Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Other People's Stories

I was awake, sitting at my dining room table sipping coffee and looking out the window onto a cold blustery morning recently between 6 and 7 am.  Looking down my hill I can see two rental houses next door to one another, both with double entry doors and covered front porches.  From the house on the left, a white woman in a white hoodie emerged and lit a cigarette.  From the house on the right, a black man in a black hoodie emerged and lit a cigarette.  I watched them smoke in the still dark morning, their lit cigarettes the only light and heat source around, both of them alone.

Because of their odd symmetry, I wanted them to be friends, but they never spoke.

* * * * *

Earlier this afternoon, I was debating getting on the computer to finish the entry that began with the story above.  I looked out my window and saw two teenage guys walking down the street in the fast-falling snow.  A white dude in a white hoodie, and a black dude in a black hoodie.  Maybe my city -or at least my neighborhood- is self-segregating by hoodie color.  Kind of sucks to be me, because pale-skinned round people (in other words, me any winter, but most especially this one) do not need to be wearing white.  

Shit is unflattering.

* * * * *

The parenting class I taught today had me laughing out loud.  We're talking about managing stress on children, and got onto the topic of having extended family move in with you, and the stress it causes, especially in conjunction with the holidays.  People had stories -oh, did they ever have stories!- and by the end of class we were all roaring with laughter and I could barely get them out the door on time.  I find some comfort in the notion that all of us -no matter our socioeconomic status, background, ethnicity or region of origin- have in common at least one crazy-ass relative we have to deal with.  And that humor is such a universal way of coping.

One of my students, in the midst of a huge family fued, recently put differences aside to support and witness her aunt give birth.  It's amazing what the body can do, she said.  It was beautiful.  It was disgusting.

* * * * *

My son has been demanding and quick to dissolve into tears and whining if he doesn't get what he wants recently.  He woke up from his nap this afternoon and had a hard time telling me what he wanted (a cup of water) without whining and crying.  I was able to ignore the whining and crying and just softly repeated a few times when you can tell me with your words, let me know and I'll help you, then left him to work it out.  Eventually he told me he needed water, and when I gave it to him along with a hug, he said I need you, I need to get up, and reached to me with both arms.  I guided him to the rocking chair in his bedroom where we read books and listen to lullabies at night.  Then I pulled him up onto my lap and we sat, rocking in silence, the only light coming in through the glimpses of window at the bottom of his curtains.  It was pure white, bouncing off the freshly fallen snow, and our house was late-afternoon dim.  We sat until he was calm and relaxed, and then he asked about his daddy.

When I said he was at the hardware store buying a spark plug to fix our second hand snowblower (we've had it for two years, waiting to buy a part for it that turned out -when we finally took action- to be available locally for under $20 with an easily found free online manual with directions for replacing it, although once we did that we discovered it also needed a new spark plug) my son was ready to get up and get going in good spirits.  I need to go to the store, he said.  I  need to get barreties (batteries) and fix that blower for Dada.


  1. i expect a full update on this hoodie trend you have been witnessing. fascinating stuff.

    that boy sure sounds sweet. love his observations!
    take care.

  2. My word lady...I just love to read your posts.
    My parenting class ends this week. It's been such an awesome class to teach and it keeps me motivated during the day at work.
    Hope you are feeling well...