Letter to the Editor (of many moons ago)

Opening Pandora's Box

This post is another request from a reader, it’s something that I have thought about doing for a while so I was happy to fulfil the request. I am going to write a letter to my younger self. Now as someone who is still considered young I wasn’t sure of what Ezra to write to, so I’ve decided to write to three Ezras. These Ezras represent the points in my life that were most foundational. So I will be writing to Ezra right after Toby was born (so I was 2.5 years old), Ezra right before starting kindergarten, and right before starting high school. Don’t get me wrong, I could write to an Ezra from every year of my life, since there are always great things that I could share, but for the sake of time, I’ll just write to these three. Enjoy.

 

Dear Ezra of June 30 1995…

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Letter to My Younger Self by Michelle Holland

           
Dear eleven-year old me,
At eleven, you are unchained, loud.  I loved your long lectures on God and the beauty of spiders that you gave from the crook of the old apple tree on the hill behind the house, expounding to the sky and leaves.  No audience.  And the books you wrote created a whole bookcase of stapled-together stories with illustrated, construction-paper covers.  No workshops, no instructions.  You didn’t need a publisher, or an online presence.  Let me return to follow the creek with you, that bordered our property, over the fence to the cow fields and a forested lot where the small stream curved into an oblivion you never pursued.
Soon enough you will realize that hand-me-downs from your cousins, no matter how well they fit, and how brilliant the colors of old hip-slung jeans were, they set you apart from those other girls who shopped for clothes, and had bedrooms fringed with puffy pink and posters of Davey Jones and Donny Osmond on the walls. 
Cherish that old leather baseball glove that you share with your brothers, the one always behind the radiator, where you dig it out, grab a bat from the porch, and take off for Hoag’s field in late spring to play pick-up baseball with the older kids.  Because you field well, and don’t flinch at pitches, you are always picked to play on one team or the other.  At eleven, you take this for granted, and just play. 
Stay eleven.  Somehow.  You can write poetry, love songs, and sing them to an audience of birds.  And at eleven, you don’t know your father is an alcoholic; you don’t know that it will take twenty years for your parents to pay off your grandmother’s hospital bills; you don’t know that the gardens that always need weeding, grow the food that your parents will not have to spend money on at the grocery store, and you don’t know that you are poor, or that it matters.
At eleven, the days you spend at your Aunt Dot’s camp with your cousins is magic.  There are inner tubes to float on, hotdogs and chips and potato salad and your Mimére’s chocolate cake.  Later on you will hear your aunts and uncles say that your parents don’t have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of.  All you know is that a clean pair of underwear and an undershirt is all you need to call a bathing suit, and the ability to dog paddle, and you, too, can run and leap off the dock trying to land as close to your thrown inner tube as possible. 
At eleven you can be oblivious.  The joy you feel is unadulterated and unselfconscious.  You kept that for me.  Bottled up like the glow worms that I know you collect in a jar, then let go all at once into the darkness.  You did that for me.  Thank you.

A Recent Visit to the D.H. Lawrence Shrine in San Cristobal, New Mexico

Eagle in New Mexico
by D.H. Lawrence
 
Towards the sun, towards the south-west
A scorched breast.
A scorched breast, breasting the sun like an answer,
Like a retort.
An eagle at the top of a low cedar-bush
On the sage-ash desert
Reflecting the scorch of the sun from his breast ;
Eagle, with the sickle dripping darkly above.

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Lawrence actually spent very little time here, although we’d like to claim him as our own.

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He and Frieda had separate rooms in life and in death:

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The tree by his cabin inspired Georgia O’Keeffe’s “Lawrence Tree” painting.

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I don’t particularly associate Lawrence with cats, but a friendly little sphinx seems to guard his grave.

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Letter To My Younger Self by Karla Linn Merrifield

Dear Karla Linn:
 
I have a portrait of you, the poet as a young girl, carved in my memory like the scars from Daddy’s belt buckle on your back and thighs because you were to him:
 
Cursed at birth, left-handed. Cursed again in second grade, girl-child of Eve’s serpent, mirror-writing cursive messages as backward runes: .ekanS si eman yM.  Satan’s words, sinister, sinful, sin-filled, said the Father, who twine-+bound your hands to stop the Crayola, the #2 Ticonderoga pencil, the Parker ballpoint pen.
 
When the curse— Eve’s bloody punishment—came on at age twelve, curvaceousness ensued, then boys, then further, harsher punishments to purify the evil spawn of Daddy’s loins.
 
Trust me. You will survive.
 
Exorcised of Lucifer and related nonsense, you will at sixty-three still be forward-writing Siren’s words to fill Dear Diary, one of more than three hundred journals over your fifty-two years, to rival Anais Nin and William Heyen in volume, every single word de la main sinistre.
 
Proof you are ever traveling into the cymae of being, kissing away the curses on back roads to the curve of Time.
 

Flying Crippled: Inadvertent Adventures in my World of Invisible Disability

Disabled Traveler

Earlier this summer, my husband Rich and I drove across country. It was a wonderful experience, one I thought I’d never have. Long periods of sitting really spike my already chronic pain level. But if there is anyone who knows how to “accommodate” me, it’s Rich. He made it fun, he made it easy, and I’ll take some credit myself—for asking bluntly for what I needed (to be active—driving, walking—for only 2/3 of each day and then to rest).
Part of what made it doable was that while Rich drove back, I flew. Ostensibly quicker, and less crippling. Ha ha. I should have driven.
My first problem was immediate—I was flying from Baltimore to Boston. I was happy to get pre-boarded on a flight without assigned seats. I boarded, left my cane on my seat, and went to the back bathroom.
Then this ensued.
Stewardess: Why didn’t you use the bathroom before you got on the plane?
Frankly, I was stunned, but I said: I’m disabled, my cane is on my seat, in BWI this seemed easier. I’m sorry, but is the bathroom available?
Stewardess: Where are you sitting?
I gesture, Behind the wing.
Stewardess: Why didn’t you use the bathroom up front?
I stared at her.
Stewardess: Well, this is just getting too complicated.
Me: I agree!
Stewardess: You can use the bathroom.

No sooner did I shut the door, than I found myself sobbing. I’d done everything I could to take care of myself and inconvenience no one, and it wasn’t working.

Do some people—even service professionals—dislike, scorn, or fear me because I’m disabled? I’m thinking: yes. What I feel in terms of prejudice is of course the assumption that I’m able bodied. But it’s more than that. My disability—made visible by the cane—seems to make people REACT—with pity, or negativity, with unwanted advice, with dislike or even sadism.
I want to say: LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE. My problem is not yours—it’s mine—and if you’d comply with the law and common sense we’ll be fine. Got it?

I got to Boston. A few days later, I flew to Dallas. Then, in a that-fast-bit-is-impossible afternoon, I was on a flight to Santa Fe that got delayed twice, finally cancelled.

The gate agent was re-booking us…a long line.
“Can you accommodate me?” I gestured to my cane.
“You can sit and wait until everyone is done,” he said.
Of course I was not asking that. I was asking—can you hold my spot in line? But he wouldn’t.

People suggest a wheelchair in airports, and it may come to that, but I don’t want one. I’m so grateful I can walk—it takes hours of PT and more each week. And walking helps as a break from sitting. Why should I be less mobile just because others can’t deal with a woman on a cane? Is it either wheelchair or trouble?

I wrote a letter of complaint about the Baltimore bathroom fiasco. My request: don’t ask people why they need the bathroom. I started thinking about it—infection, pregnancy, miscarriage, ostomies, cancer, autoimmune disease and more may be implicated. Did the stewardess really want to hear an answer like that? Travel sites also stress using the airplane bathroom as little as possible. Well, it’s there for a reason.

I got sort of an apology, and a $50 travel voucher. Better than nothing.

Jaime Sabines Translated by Claudia Hagadus Long

The moon can be taken by teaspoonfuls,
Or in pill form every two hours

It’s useful as a sleeping pill or a sedative

And soothes those drunk on philosophy

A sliver of moon in your pocket is a better charm than a rabbit’s foot

It can help you find your beloved, helps you be rich without anyone knowing
And keeps the doctor away. You can give it to children for dessert when they
won’t go to sleep
And a couple of drops in an old man’s eyes help him die in peace.
Put a tender leaf of moon under your pillow
And you’ll see what you should see.

Always carry a little jar of moon air for when you’re drowning
And give the moon key to the prisoner and the disenchanted.
For those condemned to death

And for those condemned to life
There’s no greater solace than the moon

Given in precise and controlled doses.


Jaime Sabines

a cucharadas

o como una cápsula cada dos horas.
Es buena como hipnótico y sedante

y también alivia
a los que se han intoxicado de filosofía.

Un pedazo de luna en el bolsillo
es mejor amuleto que la pata de conejo:
sirve para encontrar a quien se ama,

para ser rico sin que lo sepa nadie

y para alejar a los médicos y las clínicas.
Se puede dar de postre a los niños
cuando no se han dormido,

y unas gotas de luna en los ojos de los ancianos

ayudan a bien morir.

Pon una hoja tierna de la luna
debajo de tu almohada
y mirarás lo que quieras ver.

Lleva siempre un frasquito del aire de la luna
para cuando te ahogues,

y dale la llave de la luna

a los presos y a los desencantados.
Para los condenados a muerte

y para los condenados a vida

no hay mejor estimulante que la luna

en dosis precisas y controladas.