’ve had the opposite experience also, plenty, but that’s not important now.) TV works too, as does reading books or dancing like a wild thing all night long, and pretty much anything else that helps you escape the gray area between your ears for a while, but the internet works BEST — I think — for many of us. And that’s because it seems to say, so consistently and convincingly, in so, so, soooooo many words (and pictures and videos too), “Good news! Uncertainty is over! Everything you seek, wonder about, or need to know is HERE!” —  for almost half of us anyway. And it’s good to get a break from the gray. Very good.

What do those others do?

Later/this morning: I woke with this post still in my head. I went to sleep last night feeling that I didn’t totally know what my point was here, but I decided to post it anyway. The rules of my blog seem to change along with my “is-it-ready-to-post?” criteria (playing games with our seven-year-old, just living with him and “the baby” [now an 18-month-old], just living — all have softened [I’ll just say] whatever rigidity [I’ll just say] I had in such areas).

But anyway, here I am, and back to that final line: What do the others do? An answer is that, same as in the online world, some find other good ways of escaping the gray, some are naturally inclined or learn to “sit with” it (to let it be), and others are very adept at sorting that gray into black or white, yes or no, stop or go, right or wrong, etc. — others EVERYWHERE, including in that parallel [?] offline universe where different stories are spun from the information that’s most accessible, spun and shared, taking hold. But what is my point? Maybe I don’t know/understand enough about the world to make it, but I think it’s something like this: that if you are reading this, anything, online, you are privileged in a way that most of the world is not AND that none of us truly has exactly what we think we have or can truly have what we’d like to have (not security, certainty, inviolable protection of our basic rights, a bond with the rest of humanity, etc.) until we all have a shot at having it.

You, Carbon

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You, carbon, 
I understand what you are to me and this dog, licking a mysterious spot on the rug — and probably to the spot, too.

I know what you are to that pair of stink bugs, each seeming to pause in its path to make way for the other, and to

The vivacious algae, grooving full-tilt on the inside of the fish tank.

I know what you are to the fish.

I know what you are to vegans and cows, to moss and paper, to

Muslims and to flowers, fresh or dried … also to

Kentucky women and stunt men, hand models, leather belts,

Republicans, nuts, mathematicians and trapeze artists, run-away elephants, chocolates,

Babies of all species, natural fibers, gamers and monks, shells, dirt, Etsy shop owners, “happy creatures dancing on the lawn,”

People who know they’re dying soon, downed trees filled with munching grubs, nurse practitioners (God bless ’em), and

Maybe even aliens (from outer space).

I know.

It was back in the pitted, confused, brain-sweltering days of much younger years when I first learned — from the soggy pages of an Omni (or similar) magazine that I’d taken into the tub with me, as I often did. I craved information that seemed to stretch time out so far and wide that my life, all life, became a dot and all meaning disappeared.

That you — in your simplest, most basic, dark and un-shining form — were at the bottom of it all made me feel better. YES, knowing that we’d all whipped ourselves up from the flat, black palm of your four-fingered hand, this made me feel better. And better was best, then.

But since then, better has me agreeing to “follow up” visits with Mormon boys on bikes, has me talking so long to homeless people they beg my pardon (have somewhere to be), has me listening and watching (waiting?) for something — I’m not sure what. I settle for cake. Then I make a list I will never look at again. I think of you, sometimes.

But I no longer try to meet, let alone hold, your opaque, sooty gaze. I want to see past, to who you’re working with.

The Question Is Disappearing. (Or: The Garden Orb)

Here’s a story for the Daily Prompt: Doubters Alert — “What commonly accepted truth (or “truth”) do you think is wrong, or at least seriously doubt?” @ https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/doubters-alert/Why?

My straight response comes afterward, if you’re interested.

***

“That’s not a hobo spider. It’s a garden orb. See here.” She passes him her device, the screen of which clearly shows the characteristic stripe of the harmless creature now squashed in the bottom of their tub. He pretends to look and nods, but he already knows, like almost anyone would, could.

“Hmm.” He says. He rubs his eyes, red from lack of sleep. The new baby cries in the next room. “So…”

“So, you killed it for no reason.”71dcMndpBgL._SL1500_

“I panicked,” he says quietly as she scratches vigorously at her upper arms. She’s been doing this since the birth. He chalks it up to postpartum hormone fluctuations, which he knows all about.

As he turns away, he makes a mental note anyway to look it up: postpartum + eczema, postpartum + scratching/itching, postpartum + tics, etc. She bends with noisy effort to collect the little pulpy mess with a square of toilet paper. “You panicked.”

She’s tossing the spider into the toilet, he thinks as he heads down the hall toward the baby’s room, and she’ll let it mellow with the yellow rather than flush it. One flush, even from their H2No toilet, uses more than a gallon of water. He knows. She knows. Everyone they know knows.

“Panicked!” she says louder, just now (perhaps) realizing that he’s left the room. Well, there are things one can do for that, you know. One doesn’t need to suffer that nonsense unless he chooses to!”

I know, I know, I know. We all know. You probably know already, too, were born knowing –— he thinks, looking at the baby before he gently lifts her into his arms. The baby’s eyes are clamped shut as she wails on, but there are no tears yet. That happens later. The crying is upsetting, of course, but less so if you understand that it’s normal. He finds it upsetting anyway, could not sleep, panicked. He’s very tired. Everyone’s tired. And all of this is normal.

He hears the toilet flush after all and then the still-pregnant-sounding footsteps of his wife as she approaches. “Or instead of getting help for your panic disorder, maybe you could try leaches or something, you know, to suck the bad blood out. But then again, it could be a demon. Too bad Father Cohee’s still in jail.”

Father Cohee has been dead for five years … she must know that, he thought. She’s exhausted.

Now, she is standing in the nursery door way, puffy-faced and drawn-looking at the same time. He hates it when she gets like this and this is worse than usual, but again and most important: he’s not surprised. He’s been expecting this. “You should try to sleep,” he says.

“I knew you were going to say that.” She attempts to tighten the draw string on her knit top, but her boobs, big and heavy as sacks of flour, get in the way. She starts to cry.

He blinks at her slowly, sensing something shifting, murky out of the corner of his eye. He turns to face the baby and begins to hum to her. His wife stomps off and slams a door. I would too, he thinks. I’m a shit.

In bed later, his wife turns to him and says, “‘The Old Gray Goose Is Dead.’ I searched and found a match for the tune you were humming. It was familiar, but I couldn’t place it. Please tell me you can come up with more suitable material for a lullaby.”

“I can.” Anyone can. “Good night.”

Sleep comes quickly and ends abruptly, with no dreams in between. The baby wakes at 11:00 p.m., 2:30 a.m., and 5:45 a.m. This goes on for a couple of weeks before a new pattern develops. All normal. All to be expected. There’s plenty of crying, there are harsh words, and there apologies. But there’s also joy (or some feeling he doesn’t really attempt to identify or even describe; he believes his wife feels it too) — moments the three of them share that seem gilded, brilliant with significance, before they’ve even passed. Again though, certainly all of it this is well-charted territory for new parents. (Except, except, except!)

Except for that weighty, winged thing fluttering about in the shadows of his peripheral vision.

Yes, except for that. No, he’s not sure what it is. He doesn’t know how to find out more about it. He’s not sure whether he should or can do anything in response. But he is sure he doesn’t want to panic — not now, especially.

When he was a child, he remembers now, he’d ask his mother so many questions (“Does God live in the The White House?” “What happens if you fall into lava?” “Where did the first seed come from?” “Why does Dad work at night now, too? Who goes to the dentist at night?” [She had a quick answer for that one: “Vampires, that’s who.”]) and usually — if she didn’t know the answer (and sometimes even when she did, probably) — she’d do just as most parents then believed good parents should: admit it and suggest going to find the answer together.

“Hmmm,” she’d say. “That’s a good question, but to tell you the truth, I have no idea. Let’s see if we can figure it out.” And they’d go straight to her laptop. Usually, they’d end up watching YouTube, funny clips or music videos that were popular when she was growing up … and, finally, they’d check out her Facebook page. He remembered often waking up in the middle of the night — either on the couch, his head on her lap, the laptop “sleeping” on the next cushion over, or in his father’s arms, being carried up to bed. The next day, he’d try to recall whether or not they’d found an answer to his question, not because he cared that much anymore but more “on principle” — he told himself then. He doesn’t remember that last detail now.

Tonight, the baby cries at a new time: 4:40 a.m. It’s his turn, he knows, and the pumped milk is ready and waiting in the fridge. He looks straight ahead, keeps his eye on the prize, passes another garden orb on the way: first the steps, then the fridge, next the bottle, now the baby, and finally the bottle + the baby. Ahhh, “there we go.” The crying stops.

She has real tears now, right on schedule, and once he brushes them away, he and she will stare into each other’s eyes until the bottle is finished — a great antidote, he’s found, to the dark, flapping thing. Then, sleep can begin again.

***

We give a lot of lip service to the importance of questions, questioning, curiosity, etc., to the superiority even of questions over answers, BUT our institutional, cultural, and personal practices seem to suggest otherwise: we are as afraid of “not knowing” as ever, speeding toward “certainty” on as many fronts as possible — some of us begrudging the believers their beliefs, others calling the scientists out on the seeming inconsistencies or contradictions in their conclusions. It is good to know, even when knowing = trouble, complications, or worse yet more questions. I think that maybe the only thing as irresistible as having the answers (at the risk of sounding sappy) is love (and with it, the fear of losing love), which puts the pedal to the metal in our drive to know.

 

 

Your “plans” will never go as planned if …

Your “plans” will never go as planned if you make no plans. I really don’t like TOO MUCH of this kind of talk, coming out of my mouth or going into my ears, buzzing around in my mind, but today it fits. This week, this month, this year — I could go on — it FITS! Although it’s not really that I had no plans as much, I think, as that I might not have shared them best with the people who needed to know them most …

But I don’t want to hear, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” I don’t want to hear about the importance of spontaneity, etc. I have a PhD in that. Yes, I’m all for spontaneity, but to go well, even it benefits from a plan — in fact, I don’t think it can’t truly exist in the absence of a good plan. Without one to derail or to bust yourself out of, what is spontaneity really except doing something you feel like doing pretty close to the time you first thought of doing it? (No big deal.)

And how about free-wheeling? Love IT. (If my doctorate was in Spontaneity, my dissertation was on Free-wheeling.) But there too: you’ve gotta have that wheel in order to pull it off. And historically there’s not much that’s a bigger deal than the wheel when it comes to forward motion, progress, etc. At this very moment, I can’t think of a single thing. But maybe that’s because of where I am today, this week, this month, this year.

Anyway, look at this splendid young woman. I’ll bet she has herself a plan. Wheels too!

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Found on inked-dollz.blogspot.jp

STAY

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Forever Young.”

(Death is the dark backing that a mirror needs if we are to see anything. ~ Saul Bellow)

My, oh my, my love … about these depressions in our mattress, which can

Only be flipped and turned so many times before they stop bouncing back,

Let’s not think, so THAT is what we’ve done with one-third of our lives!?

By that time (this?), I hope we can say: well, OK, we need(ed) that for this, these, the

Other two-thirds, which — however long they may last beyond this point —

Must be able to push forth, astride those nights that do end;

Hurdle endings that don’t end: the endings of pets, people, people we love;

Let go of  things that won’t/can’t be found again, no matter how ORGANIZED we are or

How faithfully we retrace our steps, how much we care or try or want; and, AND, and

Get used to the feeling of Nature’s waning interest in us, looking through us now to

Its more current projects, just as it becomes more beautiful in our eyes.photo (2)

(How many times have I photographed the moon just this past year? The DAGGONE moon! Like it hasn’t been here all this effing time, hanging around, doing its thing while I did mine. But now, each time, with every shot, I felt/feel a word placed and then burn under my tongue: STAY! [That’s the word.] I can never tell where the word’s come from nor who it’s for. Me? The moon? Us both? Who can say [?] so I let it stay, the word beneath my tongue, until one day I look for it and find it’s slipped away again.)

I do know, though, all things do finally go, are gone, and that is that — for now, at least.

But that’s what makes life precious and meaningful. Yes, that’s just exactly how the whole thing works.

Anyway. NOW THAT THAT’S OUT OF THE WAY,  to answer the question: HECK, YES! I would GULP those

Fountain-of-youth waters down, just before diving in and spending the better part of the day(s) floating — never, ever sleeping —

On my back, this back here (!), which is presently further debouncing our mattress. But, YES!

I would drink. I would make you drink, too.

(A mirror needs a dark backing if we are to see our reflection, which is always good to check out before having your photo taken, going out to dinner, etc. ~ Lourdes Mint)

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