Hello life, who let you in?
And how long will you stay?
A day or two it used to be
A friendly stranger passing by
But now I lie and look at you for hours
Padding light footed in the corners of my room
Wombed in secrecy
And yet -
I breathe easier with so many windows thrown open
Dust blown away
So stay life
Lap tuck your head
Hello life, who let you in?
On Mother’s Day, I went home to garden with my mom. After digging around with the worms for a bit, I wandered next door to our neighbors who had just returned from lunch with Linda’s 92-year-old mother, Jeanne. About a week ago, Linda was going through old toys and found her mother’s childhood bear, a brown button-eyed creature with washers as leg joints and fur all worn away. The bear wore a white gown with a hand-crocheted picture of a bear waving a bell. Jeanne’s mother had made the gown.
"Oh hello you, it’s been quite a while," Jeanne said to the bear. "We’ll have to put you with all the new toys where you can be the grandpa bear."
She turned it over in her hands and fingered the ears which looked as though they’d been sewn over many times.
"I used to carry him around by his ears." Jeanne said.
In The Velveteen Rabbit, a toy bunny longs to be “real” like the wild rabbits he encounters in the woods. It’s only at the story’s end, when the rabbit’s velveteen fur has rubbed away and his eyes have fallen out, that he realizes it’s love that makes you real. The whole of you is developed through loving - sacrificing and losing parts of yourself in order to gain parts of another.
I saw Jeanne’s bear, but I also saw the washers, firmly attached to the toy’s legs by her father. And the detailed little red bell sewn by her mother.
A pillar of love calling out from a century past.
If I could tell you everything
You wouldn’t need to ask
We’d waste no time
with peeling back
the layers of the mask
If you could see my heart’s inside
You wouldn’t need to guess
Or hold its bloody contents
And pray for more from less
If I were somehow not myself
You wouldn’t even have to try
I’d be a shoe that ties itself
A truth undoing lie
Uber-Where are you heading ma’am?
Me-Ah, I gotta go pick up my car from my sister who borrowed it. Younger sisters, you know…
Uber-Oh yes, I know. How many siblings do you have?
Me-Two younger sisters.
Uber-Ah, so three girls.
Me-Yeah, three girls. I’m like the moderator. I keep the two younger ones from killing each other.
Uber-Yes, this is like me and my wife. (Laughing) I am like, ok, you are right, you are the best my love, now please just calm down.
Me-I’ll have to remember that.
Uber-Yes, if you get married, you must do these things. It’s good to carry each other as much as we can. No one is perfect.
Me-I like that. How many siblings do you have?
Uber-We are 10 brothers and sisters and I am the center.
Me-Wow, jeez. How was it being in the middle of all that?
Uber-How do I like it? I like it. It’s ok.
Me-Well you have a good night. Enjoy the warm weather this week if we get any.
Uber-Don’t worry ma’am, I’ve got these weather controlling knobs. (Points to heater in the car) For me, it is always warm.
Uber-Yes, very lucky.
I dreamt the other night I was at a carnival. I wandered into one area which turned out to be a freak show - just a series of rooms packed with bizarre-looking people. A man whose body glowed red, an upside down man dressed as a snake, a massive bearded woman, an impossibly old man. I moved through each room, head tucked down, wanting to look but feeling guilty. When I finally found my way out, I ran into the owner.
"Hey," I said. "Look, if you guys aren’t turning a profit, I can tell you why. That freak show is dated and abusive. Get rid of it."
The owner, an attractive older woman, smiled at me and laughed.
"The freak show? Those people want to be here. They voluntarily come. It’s the way they celebrate themselves. It’s you who sees them as grotesque,” she said.
Well. Thanks subconscious. Just what are you trying to say exactly?
Death, the way out
and way back in
the underneath skin layer
The comfort cloud wrapping us
to the shape of ourselves
we cut out most during life
A little audio slideshow from Pilsen’s annual march of pretend Jesus towards a pretend crucifixion. When I covered this event last year, I was chasing after Jesus and the soldiers like some maniacal Pontius Pilate paparazzi. This time, I got over my Jesus fix and turned the focus where it belonged — on all those who had turned out to complete the three-hour pilgrimage down 18th Street. Watching people watch god is something else. Especially when the son of man can be captured by an iPhone 5.
I went to eat a burger
then thought about the cow
Reached for some chicken tenders
but pondered on the “how”
A fish stick was the bees knees
before my goldfish in his bowl
Think I’ll just go eat a carrot
and pray it hasn’t got a soul
Death and old magazines are supposed to dominate this blog, and while we’ve had plenty of the former, the latter has slacked. Here’s a 1972 Life Magazine, Remember Marilyn, which - for its title and cover - only has a meager four pages in the back devoted to old Norma Jean. (Who, incidentally, spelled her name Norma Jeane).
I don’t think I knew that Marilyn was briefly married to a guy named Jim Dougherty at 16, as page 73 points out. A look at Dougherty’s 2005 L.A. Times obit reveals that the marriage was one of convenience, or in Marilyn’s case, of not being wanted. She was living with friends of her mother - then in a psych ward - and the friends wanted to move back to West Virginia, but would have had to abandon the then 15-year-old Norma Jeane.
"She would have gone back to an orphanage or another foster home, so her foster mother suggested I marry her," Dougherty said in a 1990 interview. "We decided to get married to prevent her from going back to a foster home, but we were in love."
The magazine has several pictures I’ve never seen. One, taken just two years before her death at 36, shows a wet, ghastly looking Monroe in a nude bathing suit. The sun’s angle forces her to squint, casting her pupils into shadow above a Joker grin.
This ethereal black and white photo was taken after Marilyn told photographer Milton Greene that what she missed most out of life was not having a high school yearbook photo.
Th last page has her in a robe, looking out a window, with her left hand up against her cheek. The photo is one that Marilyn included in an album she assembled a friend’s birthday. Beside the photo, in four different colors of crayon, Marilyn writes: “this is my favorite.” As an afterthought, the dot over the red “i” in “this” has been changed to a white circle to match the “i” in “is.”
She liked the photo - Life says - because it reminded her of Norma Jean(e).