Thursday, May 29, 2008

Good things.

In cleaning out the cabinet beneath the bathroom sink, I came across a bracelet I had purchased for myself. It's nineteen pieces of rose quartz on a stretchyelastic, each piece rounded and polished. I bought it with the specific intent of it being my "happy with me" piece of jewelry: every time I felt sorry for myself, or thought I was useless or pathetic, I would wear it and think of all the reasons, one for each stone, why I liked myself.

So, in contrast to my last post about what I can't do and what I don't like about myself, this, and future posts, will be about what I can do and what I do like about myself.

When I bought this bracelet, it was late fall. I first wore it on a train - though I don't remember where I was going. As I fingered the beads, I thought about snow, and . . . snowmen.

I am really good at making snowmen. I know it doesn't seem like a difficult thing to do - roll up three balls, stack them, and stick some twigs and rocks in it - but I do more than that.

I smooth each ball out and pick out the bits of grass that have gotten stuck in the snow. I carve features into the face with my bare fingers and small sticks, and use the darkened pennies fished out of the depths of my coat pockets for irises.

Ears are difficult - carve them too low, and the snowman becomes a snow troll. Carve them too high and they look, well, not right. Noses can get too big really quickly, but just as easily shaved down with the right-sized twig.

You need a couple of pairs of thin gloves, so you can work your individual fingers into the sometimes unyielding mass of snow. The reason you need several pairs is that they will inevitably get wet and your fingers get cold. A good pair of waterproof mittens are best for smoothing out large areas like the snowman's back, front and legs.


Yes, I try to give my snow people legs, or the illusion of legs. One Christmas, Andrew and I stayed at his parents' house, and made an eight-foot snowman whom we affectionately called PHuFFO'H - pronounced foo-foe - Patrick Hugh FitzFinnigan O'Hara. He was so called because when we were done, my father-in-law gave us a giant shamrock hat to put on his head. PHuFFO'H had what looked like giant boxing gloves for hands, his arms akimbo. He had a slightly large head, but nice round cheeks, a big smile, and pants and shoes.

A year later, we walked through a park near our apartment and on the fly made Helga the Hausfrau. She was about half of PHuFFO'H's size, but she had lovely wavy hair made up into a bun in the back, a beautifully curved stick to delineate her mouth, and a matronly apron. over her dress. Her hands were on her belly just below her respectably sized bosom.

I am good at making snowmen.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


It occurred to me yesterday that I am a unique person. (Though one might argue, isn't everybody unique?)

Compared to most people, I cannot move much of my face.

Through an interesting quirk of genetics, I cannot arch my right eyebrow by itself. Nor can I curl my tongue, flare my nostrils, or wiggle my ears.

It's fascinating, really. Both my parents can curl their tongues, as well as both of my brothers. My youngest brother, in fact, can dip his tongue into three or four nubs. (And let's leave the 'lucky girlfriend' jokes aside, shall we?) My other brother has double jointed elbows.

One of my friends from high school could flare her nostrils on command, and my husband, the ultimate betrayer, can wiggle his ears and arch both eyebrows independently AND flex his pecs. How's that for talent?

But what caprice of creation deemed that I, the firstborn of my family, have none of these marvelous abilities that most people take for granted? Honestly, the looks I get when I tell people I can't curl my tongue, you'd think they won the lottery. Because I inevitably have to demonstrate that no, in fact, my tongue is curl-defunct. *bleaaaagh*

It's the most common of these tics, you might say, though probably tied with the dual eyebrow arch. Ear-wiggling and nostril-flaring seem to be less common abilities, and still, I have none of them. For a while, I was pleased to find out that I have some double jointed toes, until I found out that most people do too, courtesy of our simian ancestry. But I wonder at the usefulness of curled tongues, flared nostrils and wiggled ears in the context of monkey life. Did some antecedent of mine starve because they couldn't curl their tongue into some tree's hollow to eat some tasty bugs? Did the lack of flared nostrils cause an untimely death by a predator that was not scented in time? Was there a secret ear-wiggling code that my great-to-the-nth-grandparent wasn't able to learn, and was abandoned by the family group as a result?

Not that it's obvious, but I reek of jealousy.

But I do do a mean left eyebrow arch, though.
-- ^