Funny how you remember things. I remember the first time I heard of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, the famous Mexican poet. It was during a stay at college. I was in a car with a woman I’d recently met and she mentioned Sor Juana. I’ve remembered and been interested in Sor Juana ever since but I barely remember the woman. Her name was Jane, I think. At the time I was quite smitten with Jane, but it’s Sor Juana I remember.
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I forgot that I needed to plan meals and have food in the house if I wanted to eat. I forgot what day it was and when I was supposed to do things. I forgot to turn off the heat under the tea kettle and the house filled up with smoke. That’s when my son said enough was enough and I had to move out of my house.
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She stood in the kitchen, staring. She couldn’t choose. A banana? An orange? Some strawberries? Why were there so many choices? She couldn’t think it through. Maybe some coffee would start her brain – shake it into deciding mode. But there was no coffee. The pantry was devoid, completely devoid, of coffee.
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Coupons are nice, but we get coupons for all the wrong things. We need coupons for an education or medical care. We need coupons for parental leave. How about a coupon for equal pay? I could use one of those babies.
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“Are you wearing that to the Oscars?” I asked. It was radical – like something Lady Gaga might show up wearing.
“I’m not sure,” she said. “I’m considering a protest of some kind, but I’m not sure if this is the best way.”
“It would certainly get you a lot of attention,” I said. “Makes a statement.”
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What is real life? The stuff you do in your house and at your job, or out looking for entertainment on the weekend? What if everything about that real life is determined by someone’s politics? And what if those politics are not something you agree with? I thought all I had to do to maintain real life in the last election was vote. Turns out that wasn’t enough.
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When someone who is insane makes the rules, it’s hard to concentrate on the simple facts of your own life. It’s hard to remember that the sun will rise, and lunch is available in the fridge, and your bed will be warm tonight. The insanity is overwhelming. Nothing makes sense. Nothing seems normal or reasonable. Enjoying a TV show, reading a good book, running the vacuum – it all feels bizarre in the face of the madness overtaking our country.
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When I first moved to New Mexico many years ago, I told the gas station attendant (yeah, that long ago) to be sure the car’s antifreeze was good to 20 below. He looked at me like I was crazy, but, no, I was just from Colorado. You never hear much about antifreeze these days – have cars changed? Have radiators changed? What’s the story on antifreeze in 2017?
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I remember my mom saying, “use your own two feet,” when I complained about wanting to go somewhere she didn’t have time to take me. Way back then, I didn’t realize what a gift it was to have two good feet and two good legs that would propel me through space and take me places with ease. Feet, knees, legs, I want to thank you for your service. You’ve done well.
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What little protection the bus kiosk offered against the icy wind was welcome. She looked up the street hopefully, praying for the sight of a lumbering bus coming her way. Rain, ice really, fell from the sky in tiny frozen droplets that coated everything with slick danger. Her cane wasn’t much help on the ice, but she had to make it from the shelter to the bus in one piece, Carrieanne’s life depended on it.
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