Friday, October 13, 2017

But That's Not How Mom Did It!

For the bulk of my upbringing, this was officially a garbage disposal scraper. It sat on the back of the sink and was used for the sole purpose of pushing unpleasantries to their demise in the destructive drain down under.

Ours was Tupperware, tinged a dingy cream color, and battle scarred with bite marks from countless close encounters with the blades below. My mother had ordered it out of peer pressure at a party, ultimately relenting because it was actually an affordable item that appealed both in price and potential purpose.

With five children, she sought to ensure the security of all fifty fingers. So this utensil was used to add distance to the drain, while still keeping us responsible for our refuse as we cleared our plates and placed them in the dishwasher.

And so it sat on the sink, without challenge, diligently doing its designated duty for close to a decade.

Until, I was startled out of my senses during seventh grade home ec when my kitchen partner plunged such a paddle into our imitation Orange Julius before I could stop her and proceeded to scrape out every last scrap before swallowing a huge swig!

Nausea thrust through my throat in a reflex so severe, I was certain I would soon be in need of that very garbage disposal scraper to clean up the surge that was sure to spew forth at any second.

I swallowed hard galvanizing against my gag as this girl slipped a straw into my glass and slid it before me. She wasn’t a close friend, so I didn’t want to cause any embarrassment, but there was no way I was drinking that disgusting, septic sludge!

I looked around for a way out and was shocked to see everyone, at every station, scraping and slurping away as if what they were doing was perfectly sanitary.

So I stared down at the potentially infectious straw as my teacher approached.
“Is everything okay?”
I was the only one not delightfully downing our class’s concoction.

So I stepped aside and spoke. Recounting in full detail, the horror of how the whole lot of them had dipped the disposal scrapers into their desserts. And then with great satisfaction, slurped until their straws rattled on the remnants.

Suddenly, amusement slipped across her smile as she secretly shared the utensil’s true title and intent.

A rubber spatula.

Imagine that! I had only seen it one way, my entire life, up to that point. Limited by my personal perceptions, experience and upbringing. What my mother alone had lead me to believe, about this one particular thing.

Did that eliminate every other good thing she taught me in our time together in the kitchen? No. Did it destroy the memories of standing at the counter, hip high to her, laughing and loving and learning as I “helped?” No.

Does it mean that a rubber spatula can never be anything more than a garbage disposal scraper and I have to fight anybody who tells me otherwise in an effort to defend my mother’s honor? No! Of course not! Don’t be ridiculous!

People are imperfect, no matter how loving. And the things that they teach us are as well. Sometimes, just wrong. And sometimes, just flat out nasty. And that can be hard to accept. But we have to. Especially the things that are far larger than anything we can hold in our hand. Because it is in our hands. All of it. And it’s up to us to test and re-examine all that we have been taught both on purpose and as in some cases, inadvertently.

So today when I baked, I used the rubber spatula, scraping the sides of the bowl and smoothing the batter into the Bundt pan because it’s a rubber spatula. That’s what it really is and that’s what it’s really for, regardless of whatever else I may have heard. I don’t use it on my dirty disposal. Never have. I took what I learned, moved forward, and made something pretty sweet with it.

And I still love my mother, just the same. Because she’s lovable. She’s done a lot of great things in her lifetime. Accomplished so much. And loved me until I can never forget it. That’s her legacy.

But if in order to ensure your legacy, I have to dig around in the dregs, dabbing at discards and slopping through sewage in search of something to salvage before it all disappears down the drain…anything not absolutely awful…if that’s all that’s left to remember you by…then…well…to put it mildly…forget you.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

No One Belongs Here More Than You...Except Maybe These Two Women

No one belongs here more than you…except maybe these two women.

They were quite insistent that they did, because they clung to the crease inside the cover, so they must. But exactly why, I’m not sure.

Neither one is the author, Miranda July. I looked her up. And this is definitely not her. And they are also not the owners of the used bookstore in Reno, where this was purchased, so far as I can tell.

I wonder what exactly it was about this particular book and these particular people that necessitated their placement here. And why and where and when are they?

It can’t have been recent, because it’s an actual developed photo, from actual developed film. Something you can hold in your hands in a way digital denies.

The book was published 10 years ago, and a lot has happened since then. I wonder what has happened to them. These two smiling women, one with hair shorn short, embraced by the other, outdoors as the leaves change and the seasons slip towards winter.

Are they still within arm’s length or is there a distance now?

There’s no inscription. No description. No dedication to a friendship penned on the pages of prose or on the picture itself. Just a colorful moment of closeness captured by Kodack, that these people were evidently pleased with and likely had no idea would pass out into the world where it would set minds to wondering.

Wondering what exactly they're doing there?

And more so...

Why do I even care?

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Weight Of It All

I don’t carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. I carry it on my stomach…and hips and boobs and backside.

In a time where everything matters too much, I have inadvertently ignored the fact that everything I eat matters too.

I’ve swallowed my feelings along with the flavors that force them down fastest. Not bad things or unhealthy things, just too many things. Because there have been entirely too many things out of control in our current climate.

Things that I’m having difficulty digesting. Things that just don’t sit well in my gut. Things that leave me feeling hungry for a better world and so I have filled that emptiness with whatever is at my fingertips.

I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew. I have gnashed and gnawed, clinching whatever was in my jaw with each new disastrous development.

And it’s been hard to look away from the drama unfolding before our eyes and put down the popcorn. It’s been proven we eat more when watching anxiety producing plots. We seek to satiate the scare. Horror stories sell snacks. And our plot has definitely thickened, along with my waistline. Politics, gunmen, sexists, insurance, assault, wages, wars, racists, rape, fascists, flags, fear, fires, hacking, hurricanes and hate. Endless, heaping helpings of hate.

And it’s become too much, the weight of it all. Mine included.

And instead of going for a run, I just want to run away, exercising nothing but my right to solitude and sorbet.

But there’s so much of it. So very much right now, that I just can’t get away from it…much like my burgeoning backside.

At this very moment ash is falling from the sky into my driveway. And each fluttering flake was once a vital part of someone or something’s life. It’s literally touching me. As well it should.

Without eating me alive.

So I’m pushing back my plate…and everything on it, if only for today. And going for a walk, somewhere indoors because the air quality is just too poor outside.

And it doesn’t mean I don’t care. I do. Very much.

But it’s okay to care for me too.

Otherwise, I won’t be able to do anything about the things I can indeed do something about.

And maybe, eventually, I’ll return to being able to actually enjoy and savor those occasional times of solitude and sorbet. Rather than just swallowing them down to get by.

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Friday, October 6, 2017

Take My Money...Please!

Our school is having a fundraiser, would you be interested in participating?

Of course, would $20 be okay?

Well actually, we’re selling this wrapping paper/frozen food/candy bar/useless-mass-produced-plastic…

Oh, that’s okay. I don’t really need that. I would prefer to just donate the money.

But you can’t do that.

Why not?

Because we’re selling this wrapping paper/frozen food/candy bar/usless-mass-produced-plastic-needed-by-no-one-novelty-that-will-clutter-your-closet-until-you-foist-it-on-someone-else-guised-as-a-gift…

Really, it’s okay. I’d rather just give the money to your school.

But you can’t do that…
Because we’re selling this wrapping paper/frozen food/candy bar/usless-mass-produced-plastic-needed-by-no-one-novelty-that-will-clutter-your-closet-until-you-foist-it-on-someone-else-guised-as-a-gift-that-I-have-to-sell-2,000-of-to-get-a-$10-trinket-or-face-scholastic-shame-and-scorn…

What if I just give you $10 and donate the other $10 to the school on your behalf?

But you can’t…
Because we’re selling this wrapping paper/frozen food/candy bar/usless-mass-produced-plastic-needed-by-no-one-novelty-that-will-clutter-your-closet-until-you-foist-it-on-someone-else-guised-as-a-gift-that-I-have-to-sell-2,000-of-to-get-a-$10-trinket-or-face-scholastic-shame-and-scorn-because-for-every-million-dollars-of-product-we-push-Philanthropic-Frauds-And-School-Scammers-will-donate-.000002%-and-put-the-rest-in-their-pockets-instead-of-into-school-programs…

But $10 is 50% of $20 isn’t it?

I don’t know.

Why not?

Because we’re selling this wrapping paper/frozen food/candy bar/usless-mass-produced-plastic-needed-by-no-one-novelty-that-will-clutter-your-closet-until-you-foist-it-on-someone-else-guised-as-a-gift-that-I-have-to-sell-2,000-of-to-get-a-$10-trinket-or-face-scholastic-shame-and-scorn-because-for-every-million-dollars-of-product-we-push-Philanthropic-Frauds-And-School-Scammers-will-donate-.000002%-and-put-the-rest-in-their-pockets-instead-of-into-school-programs-like-basic-math-that-help-us-actually-understand-the-consequenses-of-cutting-funding-so-far-we’re-forced-to-fundraise-for-our-futures-in-the-first-place.

And after all of that, the school can’t just take my money?



Because we’re selling this…

Hey kid, if I just give you this $20, will you go away?

Yeah, but I’m not sure if I can make change.

I’m beginning to wonder if any of us can.

follow me on Instagram and twitter @TheLauraBecker

Monday, October 2, 2017

These Are The Times In Which We Live

These are the times in which we live.

Times we did not choose, but rather chose us. Escalated into existence by yesterday’s choices, chosen by those who lobbied for them. Owned them. Because majority did not rule. Money did. And sadly, today’s tragedy will again become tomorrow’s cataclysmic cash cow despite the ratings won, ribbons worn and rallies walked.

The marketing machines and partisan platforms will wedge into our wounds opening wider the divide along with our wallets as we dole out dollars not in charity but fear. Despairing over our destiny, where we long for the dread of days gone by. Buying in and selling out as we stockpile solutions to never be seen, you know, until it happens again.

And heads will talk and channels flip
And we’ll scroll and like and share.
And we’ll emote with emojis because we care
And offer our thoughts and prayers.

Calamity will be commoditized and our mourning monetized as we secure for ourselves that which signals our solidarity and sympathies. Our hearts will bleed for victims, but very little of that blood will actually be deposited into banks.

And we’ll celebrate the assailant by repeating evil’s name. Invoking it over and over as we boil down the beloved to a tasteless tally boldly emblazoned across the bottom of our screens. Crassly comparing collateral. And we’ll jump to conclusions rather than the defense of others. And demand answers over change.

We’ll stare at our phones in disbelief, in the middle of our writing rants, as texts trickle in that our very loved ones are on lockdown from reports of an active shooter. (Yes, in all truthfulness, this happened.) Then rejoice in grateful relief that no one was injured and then catch ourselves as our hearts sink knowing that there are those elsewhere who did not receive this same news today.

And we’ll hug our own and give thanks and say, “But for the grace of God go I.” Fully forgetting that God’s grace is with those who are suffering as well. We did nothing to earn ours over theirs. Our goodness did not give us immunity.

Nor does our self-perceived goodness give any of us the go ahead to parcel out platitudes to those in gut-wrenching grief, drawing focus to our feelings because after all, we were affected in some way too weren’t we?

Because these are the times in which we live. Right now.

But tomorrow has not come. Yet. Though it appears to promise to do so. And it is not set into certainty that it will go exactly this way…again. Forever on a looping cycle of cynicism over the tragedies of todays like this today.

These are the times in which we live. And though we did not choose them, they chose us. And we choose what we do in them. And if and how tomorrow will be any different.

Because time measures change. And these times, they are a changin’. Exactly how, is our choice.

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

This Little Light Of Mine, I'm Gonna...Well, I'm Not Sure What The Hell I'm Gonna Do!

This Little Light of Mine, I’m Gonna Let it Shine…but only in the way that everyone in my pew agrees with.

This Little Light of Mine, I’m Gonna Let It Shine…until the electric bill gets too high. I don’t want it to actually cost me anything.

This Little Light of Mine, I’m Gonna…replace it with an LED. This whole shining thing just takes too much energy.

Let It Shine! Let It Shine! Let It…glow lightly, but only for ambiance and virtue signaling.

Hide It Under a Bushel? N…Well, not all of the time, only when someone’s around who might not like it.

Hide It Under a Bushel? NO!...Definitely not! But I will do my best to obstruct any other bright light being shown on problems that do not directly affect me personally.

Hide It Under a Bushel? N…well maybe under a decorative shade so it’s not so harsh and can be focused directionally only on the darkness that I want dispelled.

Let It Shine! Let It Shine! Let It…be blocked just enough to cast lots of questionable shadows where my darkest fears and hurts can flourish.

Won’t Let Satan Blow It Out…I’ll completely insulate it behind hurricane glass cut off from the outside world so it will never be challenged by the winds of change.

Won’t Let Satan Blow It Out…but I’ll huff and puff until I have extinguished another’s light with all of the hot air rolling from my mouth talking when I should be listening.

Won’t let Satan blow it out…I’ll just do it myself. What the hell’s the point anyway?

Let It Shine! Let It Shine! Let It…
Let It…
Let It.
Not “cause it.” Or “make it.” Or “demand it.”
And this little light? It’s mine. 
I have been entrusted with it. To care for it. To use it. 
And if it goes out, which it might.
Reignite that fire!
A single spark can go a long way when the light is passed and shared and encouraged.

This Little Light of Mine…Is not the only one. Nor should it ever be.

This Little Light of Mine…Didn’t start with me. Nor should it end with me.

This Little Light of Mine…Goes wherever it will. And it will. We just have to…let it.

Let It Shine! Let It Shine! Let It Shine!

Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @TheLauraBecker