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Five Very Short Stories

Before My Piano Lesson Cat Woman, pale and severe, was systematic: first the older daughter; then the little one. She spit in her hankie and rubbed their faces. The girls were compliant. Walking up the stairs for my lesson, I’d pray that Cat Woman would just read her magazine this week. I’d take out my [...]

And now a word from my inner free-range chicken

My “can’t really care” is also not the “How many fucks I’m not going to give” meme that makes the social media rounds. I’m not propounding rebellion and recognizing my own voice—though I applaud that step in time. I’m not embracing my bad habits, defiantly poised against corporate motherhood telling us to eat our broccoli and go to the gym.

I am my Mother and Father

We will not cast people out for their choices in lip color, hosiery, language, religion, or the lack thereof. We will try to be “with it,” but not too with it—if you know what I mean.

I would run away with you at a moment’s notice

When I long to “run away”, it’s not just fear of that special vulnerability –trying to create art and knowing it just might be shit. No, it’s fear of loneliness, pointlessness, a life unwitnessed and unconnected.

Father

If he had lived longer, would I have gotten to know him better? Would I sit still for the repetitive stories, ask the probing questions, complete the pictures I stopped gathering over 20 years ago? Or would I be annoyed at his slowness and frailty, at the obstinacy and routines of old men. Would I have continued to be too rushed by the crush between generations to note the gifts of either one?

Remember and rediscover

Today I mostly take care of my memories of Dad and Mom. I find the bit of understanding—the fond memory and the noble act—and I embrace it in the tale told. It can be a quiet, private thing. Sometimes I’ve made it a public thing, splashing it across my website and my stages. Is this what the commandment means? Remember, rediscover and perpetuate?

Shoes

Yes, I’m a woman of sensible, terribly sensible shoes. I still own lots of them. After a ten-pair purge I’m down to just over thirty…pair. I buy shoes prophylactically, restoratively, because they are there and occasionally even because I need them. But No, I never had Go-Go boots. Did you?

Parents

When my parents were still here for me, I asked and avoided, I listened and ignored. When I became a parent, all that programming poured from my firmware and wanted control. Would I live the legacy or change it? Would I be blind? conscious? fearful? or defiant? I retraced those steps right down to the words and deeds that had made me shudder a few short decades before–”because I said so” or “you just have to do it, you don’t have to like it.”

What is a country?

(Carole’s father, Rudy, musing in 1937, Germany) Is my country a part of my blood, my bones, is it the safe feeling under my feet? Or is it the place my family has lived for generations—even after it strips away our rights and treats us hatefully? What identifies me as German? Is it my culture, [...]

Rudy’s Thoughts

To think I must send my child away so she can live the life every father dreams of for his child–I am defeated. A Father should be able to give his family all the things they need. Not to be wealthy but to be a family together. Now, just when we should be talking about boys and school, we send her off to a strange place.