OHEY AHOY AND STUFF.
Some of you saw that I tweeted about posting a series of flashes today.
Some of you got really excited about that.
(That was swell of ya.)
But I lied.
I’ll post that next week, because before I show you what I’m doing this year, I thought maybe I’d show you the best from last year. Really, we’re still getting to know each other. It’s only like our third date.
Don’t get handsy.
If you’re local, you’ve maybe heard me read this story. I opened for Jeremy Bauer and Tyler Gobble back in November.
Also! It’s being printed in this year’s edition of The Broken Plate, and that launches March 23 and 24 during the In Print Festival.
Arts & Journalism Building, room 175.
IN PRINT FESTIVAL IS TOTALLY RAD. So let’s post some links for that.
The panel this year is Paul Killebrew (author of Flowers), Tina May Hall (The Physics of Imaginary Objects), Deb Guartney (author of Live Through This), and the editors of Artifice Magazine.
Each of the authors reads and talks a little bit about their book, being a writer, etc. The Broken Plate staff does a great job of setting the whole thing up—they’ve done interviews, those will be in the edition of the Broken Plate that comes out THAT NIGHT. I think it’s all free, and they give out free copies of The Broken Plate to the audience. It’s basically Oparah’s favorite things episode, but brainy.
Okay, read this now. It’s called “A Child’s Story.” Also, have yourself a merry little Thursday. It’s sunny out there.
My grandmother once handed me a roll of masking tape and a marker and said, “Linds, take a look around the house. Anything you want, take a piece of tape and stick your name to the bottom of it. I don’t want you to have to fight anyone to get the things you want.”
I was twelve years old, so I stuck my name on a TV, a train set, and a two-liter bottle of soda. My family chuckled and it became one of those stories told during Christmas dinner. Retold at Easter brunch. By the time my hair grew long and my teeth had braces, I had heard the story so many times that I could chime in and then ask for more soda. Across the table, my grandmother’s hair had thinned into nothing, and it wasn’t until she started sneaking into the pantry to use her inhaler that I understood. The tape is for after. The tape is because people die.
I have seven letters in my name and I am afraid to put them on the bottom of anything because it feels like a tongue flapping Go ahead and take her. But if I could, I’d claim the frog. It’s ceramic. Yellow with white spots. It sits by the sink, holding the sponge in its wide-open mouth. It has always been there.
When my grandmother and I do the dishes, she leans out over the sink. The backs of her hands are so heavily freckled, they are like two wide coffee stains. She says the beans from the garden look like they’re going to have some crunch this season. She washes. I dry. The frog sits and keeps us company. It has always been there.
Tonight, I am twenty-one years old and at a Lady Gaga party. I am Alejandro, wearing combat boots and a military jacket. Eyeliner is involved, which wasn’t my idea, but the girl I came with insisted. We are dancing.
“Your eyes look great,” she yells above the music.
“Do they?” I ask.
She pulls out her Iphone and snaps a picture. We are a society no longer in need of reflection, and we can do that. She turns the phone around, says, “See?”
I am wearing makeup. Makeup. Made up. Like I am something fictitious.
She’s still holding her phone out for me, but now she is scrolling through more pictures. Iphones have become something like a stranger’s wallet. They approach you in airplanes, on bar stools, in elevators. We want to show you our snapshots of children unfamiliar to you, playing T-ball. Jesus Christ.
She pulls up a picture of her pet rabbit.
“Isn’t he cute in this one? He’s smiling,” she says.
Rabbits have very few facial muscles. They don’t have eyebrows. They can’t smile. I shout, “So cute!”
She scrolls through more pictures: her roommate, a man with a guitar, a plastic frog.
“Wait a minute, stop,” I say. “What is that?”
“This? My roommate got it for me.”
I’m looking at the knock-off version of my grandmother’s frog. It’s green instead of yellow and it isn’t ceramic, but the concept is the same. It sits next to the sink and holds a sponge. Only, this one has been scribbled on. There are tears drawn around its eyes. Stretch marks drawn on the sides of its neck. It hasn’t hit me yet, what this means.
“I added a little something,” she shouts.
I notice that instead of a sponge, there is a thick carrot shoved into the frog’s mouth. Carved into the carrot, very clearly, is the foreskin.
She says, “We named it Deep-throat.”
My blank eyes are my grandmother’s two-sided porcelain sink. My pupils are the drains. The rest of my body is spinning down with the water and I want to shout something like Who the fuck are you? or This is why I don’t date men; you’re supposed to better. But that isn’t even it. That isn’t enough. I want to leave. I want to be alone. I want to put my hands inside myself and root around, make sure my childhood is still down there. That it hasn’t been taken. I want to squeeze it like a sponge. Feel it porous between my fingers and say Good. We’re all right. We are here. We have always been here.