Shameless selfie. Amused.
During high school I made it a top priority to gain the ability to lift one eyebrow.
The endeavor was not an easy one. I had to train like a fine athlete, brushing wimpy quitter thoughts from my psyche. I started out using the ability that I did have and built my skill from there: raising two eyebrows, but holding the left one down by force with my finger. I did this as I walked down hallways in between classes. In P.E. while waiting to dodge a red, rubber ball. Anytime something boring was happening in class. So you see, I had plenty of opportunity to practice.
After a grueling training regimen I learned to isolate the muscle beneath my right eyebrow and have enjoyed the ability to soundlessly signal my amusement ever since.
But with great power comes great responsibility. Or something.
I have raised one eyebrow often over the years since I have been in high school, and the skill has not come without a price. Ladies and gentlemen, I have extra wrinkles over my right eyebrow and am now destined to be a little old lady with asymmetrical face wrinkles. A permanent mark of a lifetime of bemused stares.
I always thought it was a curious fact of life that every teacher I ever had in my entire academic career, elementary through high school wrote “100” in the same exact way. Red pen, connecting zeroes. I’ve practiced writing “100” that way numerous times and could never get it to look convincing. Probably because I spent my middle school years industriously writing new alphabets so that my friends and I could write our letters in the exact same way. That and inventing codes and writing notes about said teachers in code. I was a rebel.
Also probably because I was never in enough of a hurry to lend the number the edge that a speedy swipe would give it. Alas, I was too deliberate. I had too much time on my hands.
There was no unit in my teacher training classes to prepare the aspiring teachers to write “100” like a real teacher. Clearly it would be irresponsible to accept a teacher position until I rectify this shocking void. Luckily I have a carefully preserved specimen written circa 1996 on a handmade 1607 Jamestown cookbook from 7th grade. Behold the lonesome 1 and the delicate curve of the double zeroes. A skinny and a fat. Beautifully executed. The 1 with a toe edged beyond the circle line.
Now that I am a mother and I have to do everything in between investigating curious silences and shrieking, “get down from there!” I might actually be able to work with the urgency necessary to successfully recreate teacher handwriting.
I am extremely happy that a person’s skill with plants does not predict their ability to nurture other living things. Case in point?
My thumb is terribly brown, which is a shame because I love gardens and growing things. I read and re-read Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Secret Garden growing up. I could just see myself having a little butterfly garden brimming with flowers and lush, exuberant life. Preferably within the bounds of a brick, ivy covered wall accessible by a secret door and a key. But reality? See above.
Oliver and I moved into our house on a December day in 2012. We knew right away that we were going to plant a garden and enjoy fresh vegetables all summer. We received a Home Depot gift certificate for Christmas and promptly decided that we were going to build some raised beds in a little fenced in area off the side of our house. We built the beds and trucked in some soil for them. We planted green beans, bell peppers, squash, tomatoes and onions.
By the summer’s end our harvest consisted of a handful of sickly looking tomatoes, a shriveled squash which implored us to put it out of its misery and a lush crop of pigweed that thought we were doing a most excellent job.
It’s a very lucky thing that a person cannot be indicted for plant slaughter. I could just see a room full of police reviewing surveillance tape of me leaving a store with an incriminating bag of potting soil.
These days I have my eye on a red Mexican bird of paradise plant. I’m hoping that this desert-loving plant will be able to withstand heinous neglect. I took a seed pod from the shrub planted outside St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and plan to germinate the seeds soon. One for me and one for my mom for mother’s day.
The poor plant will have to be hardy to survive my hands. It will be facing a life much like mythological Greek afterlife. It may have to pray for St. Joseph’s intercession to just barely cling to life, much less thrive.
St. Joseph, you tenderly cared for baby Jesus and your verdantly blooming lily. Please pray for all the hapless plants who have the misfortune of depending on me for sustenance.
I just realized that I have become one of those women who non-ironically displays chicken figurines right in the middle of the kitchen for everyone to see. This chicken has come to me in the form of a cookie jar that used to live at my grandma’s house. It just may be my favorite kitchen accessory. Perhaps the greatest thing about a chicken figurine is that it’s an unmistakable signal to guests not to expect a perfectly clean house. It prepares them for a floor full of toys and dust. It screams, “Bless This Mess” without actually screaming “Bless This Mess.” I wrote several years ago pre-children and pre-Catholicism that I want to become one of those women with a house and a chicken figurine. And now I have. Progress, y’all!
Last week Oliver and I went to a San Antonio burger joint to treat ourselves to a burger lunch. As we were leaving I spotted a familiar shape in the crane machine and giddily told Ollie, “Oh, win me that stuffed chicken!” He looked at it and laughed, “how did I know you would like that one? It looks like it belongs in some old lady’s attic.” It did. And that was why I liked it. The crane machine held a patchwork calico stuffed chicken which seemed to be composed of cast-offs and flour sack scraps, not the type of thing you’d expect out of a machine that holds 25 cent dog toys and Betty Boop plushies.
Which brings me to real chickens. I have some in my back yard, and my back step has been baptized with chicken poop. We acquired the hens in the spring of 2012, so at this point some of them are becoming quite geriatric. Throughout their years of service some of them have become like pets to me. I don’t think you can name a chicken that you hope to one day strip of its tasty bird flesh, and so Meg and Blacky and Penny will most likely remain in my backyard coop laying very few eggs until they finally kick the bucket and the only chicken I have left is a cookie jar filled with lovely edibles. Besides the golden girls, we have two young hens who do the bulk of the egg laying. Unfortunately for these ladies, I cannot tell them apart and so the naming is difficult. I cannot guarantee their future safety. For now I enjoy their eggs and the daily amusement of chucking scraps out the back door inevitably onto the back of a young red hen.