She is brassy and bossy and sometimes sassy. She won’t use the oven, doesn’t own a cell phone and loves her iPad because it lets her see her favorite puppies every day. She is hip and trendy and flashy with her baubles. She is a perfectionist, a traditionalist and a closet feminist. She is everything I want to be when I grow old.
I hear the tears in her voice and the awful squeak she makes over the phone when she inhales and I am concerned. I know my dear friend is hurting. The last time I saw her cry was when her mother passed away. I was there for that so it was no surprise that she called me now, in this moment of pain.
Every time we talk on the phone, it sounds as though I am yelling at her. I am - she is extremely hard of hearing. This time is no different. My saving grace is that she is well aware of her impairment and she is never offended. I yell into the phone that I will come and see what she needs; she wheezes into the phone that she just wants to let someone know of her condition. She is stubborn and fearful that no one will find her for days if she passes away. She is seventy-two years old and lives alone.
I yell some reassurances that, to me, sound like commands and she calms down a bit. She realizes we need to do something to assuage her pain, whatever that might be. She decides to tough it out – her niece will come by the next day to check on her. I am thirty-five miles away. Her niece is farther.
I insist rather loudly that I need to take her to the emergency room; she insists that she just wanted someone to know. My dear, old friend is fiercely independent and I am torn. I can be her friend and listen to her painful squeaks and wheezes on the phone or I can be her keeper and take her to the doctor. In a short silence broken by another squeak, we decide we’re better friends than sister’s keepers.
She carelessly lies to me about feeling so much better after our yell and I carefully keep her lie in my heart. It’s her way of thanking me and apologizing for making me worry. I will take the day off of work and take her to see her doctor. I will tell my boss she is my aunt. I tell everyone she is my aunt. It’s my way of loving her.
These hats are like nothing I’ve ever known. They start out with a special kind of yarn. The yarn is usually made out of a string of six words that virtual strangers sometimes drop onto this web that’s been woven together by some sort of stellar connection I don’t quite understand.
The yarn is usually colored in hope or despair as the words that are used to make it are sheared from the soul. Then, while the yarn spinner quietly unravels the knots in his spirit, this lady gets busy with a few tugs at the raw fabric that is dropped. Sometimes the yarn is already drawn and twisted, but she gathers it to her heart anyway to see how she can rework it.
I don’t know what magic she uses to create her beautiful skeins. Maybe it is just her essence. I can only imagine that she possesses a kind of wonderful power – because when she transforms your yarn into your hat she’s changed your story.
And when you wear one of her hats, you feel as though she has laid her hands upon your head to heal you.
Imagine with me what it would be like to walk into a library in an era without digital. An era when the wooden shelves and musty paper give the words printed on them their own kind of smell. Among the rows and rows of titles are authors, A. Rand, C. Palahniuk. Rand’s books are thick and weighty and so are the ideas inside of them. It’s really almost too much to go through an entire reading to find the kernel of wisdom she meant to convey with all those words. And then there are Palahniuk’s books - who is he anyway? Oh that guy. His stuff is kind of weird, and we’re pretty confident he doesn’t have a huge audience. We’re sure there will never even be a book club group or anything about his work.
Now imagine with me that there are curtains at the tops of each one of the shelves, drawn discreetly when not in use. I’m going to draw the curtains over Rand and Palahniuk because I don’t want us to be distracted on our way to the easy reading section of the library. That is the section that smells polite and comfortable. It’s almost like old school week there- everyone in this section of the library has already figured out the rules, found their favorite author and keeps coming back for more. We smile knowingly and nod in familiarity as we discuss what everyone else is talking about.
I leave you to your compatriots for a moment. I run back to Rand and Palahniuk with my pen light and duck under the curtain. I snatch one of the lighter of their books – it will be easier to squeeze it in between the popular titles when I re-shelve it incorrectly in the easy reading section. Maybe one of us will give it try if it doesn’t look so overwhelming.
I stand at the edge, watching the group expectantly, anxiously. I am sure that the one of you will pull the book I quickly shoved onto the random shelf at eye level – Palahniuk as it turns out.
And I am not disappointed. One of you has found it. My heart is racing as I watch you flip it over backwards and then open the book to the middle and back to the front cover again.
My heart is broken when I see that you grimace and then throw Palahniuk haphazardly onto the cart designated for books to be re-shelved.
And it will be a bit longer. I've finally committed myself to writing the novel I've been futzing around with for over a year. I'm all futzed up and out. So rather than amuse or distract myself with witty blurbs or assays, I'm going to put on my crash helmet and battle the very beast I unleashed. Once I can claim victory, I'll go back to being witty...or Lucy.
"The tail is the rear part of an animal," I explained as concisely as I could to the 9 year old at the kitchen table while he sat with his pen poised above his notebook.
"No, Mom. That's the definition of 'dude'. What I need to know is the definition of the other 'tale', the homonym for t-a-i-l."
Pen poised in unconscious imitation and mouth dropped open in exasperation, I think, "Good lord, the child corrects my simplicity, knows the actual meaning of 'dude' and grasps the concept of homonyms, yet doesn't know the definition of tale?!"
I am about to impatiently spew these thoughts, (as we are want to do at my kitchen table) and the little bugger beats me to the punch.
"Mom, I just need to paraphrase the deeper concept of the 'story' with a beginning, middle and end so that my teacher understands it better. She's been having a terrible time getting it across to the rest of the class."
He wanted to name me Tuesday. But for the grace of the Fates or the ounce of common sense my mother managed to preserve, she decided to make it my middle name.
No, it was not because I was born on a Tuesday. I was actually born on a Thursday. No, it was not because his favorite actress was Tuesday Weld. Although he was certainly old enough for that to be possible. No, my father wanted to name me Tuesday because it was his lucky day.
No, Tuesday was not the day he met my mother, nor was it the day on which I was conceived. Neither was it the day he received the good news of my impending arrival. My father wanted to name me Tuesday because that was the day he was usually released from prison - each time he was released. He always used to say, "Third time's the charm, but thirteen and Tuesdays are always lucky." He never did mention which day normally found him arrested. But I do have a sister who falls down a lot. Her middle name is Friday.
"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrecorded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."
-- Calvin Coolidge