Sunday, October 18, 2009

Contain-her Art

Container Art. Containment Art. Whatever it is, the symbolism is clear. I've been collecting containers, all shapes and sizes, for a very long time.

See the little wooden box, next to the pig? It was the first. My bio dad made it, in his garage workshop, in a suburb of Austin, Texas. He gave it to me when I was seven (ish). An apology-gift that arrived while I was dusting the lion's feet. He bent down, peered under the dining room table and held it out in his hand. A silent offering, with the hint of an entreating look.

I've been holding onto that box for thirty years. It still contains his apology, and his touch.

So, finally, I understand that it's time to unpack all of the bits and pieces that I've been lugging around, literally, and fit them to the appropriate container. Containers that represent experiences, people, places, families. Containers that represent different chapters in my life. Examining what I've held onto, my version of a record, will surely reveal some of what I'm supposed to be writing.

writing shoes...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Rituals for Writing- Watch out Mister Rogers

A celebration is in order. I've known for a long time now that I need an opening and closing ritual for writing. Something to get me started, and something to bring me back. Lighting a candle is nice, but somehow, for writing Foster Princess, it's not enough. Not complicated enough or meaningful enough. So, I realized today that I do have a ritual. It started just yesterday, but when the shoe fits... call it a ritual.

I have this fabulous pair of sling-back, mildly-platform, tasteful-but-sassy, copper colored shoes. A buckle at the toe, compliments of Timeri. And I slipped them on yesterday, while feeling lonely, and needing to settle down and write. Hans had taken the boys to the rec center for a swim- leaving me 'to work'. Anyway, I slipped them on, and immediately I realized that I had to prop them up on my desk, and take a picture.

I've been telling my sweet Hans that I wear heels, per his request, but I don't think he believes me, and so, photographic proof was in order. I left that picture as last taken on the camera, hoping he would pick it up and notice, but he didn't. So later, I showed it to him. He approved.

So, this morning, the shoes beckoned. They were sitting beside my uncomfortable, and terribly un-ergonomic work station, in their own coppery glow. I sat down and slipped them on. Propped my feet up and snapped a picture-with my cell phone this time, and sent it to Hans. Voila. Writing has begun.

Watch out Mister Rogers. I love a comfy sweater, and slippers too, but somehow, for now, only heels will do.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

first day of residential treatment

This is a sample of some older material that I'm organizing into the new structure of Foster Princess. It needs lots of work, but what doesn't?

First Day
Corina was bald. Not chemo-patient bald, but male-pattern-baldness-bald; as though a tidy, even line was drawn around her skull, temple to temple, separating shiny, tan skin from thick, brown hair. She looked like miniature monk in training, minus the brown robe. Her dark lashless eyes looked me over and then away as I brought my bags into the room and set them on the bed. She was dressed in a nightgown, a baggy, long-sleeved purple thing and laceless fake Keds, washed and bleached so many times the rubber had separated from canvass, in more places that not. The pale yellow room smelled of Windex and musty feet.

Corina was my first roommate at Settlement Club Home, a residential treatment facility for kids, ages ten to seventeen. The day I arrived, Nelson Cottage was on shutdown. Shutdown is group punishment for a variety of bad behaviors, and none of the residents are exempt, not even the new ones. Shutdown means no one is allowed to talk, listen to music, leave their half of the bed room, or wear clothes tempting enough to run away in. You eat meals in your room and ask permission to use the restroom. Excluding books, all of your possessions are locked away. Reading and school work are allowed. Therapy is allowed. Staring at walls and sleeping are also allowed. For those who don't like to read, or silently plot escape, it's a boredom fest.

With my back to Corina, I stripped down to bra and panties and pulled a nightgown over my head. She was looking at me again; evaluating me and the clothes now spilling out of my bag. I finished changing and then we watched as my things were locked into a closet. The click of the dead bolt, the jingle of keys. Two locked closets, side by side. One full length mirror bolted to the wall. Twin beds in opposite corners, two desks and two short book shelves back to back, dividing the room. One narrow shaft of light illuminating my new home.

Alone with Corina, I sat on the edge of my bed, gently bounced and then pulled back the covers. If I fall asleep, maybe I'll wake up some place else. As my head hit the lone, flat pillow, a piercing screech snapped me back up.

“Corina! No talking allowed! You know that,” yelled a voice from down the hall.

That was talking? I looked over at Corina, her shoulders and head visible above the desk. Her naked eyes blinked back at me, staring.

There she is, my new roommate. A skinny, bald bird in this new freak zoo.
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