Tag Archives: reading

muliebrity


muliebrity n. womanly qualities; womanhood

 

 

Muliebrity

by Sujata Bhatt

I have thought so much about the girl

who gathered cow-dung in a wide, round basket

along the main road passing by our house

and the Radhavallabh temple in Maninagar.

I have thought so much about the way she                                             5

moved her hands and her waist

and the smell of cow-dung and road-dust and wet canna lilies,

the smell of monkey breath and freshly washed clothes

and the dust from crows’ wings which smells different –

and again the smell of cow-dung as the girl scoops                             10

it up, all these smells surrounding me separately

and simultaneously – I have thought so much

but have been unwilling to use her for a metaphor,

for a nice image – but most of all unwilling

to forget her or to explain to anyone the greatness                                15

and the power glistening through her cheekbones

each time she found a particularly promising

mound of dung –

Many times when I begin these posts I will use a Google search to get myself motivated or to generate some ideas. I had never read this poet before today, but I can say that this poem captures the full meaning of the word. When I chose the word, I started thinking about what makes a woman “womanly” – outside of physical appearances and the ability to bear children. Is there a grace that women possess simply because they are just women? What exactly makes a woman “womanly”?

 There is a huge difference between being pretty, pink and girly and being womanly – and it has nothing to do with body weight. I find it interesting that our society labels clothing for females above a size 12 a woman – and everything under her as juniors or misses. As if having a larger ass means you are more mature and matronly. However, it raises an interesting point about the relationship between female anatomy and this idea of womanhood. Larger breasts and hips used to be what defined beauty. A young lady was deemed a woman once she passed out of puberty and developed the trademarks of her sex. Even until the 1950’s, “t & a” were essential to being considered the height of womanly beauty. Today there is no doubting that the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren were women – not girls. I’m not going to make the analogy to our current societal predilections of beauty – you already know what there is to say about that. I just think it’s a little sad that the feminist movement is most likely to blame for this drastic change.

I drive around with my son a lot and I see these bumper stickers everywhere that say “Save the Tatas.” I know breast cancer is a devastating disease and one that I might have to face in my lifetime if statistics say anything, but these bumper stickers offend me. It’s like having a bumper sticker on my car for testicular cancer that says “Save the Sacks” or “Don’t Bust My Balls.” I doubt the man with testicular cancer would find it funny. It’s not that I think that breasts have super powers, but God did give them to only women so we should probably honor them. We have Playboy, the plastic surgery industry and Victoria’s Secret to exploit them already. Can we please not degrade them further by calling them “tatas” on the same vehicles we shuttle around the future of women of America in?

There is something more to womanhood than boobs, though. A certain grace  (regardless of how clumsy they are) that women possess in their movements, actions and auras. Maybe it’s in our eyes or the sway of our walk or the fact that we can give birth to a child. I’m not quite sure there’s any way to pin exactly what it is down, and I think that it’s better that way. We need to keep it secret so no one exploits it and gives it a goofy name.

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absquatulate


absquatulate v. leave abruptly

This sounds more like an exercise move than a verb that means to leave abruptly. It could be a combination ab -slash – squat – slash Pilates move. I think I should develop a new workout with this move – like Zumba – but more sophisticated, with less ass shaking. Instead of Latin dance moves perhaps we could incorporate hip hop or Bollywood. Maybe I should use pan flute music…anything new age would work too.

People talk about the lack of innovation in our society, but there is quite a lot of innovation going on in the world of exercise. Take Zumba, for instance. I purchased the Wii version to do at home and it’s pretty bazaar. If you have a tight ass and abs, of course you look awesome doing it…but if your 34 and you had a kid – it ain’t pretty. The game comes with a belt that holds the controller and tracks your moves so that the console can tell if you are hitting the marks. So on top of feeling like a fat ass secretly working out to a Zumba video game in your family room, you get to wear a remote control fanny pack. Sigh.

Then there is the Shake Weight, which I do not own but have seen. There’s nothing further to say other than it’s obscene and looks as if you are practicing something I choose not to write about on this blog. There are also many ab muscle electric pulse belts that you can wear during the day to tone your abs – even if they’re buried under a layer of flab.

Then there are the encyclopedic DVD collections like P90X and Insanity that are designed to endanger your well being in your own home. Many of these transformative collections use something called “muscle confusion” to tone even the smallest muscles. To be fair, I have never tried one of these, but the names alone scare the shit out of me. I don’t want to confuse my muscles. Can we figure out how to confuse my fat so it thinks it’s muscle?

There should really be a Hall of Fame for icons of the exercise genre. We need to honor Richard Simmons, Jane Fonda, Denise Austin, Jake, the scary Tai Bo guy, Susan Powter…and of course, John Basedow, who may or may not be moonlighting as Paul Ryan…there was that whole P90X reference…just saying…

 

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mealy mouthed


mealy mouthed adj. reluctant to speak frankly

Scarlett O’Hara versus Melanie Hamilton – Gone with the Wind….best illustration of this adjective.

Back in the Civil War South, the reluctance to speak frankly came with a certain type of grace – case in point Melanie Hamilton. Scarlett was the proverbial “bull in the china closet” while Melanie had a quiet and graceful piety. They were opposite sides of the coin. In the end both lose as Melanie dies and Scarlett drives away the last person left who could love her, Rhett Butler.

Today being called mealy mouthed would be quite a derogatory term. Unfortunately I don’t think many people are mealy mouthed these days. In our modern times, passive aggressiveness has become far more prevalent and has replaced the quiet piety of mealy mouthism. The quiet, seemingly meek kittens that are sweet and friendly to your face turn into rabid lions on the phone and over email. I have met too many people like this than I care to count. It has become a right of passage in the workplace and I believe it is reversing the inroads that feminism has made over the years.

I would like to call myself a moderate feminist. I believe in some of the feminist tenets, but not all. The one tenet I do hold important when it comes to the rights and liberties of my gender is the ability and tendency to speak out on opinions – to stick up for what one believes in. Passive aggressiveness is weak and does nothing to further the cause of womanhood.  Men can be passive aggressive as well, but I really do believe it is far more common amongst females. Why are women so afraid of other women or men that they cannot even debate or have a difficult conversation face to face, resorting to emails or voicemails to show their true colors?

It is a baffling conundrum. Females have the courage to achieve many difficult tasks – child bearing and rearing, education, political office – women can do anything. Yet why is this passive aggressive trait so common amongst my gender?

Perhaps it is a sort of crisis of confusion caused by all of the goals and ideas of womanly success. Woman are told to want it all – the man, the baby, the house, the car, the career. Maybe for some women this actually happens. For most, it’s a trade off. You may have it all during the course of your life, but I doubt all at one time. I believe women in the workplace have been conditioned to think that they should use a combination of sex and aggression to get ahead – a corporate version of “a lady in the parlor, slut in the bedroom.” In an effort to achieve “it all” some women tend to put on the facade of grace and manners while tearing people to shreds undercover – a lethal combination of Melanie and Scarlett wrapped up in a power suit.

Frankly, my dear, it’s sad.

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vainglory


vainglory n. excessive vanity

A few months ago I was watching an absolutely horrible show entitled “Wife Swap.” The premise of the show is to take 2 families at completely opposite ends of the economic spectrum and switch wives for a week. For the first week, the “new” wife had to follow the usual house rules of the home she is temporarily visiting. Then the next week, the family had to live by the visiting wife’s rules. This particular episode featured a mother who was a self help guru and had a series of books and lectures on how to “Be Your Best You.” This included dressing well, eating all organic food, wearing make up and being overly friendly. During the episode she gave a lecture at a homeless shelter and tried to sell her book to people who didn’t have any money. The much less affluent family she was staying with was appalled.

The question is where to draw the line on “Being Your Best You.” What does that mean? Isn’t the phrase somewhat narcissistic in itself?

To clarify my thoughts I looked up the story of Narcissus which I remembered the basic plot of but not all of the details. I stumbled upon an excerpt from Milton’s Paradise Lost that captures the mythology beautifully:

“That day I oft remember when from sleep
       I first awaked, and found myself reposed
       Under a shade on flowers, much wondering where
       And what I was, whence thither brought, and how
       Not distant far from thence a murmuring sound
       Of waters issued from a cave, and spread
       Into a liquid plain, then stood unmoved
       Pure as the expanse of heaven; I tither went
       With unexperienced thought, and laid me down
       On the green bank, to look into the clear
       Smooth lake that to me seemed another sky.
       As I bent down to look, just opposite
       A shape within the watery gleam appeared,
       Bending to look on me. I started back;
       It started back; but pleased I soon returned,
       Pleased it returned as soon with answering looks
       Of sympathy and love. There had I fixed
       Mine eyes till now, and pined with vain desire,
       Had not a voice thus warned me: ‘What thou seest,
       What there thou seest, fair creature, is thyself;” etc.
                                              Paradise Lost, Book IV.

Every morning when I awake, I look in the mirror. Most days I am somewhat apathetic to my appearance. Other days, I hate what I see. Rarely am I pleased. Now that I think about it, I look at my reflection a lot during the average day. Not even because I am trying to. There are just mirrors everywhere – windows, puddles, etc. I am sure if you think about it, you are looking at yourself a lot too.

The world would be much better without mirrors. Imagine that you had a rare opportunity to look at yourself – perhaps once a week. Imagine how much less time you would spend on yourself and what you might do with that time. If Narcissus had not been able to stare into the water, perhaps he would have fallen in love with someone other than himself. Perhaps we would all stop trying to “Be Our Best Us” through physical appearances. Perhaps we could use other people as mirrors.

Other people can reflect us. Our families and children. If we focus on using people as our mirrors then our reflections are our actions and not just a facade that people see. Think of how different “Being Your Best You” would be if all you had were other people to be your mirror and you theirs. You would most likely be a nicer, respectable person. Or the opposite – if you’re an asshole, you would get it thrown right back at you.

It scares me to think that we live in a world of vainglorious people. I fear that vanity is the default for the vast majority whereas it used to be a deplorable trait. Yet another modern dilemma. I wonder if things will level out as the years go by…

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rotifer


rotifer n. a minute multicellular aquatic animal of the phylum Rotifera, having a wheel like ciliated organ used in swimming and feeding.

After a week at the beach, this seems like a fitting word. I can only imagine how many rotifers we came in contact with on Block Island. It is also a fitting word since I have taken such an extended hiatus from this blog. I needed a good noun to write about – not some pesky, emotional adjective or energetic verb.

Rotifer reminds me of high school biology – a subject I adored when I was 16. I think I have lost quite a bit of intelligence since then. I have no idea how I handled the mathematics and technicalities involved to study science, let alone think I could continue my biology studies in college. Sometimes I feel like I copped out when I changed my major to English. It was an easy major for me. I didn’t have to struggle to write or read as I had always loved to since I was young. I chose the road most travelled by when it came to my higher education.

This brings me to the subject of life decisions. Since having my son, I have had to make some very weighty decisions about my life, not returning to work being the largest and most influential one. Believe it or not, it would have been a lot easier for me to return to work. Work was familiar for me. I knew I could do my job well and what the challenges were from day to day. In contrast, baby raising is a constant challenge. Regardless of how much I read or research there is always so much more to learn. I also made the decision to be more health conscious after being pregnant. I run and try to eat right (mostly). I take my art and creativity seriously now and give it the time and consideration it deserves. Moving away from Brooklyn was also difficult. It would have been really easy to just stay in our old life and simply insert the baby into it…or at least try. Ultimately I miss Brooklyn immensely, but I know that Maplewood is a real home for all of us. I suppose I am always a work in progress and always trying to make the right decisions. It gets overwhelming sometimes.

There are many people in (and out) of my life that I like to study. People watching is one of my favorite hobbies. It’s interesting to see what doors open and close by the making of difficult decisions. Even in small ways, perhaps as small as the rotifer, we are always making decisions that blaze a trail for our future. What to eat for lunch? What to wear to work? Whether to bathe or not? Go running or watch TV? The fascinating thing about making decisions is how one minuscule decision can be life changing at any moment in your life without any warning whatsoever. Even more fascinating is the fact that sometimes making the more difficult and painful decision is the better one to make. Of course this leads me back to Robert Frost in his much abused poem:

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. 

 Perhaps it would be easier to be a single celled rotifer with less decisions and mistakes to make. And maybe I should have persevered with my studies in biology and become a doctor. The one thing I am sure of is that my road has been very windy and interesting due to the decisions I have made. It also double backs over itself, goes backwards and then forward again. Sometimes it dead ends and I have to go back the way I came. Frequently there are rocks and boulders to climb over, scrapes and bruises to heal. Some days the trees may cloud the sky and leave me in darkness. Other days the sun blazes down to show me the way.  A straight and level road would be pretty sad. I’m glad I’m not a rotifer and that I have many, many cells and appendages to help me travel along my road and make good and bad decisions all along the way.
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grebo


grebo n. a youth of a group favoring heavy metal or punk rock music and long hair

Today I could go for some Metallica. Some “Enter Sandman.” Ever since I saw the Metallica documentary I can’t stand Lars Ulrich, but I still like Metallica. I also am a big Guns and Roses fan, but are they even really considered metal these days? There is something great about metal. Without it there wouldn’t be Nirvana or Smashing Pumpkins. There is nothing like it when you are feeling rotten or just need to get going. I don’t listen to it enough, but I used to be really into it when I was around 13. I remember getting into trouble when my parents found the Appetite for Destruction cassette tape in my bedroom. It had some gratuitous cartoon nudity in the little booklet inside the case. I remember feeling defiant and grown up. When I was done listening to it, I’d turn on the Wonder Years and stare at Kevin Arnold.

I bet the next thing hipsters try to pull off is Grebo – chic. As much as I don’t like hipster lifestyle, I love people watching them. Their intentionally tacky thrift store outfits and tattoos of useless, meaningless things. Not taking a shower on purpose and stinking on the G train. I also love their mecca – Williamsburg. I remember looking for an apartment on Berry St. a few years ago. It was a 4th floor walk up and when we got to the top there were 4 stoned guys sitting on kitchen chairs and watching porn on a small black and white TV. They had built an elevated bunk bed out of 2 x 4s and were using a wheelchair as a desk chair. It was a railroad apartment and there were garbage bags stuffed in several alcoves. At a different apartment in Williamsburg, the tenants had just moved out and left garbage all over the floor. There were random pieces of furniture parts and food. It was so exciting to view authentic hipster habitats.

Needless to say, we didn’t live in Williamsburg and that was a very long day. However, there is a certain street with a little rocky beach to sit on and watch the dirty water ebb and flow. The same street has a great modern furniture store, a garden shop called Sprout and an architectural salvage shop that makes my mouth water.

I’m not a grebe or a hipster. Just a mom who likes Metallica, the Wonder Years and Brooklyn…and needs a nap.

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pastiche


pastiche n. an artistic work in a style that imitates that of another work, artist or period

I had always associated this word with a great little dessert restaurant in Providence on Federal Hill near Cafe Dolce Vita, which will always be one of my favorite places. I was surprised to learn what it actually meant. It seems very apropos as I have embarked on the “Artist’s Way” journey and am finding it to be very useful in unblocking my creative spirit. It has also caused me to think a lot about art, specifically the state of art at the present.

The old adage goes that “life imitates art,” but sometimes when I am working on something creative I feel like art imitates art. For example, I am currently cutting a lino block for a new project and I can’t help but think that my creation is starting to look like a Nikki McClure work. I love her work and have a bunch of children’s books that I purchased for Graham that we read a lot. I think I am subconsciously channeling her style…and it’s frustrating. In college, we used to have numerous exercises where one would have to write in the “voice” of a different, notable author. This helped to jump start creativity and develop style. One could say that this is what I am currently doing now with this particular piece. I think that all artists struggle with the overwhelming pressure to create a mark in this universe that is completely unique, unlike anything that has ever existed in the past and present. It is a tall order to fill and I think that most will probably never reach that goal. Perhaps being an artist is the endless pursuit towards just that.

The other day I was speaking to my husband about being creative and making prints. He said, “Just make something beautiful.” Sometimes when the brain gets full and I get too far ahead of myself, I need to remind myself of this simple advice. I don’t think there can ever be anything wrong, or useless or unworthy by adding a little bit more beauty to the world. It shouldn’t matter if it looks similar to something else that already exists or if it doesn’t have a voice that tells some complicated, convoluted story. Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Botticelli and Goya made beautiful art that didn’t always overtly express who they were or their view points. It was their style, their indelible mark on the world that expressed their personality. They embodied their artistic voice in their technique and style.

In our present age it seems artists struggle to make work that screams about who they are, their tragedy, their woe. Many times it is vulgar, ugly and meant to evoke emotion or reaction in the viewer…having nothing to do with technique, practice or ability. Art has become a kind of therapy for individuals where creating a tangible example of ones catharsis is the end result and goal. This is not the type of art I aspire to create.

I am “old school” about a good many things. Taking care of my son and cooking are two examples, especially meatballs. They can’t be too bready or too dry and meaty. They should have pignioli nuts, raisins optional. They should be pre browned in a pan and then finish cooking in a nice pot of homemade gravy. The first one you eat should be sprinkled with parmesan cheese and a little gravy. They get better every time I make them. I don’t want to reinvent the meatball. I just want to add something beautiful, simple and delicious to the world.

Now I just need to find my recipe for creativity…

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mansuetude


mansuetude n. meekness; gentleness

Mary, the mother of God, has always had a special, quiet existence in my life. She is a constant, graceful reminder to me of meekness and gentleness and has marked my life from childhood to this day.

I remember going to my grandmother’s house while my mother was ill and my father working. Being an Italian immigrant, she had several religious statues around the house, including a fully dressed infant of Prague who had it’s own wardrobe. Next to the prized infant was a stark painted statue of Mary as well as Saint Theresa. I remember having to sleep in my grandmother’s bed when I stayed over. She snored so loudly and I was up for most of the night imagining that her wheezing and snorting had a rhythmic beat. During those nights I would stare at Mary and she would stare back at me until I feel asleep.

In school, we would prepare for the crowning of Mary with flowers each May. All of the names of the little girls in class would go into a hat to see who would be chosen to walk up the aisle and crown the church statue during our First Friday mass. There was even a song we would sing – “Oh Mary we crown thee with blossoms today…” that I still remember fondly. I never was chosen to crown Mary, but it was always my favorite mass. Mary was my icon of quiet strength and mansuetude as she held up her hands, looked up to heaven and stepped on the snake with such beauty and gentleness.

As I grew older, Mary took on more profound meaning in my life. During one of my sleepless nights when caring for my dying father I remember seeing a water stain on the ceiling above his bed that had a shape like the silhouette of the Virgin Mary. I hadn’t noticed it before and it comforted me to think that she was watching over my father. As he progressed through the final stages of dying, he would speak to invisible people and one of them was named Mary. He could have been seeing his mother who was named Mary and had died when he was just a child. Nevertheless, in my memories it is was Mary who watched over and protected him; who held him in her arms as he died. It was her song – Ave Maria – that was played at his funeral that I cannot hear without crying and remembering the loss of my father.

Mary is who I pray to when I am most scared and alone. When the plane is taking off or I am in fear of losing someone I love. She is the saint that I imagine quietly standing in my corner through out my life. She watches over me without pomp or circumstance, never asking for anything but my faith in return. As Mother’s Day approaches and I watch my son grow and thrive each day, I pray to become an example of gentleness and meekness in his life…the eyes he can stare into as he drifts to sleep, the arms that will hold him in times of pain and sorrow. Always silently, gently in his corner as his mother.

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braaivleis


braaivleis n. a picnic or barbecue where meat is grilled over an open fire

I can track my life in barbecue memories. From the crack of the Naragansett tall boys and fireworks at McCoy stadium in Rhode Island to the outdoor shower and savannah bugs of our Brooklyn deck, barbecues have become an important part of my summer life. This summer we add a third chapter to our barbecue memories here in Maplewood, NJ…and it has me pondering the urban vs. the suburban.

There is something about the summer barbecue that brings a smile to my face. It reminds me of one of my favorite bars in the world – the Gowanus Yacht Club in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. Eating and drinking outside while wearing shorts and talking to friends is one of the most fulfilling simple things we have in life. I miss Brooklyn often for this reason. Here in the suburbs, I feel like people are locked up in their pretty houses, not having to face the unwashed masses out in the street. The city forces you to deal with people on a daily basis whether you want to or not. Sometimes interactions are good, other times you’re having a trash bag of urine soaked clothes swung in your face by a homeless man on the subway (true story). I think this is why I was always so exhausted when we lived in the city. Our apartments were utilitarian and small – for sleeping and eating during the week. We had to get outside just to stretch out and live life.  In the city, your neighborhood is an extension of your apartment. Once a week I would drop off the laundry downstairs and almost daily I would stop into the Ki Grocery for milk or yogurt covered pretzels. I could probably walk into both of those places today and the owners would still know who I was. Our landlord had a man cave under our deck and we could always count on leaning over the deck railing and seeing him a few days out of the week to catch up on neighborhood gossip. There were block parties and festivals almost every weekend of the summer – sometimes too many. When you went outside, it still felt like your living room…sometimes it was great and sometimes you wanted to run.

The suburbs are…different. Transitioning to life here has been a bit of a challenge. Since we have a mortgage, we spend a lot of time “feathering our nest” rather than going out. Every one seems cooped up in their houses making it prettier and better – hell, we paid enough for it. Our neighbors are great, but people just don’t spend unscheduled, unorganized time outside waiting for conversation. People feel like puzzle pieces here – as if they have a space carved out for them – a square peg for every square hole. Things are much more scheduled and routine. There are also a lot less watering holes and spontaneous conversations with strange / interesting people. We go to our local pub almost every week and the damn hostess is still a bitch to us and acts like she’s never seen us before.

This summer, we will have a few braaivlei in our yard as opposed to our old deck in Brooklyn. There will be more mosquitoes and less cockroaches (the huge kind that live outside…scary…won’t miss them). I suppose we are beginning a new chapter in our barbecue history book. Quite some time ago, grilling out in Pawtucket, Rhode Island and catching the Red Sox game in the den was a weekend past time. We shall see what this summer brings…

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daughterboard


daughterboard n. a small printed circuit board that attaches to a larger one

It is a little known fact that I once worked in a factory soldering mother and daughterboards all day. It was for 6 months after my father was diagnosed with a brain tumor and I did not go away to college as planned. Since we didn’t know if he would live much longer, it was important for me to stay home. My father was the provider in our family before he became ill. My mother had worked here and there when I was a kid, but her jobs hardly paid the bills. It was necessary for me to work and bring in money right after my father had brain surgery and so I worked with my aunt who was the manager of a factory in Little Ferry, New Jersey.

Those 6 months of soldering boards were the hardest yet most valuable months of my life. I had spent most of the summer preceding it anticipating college life. To say the least I did not expect my father to have brain surgery and given a death sentence. As much as I was disappointed that I had to work, the soldering and assembly that I worked on at the factory brought a sense of order to my days. I remember sitting at my bench listening to the radio and soldering each tiny circuit one by one onto the boards. I was actually very skilled and perfected just the right amount of solder that I needed to get the perfect weld. I used to solder dozens of boards a day. There was such a sense of satisfaction when the bell rang at 4 pm seeing the pile of work I had completed. It’s a satisfaction I rarely attain from work to this day.

Eventually, I was put on the telephones – which I didn’t like as much. I frequently hung up on people by accident and I didn’t like acting cheerful and chipper to strangers constantly. My boss wouldn’t let me read when the phones were dead so I collated instruction manuals.

During my 6 months as a factory worker, my father’s health improved. He had lost most of his eye sight since the tumor was in his occipital lobe, but the rest of his brain functioned well and his body was strong. He knew I needed to go away to school…that if I didn’t I would likely be stuck working in a factory in New Jersey. So when January came we rented a mini van with my aunt, my mother, brother and my father and drove to Providence to move into my dorm room – a semester behind everyone else.  It was a proud day for me – much different from my previous trips to visit the school. My father and I had driven to Providence my senior year in high school several times for orientation and my interview. We always rented a car and I would nap in the back seat so I would be in good shape for my interview. I still remember the peach air freshener and NPR playing on the radio. Whenever I smell those little peach tree air fresheners, I think of dad.

I suppose the reason I digress is because I never thought that working in a factory for 6 months would serve me well in life, but I often find myself thinking about those days – especially when I was working before Graham was born. I find it so strange that often times the events in life we are most embarrassed and ashamed of are the most important and formative. They are the most honest accounts of our lives and represent our most intrinsic qualities.

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