Archive | Literary References RSS feed for this section

Mi Canto

6 Jun

Este dolor no me puedo aguantar.  Es una pesa muy duro, encima de mi cuerpo, arrancando mi alma.

Entiendo ya los sentimientos de Alfonsina Storni, aunque la escogía suya no será mi camino.

Entiendo ya el canción La Llorona.  Soy ella.  Tengo el vacilo en mi vida, el profundo silencio en vez de mi hijo.

Entiendo ya, un dolor doloroso, pesado, sin enternecer.

Entiendo ya, lo que me entiendo.  Soy la madre sin el hijo.

the cane

No Longer Needed

Mandibular Trauma

2 Dec

Though my last post was long winded, and I’m sure only those who take the time to read my blog from their place of employment could justify the long haul to the end of my story (except for one lady I know, but she is queen of the Woodglen thus time just spills from her plate–wink, wink), I could re-use my title, from that post, again and again and again.  “Unintentionally Imperfect”…I am pretty sure that is my crowning achievement as well as my pain in the ass!  Now the title, mandibular trauma, is just a beautiful grouping of words which have a syncopated and rhythmic effect when placed next to each other.  And because of that, I needed to investigate their connection further.

When I first read the words, mandibular trauma, they were written from a man who was describing Randy Newman.  Odd, right?  Well I think it an odd description, but then again, I have not been in the company of Randy Newman.  The man of many talents, Van Dyke Parks, was being interviewed about his work with various artists.  When it came to him describing Mr. Newman his response was less than favorable about Randy as a person, while keeping the genius of Newman’s writing intact.  To paraphrase and get to the point of my title, Mr. Parks sentiment went like this, “He suffers fools not wisely.  He has a tendency to mandibular trauma.  He comes out slugging” (Uncut July 2010, pg. 89).  I confess, I read and re-read that statement several times.  The description of, tendency to mandibular trauma, hooked me.  All of a sudden I found myself investing my personal ‘thought time’ (personal thought time=opportunities for following various trains of thought i.e while doing the dishes, applying makeup, folding clothes, etc.) into the contemplation of the description while trying to figure out what that means in a practical sense.  Did Van Dyke intend to say that Randy literally began throwing punches toward the jaw, either that of Park’s or himself?  Or, was the terminology used as a metaphor with no literal connection at all?  Meaning, did Mr. Newman spew out such hurtful words that Van Dyke Parks likened the verbal regurgitation to being traumatic to the mandibles?

Am I alone in this area of word scrutinization?  Am I the only ‘nut’ who reads, pretty much everything?  Yes, I actually do read everything.  You can find me investing good time perusing the manual of a new cell phone.  Or the warning label which is adhered to an electrical appliance cord.  Even the label on a mattress and/or pillow.  I read, read, and read…and sometimes it is just a bunch of junk.  Cereal boxes, hair care products, ingredients, fine print, etc.  Then I have the audacity to evaluate the meaning of said junk.  But on the flip side, I am a lover of language…its intentions, its construction, its etymology, its music.  And when certain words are used which, for one reason or another, catch my interest and hang out in the contemplations of my mind, I get excited to traipse down the road of clues toward unraveling the mystery of the verbiage.  Another example: Last year my daughter gave me a sample packet of a skin scrub from a company who call themselves, Skin Food.

Skin Food body scrub

Coffee Body Scrub…shall I eat it, or wear it?!

And just this past week I spied the packet hanging out next to my face lotion (ok, ok, anti-wrinkle cream) as it has been there every day since she gave it to me.  I asked myself, “What are you waiting for?  Just use the damn stuff already!  Then I corrected my brash tone to, “darned stuff”, and pulled it off of the shelf.  Being I am who I am, I turned the packet over to make sure I understood the intention of the maker…in case theirs was a supernaturally different body scrub and scrubbing it on the skin and then rinsing it off was not the proper modus operandi.  Well sure enough their instructions differ from that of my previous knowledge.  Though their variation is due only to lack of proper editing and attention to detail.  Here I type the instructions verbatim, “After liberally in the shower or bath, using gentle circular motion.”

Now really, what is a girl to do?  At least this girl, who is a fanatic about the cohesive use of language (and to this end, I apologize for subjecting you to my past written faux pas, as they are due to my laziness.  When I am tired, I turn from taking the time to properly edit a post and choose to “publish” with errors intact.  Bad form, bad form–though I am not marketing my prose for money…at this point!).  Well me being Bent Rivka and all, I conversed with the packet as if I were standing in front of the entire marketing team.  Once finished berating them their error, I had to get my head around the erroneous directions.  I played with word substitution for a bit, and then decided a complete re-write was in order.  At one point (and I admit I should have begun here), I said to myself, “Oh hell, Rivka, you know how to use stupid body scrub.  Now get in the shower and shut up!”  And so I did.  I used the product but could not bring myself to throw away the packet because the directions were haunting me.  I have been looking at that packet for a solid week.  I periodically pick it up and double check that the error doesn’t lie within my interpretation.  And now, I am utilizing this beautiful blog forum to lay to rest the confusion of the issue.  RIP, Skin Food…r.i.p.

Ok, the truth of this post is this, my son has been suffering to a significant degree this past week and a half.  As he struggles with severe pain, medication withdrawal, and the emotional stress of processing his prognosis, his dad and I shoulder his reality in different ways.  For me, to discuss the irrelevant and absurd, such as the word choice of the Van Dyke Parks article from 2010 and the beauty product from a year ago (though freshly opened last week), helps me release the pressure which comes from not being able to “fix” the hurts of my son.  After all, a mother is the one who comforts her children and who by doing so, makes all the wrongs right again.  In Cole’s case, I cannot touch that which ails him.  Additionally, as I shared in my previous blog story, this week has been filled with other circumstances of stress which are burdensome in and of themselves.  So skin food, Randy Newman, and Van Dyke Parks it is.  And thankfully, because I have this forum in which to deflate the ‘ol brain a bit, I can now throw out the packet of gelatinous goop which holds a smidgen of salt, sugar, and coffee grounds.  I can also assure you my jaw is doing just fine!   Once again, thanks for listening with your eyes. 🙂

Daughter Shopping

12 Sep

My title is deceiving.  It implies I am in the market for a new daughter.  This is not the case…I assure you.  And though this post has nothing to do with shopping for a child, it does involve the parent-child dynamic.  Are you surprised?  Have I not overused this topic already?  I will answer for you, “no to both questions.”  Of course none of us can be surprised; after all, the subject of inter-human relations is inexhaustible.  This subject has come up for me this week via two completely unrelated circumstances.  The first is through my daughter.  The second is through the relationship of a friend and her son…and me.  First I will tell you the story of my daughter.

As I have previously written, Esther is in college.  Her math professor happens to have also been my math professor.  He and I got to know each other on a personal level because I required much assistance to gain the “A” grade for all three of the math classes I took while under his tutelage.  In addition to him being an astute professor of mathematics, he is a kind man and our personal lives crossed at a couple of proverbial intersections (stated only to avert the perversion of thought that might try to infiltrate the connection).  At any rate, the point of the aforementioned rhetoric is to simply overstate that he and I gained a knowledge of each other and of our families.  In fact, he has known Esther since she was twelve…almost five years now.  So the other day, when upon my advice she met him at his office for his amazing tutorial guidance, it was no surprise that he suggested to her to ask me for assistance on any and all of the subject matter in which she struggled.  His statement, as retold to me by her, went like this:  “Why don’t you ask your mom for help.  She is a really good teacher and was an excellent student in Algebra.”  And to this piece of advice, or suggestion rather, she said (again as retold to me by her): “NO WAY!!  My mom and I don’t mix well together in math…no how, no way!”  And you know what?  She is telling the truth!  We most certainly do NOT mix well when it comes to mathematics.  We do, however, get along fine while shopping.  Shopping for clothes, shopping for shoes, shopping for accessories–just plain old shopping.

Now onto the second scenario…

I have a good friend, a few hundred miles away, who has an elementary aged son who struggles with literacy.  Well on Sunday he called me and asked if we could have a Skype session (internet video phone call, for those of you who are unfamiliar with Skype) for no other reason than it is something fun to do.  So while we were chatting away about nothing important, and mostly because I was trying to keep the interest flowing, I asked if he would like me to read a book to him.  With immediate reluctance he questioned, “What book?”  I suggested Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (because it was within a reasonable reach).  It just so happened to be a favorite of his, therefore he answered, “yes.”  I read the book to him and after I finished he tucked himself into bed and we signed off with a “goodnight”.  Monday night I had another Skype call from my young friend.  Only this time HE had something to read to me.  He read me two short stories and allowed me to read another from my shelf.  Our next “telephone” date is set for tomorrow night.  And it honestly cannot come too soon.

My girl friend and I spoke the next day and she said her son has, since our first reading, Skyped with an older cousin and read to her as well.  My friend tells me this interest in reading is something of a phenomenon for her son.  She even accused me of having used magic on him because she says he normally does not like to read out loud, nor does he like to be read to.  And now he is excited about both…via Skype.  And all of this praise comes simultaneous to my daughter balking at the suggestion of utilizing me as a mathematical resource.  Funny.  Ironic and funny.

Yet isn’t that just the way of life under “normal” familial conditions (I use quotes on normal as I’m not quite sure what normal truly means.  Normal in my life seems to equate with chaos.  Controlled chaos, but chaos just the same.)?   I mean here I am able to help my daughter with her difficulties in math, yet she is adamantly opposed to working with me.  And my girlfriend, more educated than I, is definitely capable of reading and being read to, though her young son is reluctant to utilize her literary skills.

Children, and the business of raising them, is funny stuff!  And I am thankful that we help each other along the way.  To invest, to the degree that is required, can be quite the daunting task when going at it alone.  Which is why we need to ‘pitch-hit’ for one another during the times our ‘ever so wise’ children foolishly reject our skill sets.  I actually think the Chilean poet, Gabriela Mistral, says it best in her poem titled, “Su nombre es hoy” (“His Name is Today”).  Written in Spanish, the writing implores its readers to comprehend that the child who is at the crux of growth and development is not to be neglected.  He or she is to be invested in.  She states that to abandon the child is akin to keeping from them the fountain of life.  She encourages us to know that the many material “needs” we have can wait, but the child cannot.  And she finishes the piece by rhetorically asking, “how can we tell him tomorrow, when his name is Today.”

I am thankful for my young Skyping friend.  He has helped me remember that though my daughter rejects my tutorial assistance, there is another whose investment in her life is of great value and importance within that realm.  Which is how I hope my friend feels about me and her son’s new passion to read.

Su nombre es hoy

Nosotros somos culpables
de muchos errores y muchas faltas,
pero nuestro peor crimen
es el abandono de los niños
negándoles la fuente de la vida.

Muchas de las cosas
que nosotros necesitamos
pueden esperar, los niños no pueden,
ahora es el momento,
sus huesos están en formación,
su sangre también lo está
y sus sentidos
se están desarrollando,
a él nosotros no podemos contestarle
mañana,
su nombre es hoy.

-Gabriela Mistral

Brock

A Skype “goodnight”

%d bloggers like this: