The park was empty by the time pink streaked through the sky, signaling the beginning of the sunset. I eyed a boy hunched over a book. His dark eyes darted upwards every so often. His foot tapped against the sidewalk beneath him, and his spidery fingers worried the edges of the pages. Every so often, he sniffed the air as if smelling something foul.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines disability as an ‘inability; incapacity; weakness.’ Almost all of those are negative words—the latter being negative in its own right.
I never considered myself disabled. I have two arms and two legs, a working brain and an overactive heart. I am fine. Sure, I’m overwhelmed to a point of paralysis when I’m around people for too long, or when overloaded darts are being thrown at all of my senses. I’m exhausted from always trying to over-exist in a certain way, instead of simply being. I seem to be over-everything, really, rather than under.
In March 2020 I turned sixty-five years old. It's a milestone in Western culture... and a millstone around the neck of those of us subject to ageist assumptions.
Stumbling upon a quote by notable American businessman Bernard Baruch, I was both encouraged and amused. “Age is only a number, a cipher for the records. A man can't retire his experience. He must use it. Experience achieves more with less energy and time.”
Naturally, the quote feels dated (Baruch died in 1965) as it addresses age-discrimination, but is gender-specific. Nevertheless, it made me think that comparing the exuberance of youth to the perspective of years, is not unlike comparing the view through a microscope to the one from the summit of Mt. Everest.
Gary didn't know which world was doing what, couldn't distinguish explosion from implosion, familiar landmarks gone twisty and airborne. The Choir of Contempt flocked like a murder, black crow wing gowns, Wydette front and center. She screamed, her hair as tall as a church steeple. Nadira lurked, shadow of a shadow. Big fat liar. Gary felt blurry, his head full of trash, voices he never met before crowding him. He walked around Target, looking away from all the staring people, people who kept touching themselves, pointing at their privates and looking at him. The trash voices crested and crashed like waves, and they hurt.
I am a woman who had a really bad case of fibroids,non-cancerous tumors that grow within the wall of the uterus. In my case, genetics probably played a part, since my mother had them, too.
Known technically as uterine leiomyomata, they can vary in size and number and may cause infertility, miscarriage and early onset of labor. You hear a lot about breast and uterine cancer, but almost never about fibroids.
The summer after graduating high school I drove to California with a girlfriend and we spent a week at a beachside campground north of San Diego. I remember watching people build sandcastles. Some of them were works of wonderfully sculpted art, although curiously enough and without exception, once the castles were left unguarded, little kids would wander by and destroy them, trampling the walls and towers into mounds of formless sand. Why would children have the desire to destroy? I have always wondered about that.
It was cold outside, but here it is feverish hot, an overcompensation for the chill of the season. The drawing room practically shimmers from the fire, sending out heat but not warmth into the company. There is never any warmth at such gatherings. The wallpaper of yellow flowers is too bright, not sunny and joyful but sickly and glaring. The black dresses of the ladies and the dark suits of the gentlemen stand in stark contrast to the background, just as they contrast to the complexion of their wearers, jet jewelry shining menacingly on pallid throats. Nothing is welcoming about this house, nothing was inviting about the invitation to come. Yet I came.
They’d have to save all the whales before they get to prisoner’s rights. Still, to protect the unborn I’m cuffed in front transported on a state bus. Will the maternity ward be pastel blue or pastel pink? It’s institutional white. I’m no angel. They are no monsters. They speak in a hush.
Vasiliy started taking dancing lessons in November, which meant there was plenty of time till he’d be seeing Mom again. He always came to her place in August, when they both had their birthdays. There was an old bird cherry tree near her cottage and he liked to sit in its fragrant shadow, enjoying the last days of warm sunshine and idleness. With their birthdays just a week apart, there was an extra treat thrown in between – the Day of the Railway Worker, a big event in the community largely depending on the Trans-Siberian railway for sustenance.