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Posts Tagged ‘Home’

The two ancient cedar trees have grown together, meeting over the front porch steps of the old house. I part them just enough to climb through. The porch floor is iffy, many of the boards rotting, some even having crumbled and fallen through tangles of spider webs into the dark abyss. Who knows what waits there? Copperheads? Black-widows? It’s safer keeping to the periphery where weight is supported by the much overbuilt footings Grandpa had fashioned out of his collection of fossils and geological finds appropriated on his travels.

The front door stands ajar. Local rowdies have long ago broken in and helped themselves to all the old furniture. Even Grandma’s rocking chair, worth nothing on the local “We buy junk; We sell antiques” market, has been carted off to who knows what oblivion. It would have at best been good for kindling, but I would love to have it just to remember her sitting and rocking, rubbing swollen knuckles on her old hurting hands, and murmuring “I wish I had every-thin’ done”. One arm of the rocker broken beyond aesthetic repair had been salvaged with a bolt, a quarter-twenty flat washer, and a length of baling wire.

The ancient bed, where several generations of Reynolds and then Martins had been conceived and ultimately delivered, is gone, leaving a large unworn rectangle in the corner. Even the old wood stove is conspicuous in its absence, leaving only a gaping maw of blackened stovepipe protruding from the wall. Nothing holds my interest in the stripped front bedroom but memories, so I head for the door that leads to the parlor.

It resists my pressure, hip shoves, and even a hard kick, but finally I’m in. Stacked up beyond are crates and boxes of electronics journals, as well as piles of individual issues that have been dumped out by the scalawags in their joyous creation of this monumental mess. My Dad, who never discarded an electronics reference source, had long before he died, stored his precious stash in the old parlor. Now his once neatly packed and stacked boxes are a metaphor for chaos. My stomach sinks. I am glad, so very glad, that he didn’t have to witness this desecration of what he had so valued.

I want to find something of personal meaning to keep and treasure. But how? Where? I’ll never be able to sort through it all. Discouraged, I pick my way across the room to the fireplace and sit on the raised hearth. I close my eyes and retreat to a place of no thought, just being__ breathing. Suddenly I’m up, slip-sliding through slick magazine covers and staggering to a spot that seems to be calling to me. I kneel and begin to dig, tossing aside volume after volume of out-of-date material that had once represented state-of-the-art. I dig all the way down to linoleum, uncovering a small red box. It’s a standard package for top-tear bank checks. I reach for it with both hands and yank off the lid. It’s mine, left from years ago when my Dad and I had collaborated on a new concept wound suction pump, and I had invented an improved mammary implant using silicone gel and Emerson & Cuming Eco-Spheres. Sweet memories come flooding back. Inside the box is a Polaroid snapshot of one of my engineering drawings speckled with red sticky dots. Each dot had called attention to a small change that was needed before the drawing could be declared finalized, ready to publish. Under the photo is a head of matured wheat that my sister, Leslie, had tucked behind my favorite piece of wall art. The painting had given me the pleasure of beauty while working at my desk, creating side by side with Daddy, thinking up wild and wacky widgets, a lifetime dream on its way to fulfillment. The wheat reminds me of a future harvest, wished for and hoped for, a gift from Leslie, the little sister I loved but hadn’t really tried yet to know, the one who was very much afraid of spiders. I wonder if she still is afraid of them.

There is no need to look further. I slip out the back door clutching my box and wondering how it was that I could have been drawn almost magically through a roomful of detritus to that small buried box of memories and dreams. There is surely more to living in a physical world than can be elucidated by rational thought alone.

__Dorothy Jeanette Martin 10/9/2012

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A recent much advertized experiment answered the ancient question, “What is beautiful”?  A statistically significant number of women’s faces were superimposed, thanks to the cleverness of computer graphics, and mathematically averaged to a single image.  The result?  The image was identical to the ideal female face.  Human brains naturally and subliminally average the many perceptions of real women into the goddess-like proportions of the feminine ideal.  Lots of luck gals.  None of us will ever satisfy that delusional lust for perfection.  We are our own unique separate selves__nobody’s ideal.

If our brains are so adept at averaging concepts of visual beauty, why should we not take on other even more complex algorithms?  I assert that we do.  We are purposefully acculturated from our first breath to become the average ideal.  We are compared to long dead progenitors, to high-performing or misbehaving parents, to every which-way acting-out siblings, to Hollywood Stars, to comic-book heroes, to saints, to villains, even to the Devil Incarnate.  In between being told that “our tongue will stick to it” and that “our eyes will freeze that way”, we are evaluated vis-à-vis all manner of others, with the intent of titrating our expression of humanness toward an innocuous golden
mean.

But, most of us are imperfect.  We are the offspring of imperfect parents and parenting.  Some of us suffer a growing up in the south, where fodder for anguished prosody hangs dripping from the trees.

Only a favored few grow up whole and hearty, with nothing to prove to self or others, no chip firmly attached to shoulder already twisted to the weighted shape of culture gone a-skew, no guilt gripped gonads clutched in incestuous embrace, no memories of Medusa mothering, snakes coiled and crazed with

(Head by rickveitch.com)

fright, too horrified to petrify as stone.  Ever compliant, we comply.  We would do anything to be loved by the mother who bore us, by the father who inspired us to Self.  We become what we must, given what we see in others comparing and accusing eyes.

And what of the rest of us who do achieve average perfection?  Boring average eyes set in the skulls of boring average parents, see some of us as average, well-balanced, boring children.  We become average, steadfast, and predictable.  How could we be driven to the passion necessary to produce art?  Where would we mine the rage, disembowel the lust?  What merely intelligent words could soar to poetic heights without riding the wide wings of feeling?

We imperfect persons know our betters.  We do our best to get along.  We limp.  We overachieve.  We embellish our triumphs just trying to keep up.  So far from being perfect, being average is an impossible ambition.  No-drama Obama has made a name for himself as devoid of emotion.  A lie.

The rage of passion’s embers smolders in his gut.  It must.  A displaced person, exceptional, neither black nor white, he loved and lived with a mother dying of cancer, knowing that a more compassionate system would have saved her.  His tormented genius father walked away, leaving a heritage of not good enough for a son to internalize and embody.  A more prosaic childhood would have made a different child, more smug, more perfect, and to be sure, more average.

As living beings of the human variety, I suggest we would do well to circumvent statistical concepts when trying to embody the who we are and the whom we may become.  If we are to fully inhabit our divine potential, we must feel what we feel, hate what we hate, and love what we love.  That’s a recipe for a lived life and fodder for true expression of  art and of joy.

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Recent studies show it is men who benefit from marriage, increasing length of life and overall happiness, while marriage limits a woman’s personal potential. Alliance with the male leverages her power, extrapolating her man’s and appropriating it as vaguely her own; at firm ground, she understands that arrangement for the fraud that it is. Cultural mores worldwide legitimize this delusion, so there is little pressure for a woman to acknowledge the insight even if she should stumble over it in a moment of unguarded clarity.

In a past amicable but passionless marriage, my husband and I often agreed, “What we need is a wife!” As the distaff in that partnership, I resented always being the one to dispense caring. Why was I denied the blessings of eternal childhood while my Peter Pan husband got to fly about sprinkling pixie-dust? Everyone knows that creativity requires the freedom of play, but somebody’s got to wash the dishes. We’ll leave them for the maid, I fantasized, as we turned out the light and headed for bed and some productive cuddling.

I love my kitchen, incarnation of the maternal, hub of family life, source of warmth and tantalizing odors. It is the negation of its power that I reject. A man who enters my center of female alchemy faces a challenge. Do his limbs get all gooey as he dramatizes his affected ineptitude, or does he grab a gingham apron, detailed with rick-rack and ruffles, strap it on, and start looking for a recipe for corn chowder? It takes a big man to be alive in the kitchen. Nothing is sexier than a man in an apron. His limbs get hairier. His torso takes on a more studly aspect. His confidence radiates as he personifies phallic imperative.

Now the question arises: Is this about the bull loose in the china shop or about my own perceptions of manliness? This is a serious question deserving a serious response. I don’t do serious well. It’s difficult to write in a grim sterility that dismisses all vestiges of self from the product. I have spent a lifetime trying and always fail. Even the most rigidly technical effort succumbs to a pirouette of whimsy, and it’s all over. When you write poetry, write poetry; when you write prose, for Heaven’s sake write prose. I know that. I just find it hard to live up to the admonition. Some things are harder than others. (Pun intended.) Sometimes it seems I am a walking, talking, embodiment of the Freudian slip. Sigmund, his dirty old man fixation inclusive, had it right.  The ladies have it figured: Manhood is wonderful. Gay or Straight, Guys are great! Can’t live with ‘em; can’t live without ‘em.

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