We drove up the snowy, winding road towards the cozy A-frame cabin. We had been needing a vacation for a while and each had our own reasons to both, get away and be in the company of people we loved and trusted. Sara came from a dysfunctional family and had lived on her own since she was 18, but now at 30 she had lost her job and used her savings and this would be her last break before having to move back in with her family. After all of her hard work, she is struggling to accept that she will be right back where she started. Jamie received an unexpected promotion, tripling her already high salary and increasing her profile globally, this would be her last break before no longer being a “normal” person, she had always wanted this opportunity, but it was too high of a profile for a woman, so she had come to accept that she had hit the glass ceiling when the man who held the spot died suddenly of a heart attack while going on a hike, without much time to do a search, her company had to rely on her and fortunately they realized she was quite capable of doing the job. Finally, there was me; I lost my father earlier this year and have just felt unmoored by his passing. He wasn’t the best decisionmaker in life, but he always understood the battles my heart and brain were having with each other and would guide me in arbitrating which one I should listen to.
I noticed her smiling, full of sheer joy. She was playing with my eyeshadows. My very expensive eyeshadows were colorfully strewn across my bed with her playing with their textures and expertly breaking them up. I grabbed her and tickled her and started to teach her colors from the colorful flakes on the bed. This was a moment of joy for me, because I knew my daughter was appropriately interested in colors AND that I had the ability to repurchase those shadows.
Coromoto was a ten-year-old girl with the life dissatisfaction of a grumpy eighty-five-year-old man. She was annoyed with everything in her life, including the flora and weather that surrounded her. In her quiet moments, she would enviously look at the calendar on her bedroom wall with photos of flowers and lush gardens in the United States. Those calendars reflected changes in season she had never experienced. She longed for an environment that wasn’t as harsh as hers and as cool as theirs. Her mining town was arid, hot, the soil was made of red clay and there were very few trees outside of the riverbanks. Heat was her oppressor and she saw greenery as her liberator.
THE INVISIBLE COST OF TRAUMA
My two trees are finally the same height after many years, but the one on the left has now been invaded by an invasive weed. The one on the right still looks healthy and perfect. I have been watching these trees grow since a major snow storm knocked one down a few years ago. Because they were planted at the same time an in the same soil, their histories were almost identical until that storm.
I woke up this morning to a baby puking on me while smiling unapologetically. For the first time her lack of inhibition worried me. This Mother's Day, I thought I'd be reflecting on being a mother for the first time and jot down some mushy words, instead, I think back to the day I walked in on my mom having greater aspirations for my daughter than she did for me.
I was a very prissy girl in a very manly town. I loved air conditioning, indoor plumbing, electricity and didn’t enjoy the company of nature’s many critters. My town was a mining town: sulfur, bauxite, aluminum, and a bit further out, gold. Parties were replete with manly men gambling, playing dominoes, drinking; women were dressed in their best attire hoping to catch the eye of the lucky miners that week. This was a no-nonense, modern-day city but after-hours had a feeling best captured in Western movies.
No Subject Line
“These young people” I sighed after reading the second request for an extension. The e-mail messages came in weeks before the first day of class and before the student even saw the syllabus. I reply politely, make sure I can log in to all the University’s systems and start writing my presentations. Later in the day I commiserate on Facebook with my fellow college instructors about how annoying these young people are; were we like that or did our teachers like us because we weren’t like that? How long will it take for these shenanigans to go from amusing to downright enraging? Its all fun and games, until a parent starts to stalk you because their brilliant child is barely earning a C in the course.
THAT'S NOT WHAT I DO
I wasn't going to get an A, that's what my professor told me after examining my final entry for my Abstract Art course that semester. I apparently mixed colors too much and that was not part of the color vocabulary of the Abstract Art world. Over the semester I failed miserably to keep my colors crisp, and I was going to face the consequences for not following directions. My GPA was going to be damaged by a course that had nothing to do with my chosen profession, but which I had taken because it seemed like one of the only fun electives available. I didn't get an A, but being miles away from my home, during my first year away at a college I had never visited before moving into, I would find my inner peace at least once a week in this course I would not be acing.
WHAT I WANT TO BE WHEN I GROW UP
What do I want to be when I grow up? I jokingly refer to myself as a mid-life crisis-ing lawyer who happens to have a foot in politics. The truth is that over fifteen years of serving some the world’s most vulnerable populations can leave you emotionally and spiritually drained, and as I look towards my older colleagues who are experiencing their second and third heart attacks, it is apparent that continuing to do this work is more taxing than I can handle.
Pest or mythical being?
There is nothing like flora and fauna to give you a sense of place. I grew up in a tropical region where the animals that surrounded me regularly were lizards, macaws, monkeys, snakes, in addition to your domestic cats, dogs, chickens. That meant that North American critters were exotic to me and experienced through cartoons. If it were available, I would have paid an admission fee to see squirrels, racoons, skunks, and possums-a thought that would be ludicrous to your average American gardener and/or hater of pests. Today I pay hundreds of dollars to have racoons, skunks and possums removed from my backyard.