45 years old and all I can see is this damn blemish.

O panoply of most microscopic yet irksome concerns…
it would feel more worthwhile
to occupy myself with someone *else’s* needs,
a child’s for instance, legitimate, developmental…
but that there’s a whole ‘nother topic for another post.
In the meanwhile I excavate the geography of my own face–

I did it to myself. I mean, it’s not a zit exactly, though I do get those from time to time, too, even unto Middle Age, le sigh.

No, this particular little bugger stems from having plucked a hair. That’s all. Took my surgical steel tweezers to that little bugger and nipped him out– only to have it go and get all irritated and ingrown like they always do. A surely victimless plucking event recently routinely followed by two weeks of cosmetic histrionics: swelling, unpleasantness, and social blight.

high school classmate echoes out of yore,
“Never touch your face!
The oil and dirt on your hands
will make you break out!”

In point of fact it must be noted that I’m temperamentally prone to a mindless digital nitpicking (when Chris catches me at it, he gently slaps my hand away and I, in my more gracious moments, thank him to do it) which could surely have contributed to the exacerbated infection in this case… To be sure some sort of egregious disharmony has surely been struck to render this here chin a Rorschach of “dark spots”– apparently attributable to what amounts to genetic compulsion: based largely on stray observation I conclude inherited tendency toward facial self-dissection through the maternal line. I suspect my sister, too, quite frankly– therefore both sole observable blood-kin cast as big pickers. Not so the now-deceased Victorian dowager Grandmother by adoption– she’d not have deigned to pick so crudely upon her visage with a filthy digit. But those brash and vulgar redheads are another matter altogether, now, fairskinned ill-gotten sprouters lightly furred with glowing down on chin and cheek which caught in the right backlighting proves perceivable as both haloey and soft but inevitably is punctuated by the odd stray follicular rebel, that one that will occasionally spring forth, so absolutely singular and fat with ambition.

Then, by gott in himmel, my mother, my sister, and I myself will pluck that hair straight out, right there and then, just wherever the moment finds us in the course of daily routine (though in strict point of fact we’ll likely as not have been picking already, absently scritching away with fingernails in creeping persistent survey for telltale tiny roughnesses to remove), this unconscious digital address having located a specific marauding irritant will fix upon the discovered protrusion, urge together those always too-soft fingernail tips, reflexively scissoring to grasp and pull!

Unfortunately in response (in my case alone for all I know) these wiry buccaneers of my biology, solid sprouting hairs grasped  between crescents of thumb and index finger snap, then plunge and burrow and cause to fester itty bitty swollen caverns of reddening fleshly gore, churning subterraneanly with uninvited microorganisms, fashioning and forming around a minuscule kernel of aggravated infection.

The difficult pale knot so accomplished will then rise with ohso stately grimness from the epidermal underworld, brim and build to a white welt of threat, tauntingly too deep for release, yet, ugly and evil with lurking— until at last I can bear no longer and go and fetch equipment and tools and set to turning the whole thing inside out.

Begin: Hot hot water on a scrubbing cloth:
dip, apply; dip, apply and hold, hold, hold;
dip, apply; repeat.

Bit by bit the thing will give, some small entry will open, softened, sometimes chafed, to opening, and then, oh release, the grotesque and voluptuous thrill of expression. 

Schoolmarm Chic

I have a problem. A thrift problem.

Lately when I play dressup, I’ve caught myself thinking of the style I’m concocting as Gypsy Schoolmarm Chic (swirly typeface in my head).

Liking the whirly wild of the one combined with the sexy stern of the other, I offer it up as a sort of fanfic elaboration of the naughty librarian motif.

Part of the project, frankly, has to do with locating and/or innovating apparel that allows me to dispense altogether with the brassiere (that hateful scratchy mechanism in the tradition of corsets and bound feet). Consequently I gravitate  toward quasi-renaissance accessories in thrift racks which provide, by way of buttons, hooks, ties, and an assortment of latchy catches the strategic cinching and trussing up of collective bits into a shapely yet comfortably wearable form. This granted Madonnaesque tic toward support attire à l’extérieur instigates a slight revision: Exoskeletal Gypsy Schoolmarm Chic— not quite the domain of Steampunk, but retro-dramatic costumery all the same.

Recently I came up short with a raft of self-induced anxiety about this, ahem, fondness for thrifting (which becomes paradoxically frequent in inverse proportion to availability of funds). There I was, all caught up in dramatic and fun! throes of characteristically gothic self-recrimination when of a sudden I was visited by a windfall revelation– or, rationalization, maybe– either way the idea descended with the benificent flutter of virtual rose petals: I could open a resale shop on Etsy.

 Cue chorus of heavenly host. Oh, I know, grand online sales dreams are a dime a dozen. Still, it just might be a workable solution, if not to global belligerence and rampant economic inequality, at least ameliorating a bit the losing equation of household finances. (Theoretical) income could (conceivably) offset expenses ($ if not time). Given how the lowrent resale shops I frequent are so universally void of dressing rooms, this plan as well accounts for the bits that simply don’t fit that I inevitably wind up home with, having raptured over decorative stitching or fabric tooth and thrown my couple bucks down on the secondhand roulette wheel (more soon on affiliated seamstressing badge also currently undertaken).

It further makes me happy that, in allowing some space for (occasionally absurd and undignified) play and exploration, even up against the starchiest of uptight bugaboos like Mr. Worthwhile Use Of One’s Time and Money, I’ve succeeded in pushing past and through simple narcissism (ooh, shudder; tho who’s to say not simply a deeper form of narcissism)– all that dressing up and posing for webcam timer ding (honestly)– push past traditional scruples and modesties, brushing by (clearly) a couple of very widgedy Shoulds, to arrive at a delightful arena for the performance of theatre in the miniature peopled with variable invented personas, each attired expressly to suit her role.

(Quite possibly my imagination runs to the theatrical lately thanks to Julian Fellowes, whose wonderful attention to costumery I’ve been engulfed in lately by way of both video and ebook.)

Floyd thinks I should simply pay more attention to the squeaky hedgehog.


Snow today, readying for the weather. Up early with the spouse to help build plow teams. Coffee and raisin toast, litany of nightly carnage on the morning news.

Write a book, he says. This thingamajiggy is only for people who write books.

Instead I write a moany email to to a friend. All about my habitual (indulging) inclination toward stuckness, blah blah blah. Immediately after hitting Send I see the whole thing illuminated in reverse: the simple problem being my inadequate supply of stick-to-it-iveness.

And so I sit me here writing. As episodic and halting and whatever whatever as the project may be. Regardless, so, I write.

I’ve been grappling a bit lately, actually, with what indeed to post here on the blog, words-wise. Images seem to have been no problem whatsoever for awhile now, but I can’t seem to fix on a doggone thing to say out loud in this space. Facebook yadda yadda and Twitter blurt and nary a paragraph for Navelgazer. The thing’s become a dingdang slideshow.

Where have I been writing? A bit on my iPhone, on and off. There’s a running Note called Writing/Thoughts. It’s undated, unfortunately, so not so terribly helpful in a journal or blog sense. Sort of blowsy impressionistic blur of days around the hood, most likely, maybe something in it for the essay I’ve been noodling so long now.

Suddenly, now, the past few days there’s been a spate of urgent chronicling and inventory. New year and birthday and all, o, that august numeral of forty-five.

I’m both embarrassed and ashamed to be so insistently insolvent. The lizard brain somehow still lurks among the 1% while the earthly body sinks down through the muck of ninety-nine.

I seek reprieve in video consumption, social media, and fattening snacks.

My husband works and sleeps then works again.

Chicago Politics

It’s all around me here, even while I lurk like a snail up inside its shell here, tucked into a third floor L train overlook, nested in amongst radiator clank bracketed with ice-steamy windows– still there is the exoskeletal framework to lug.

My husband, our sole brave breadwinner, works in the employ of that great municipal monstrosity, the City, pulling levers and switches deep in the gut of churningest turmoil, from my perspective. From his it’s something finer and more upstanding surely, yadda yadda. Granted I’m the sticky prickly one in the family– but for when I has to comes clean, clean up and shape up and make a good showing. Yes, I can make a spitting image. I had extensive training through dancing and private schools. Though I practice the elusive art of invisibility currently, I was once a clambering enough mannequin well practiced in the forms and costumes (if habitually disposed to escape to kitchens, basements, attics, and bygod servants’ quarters).

In my family of origin (cue bells tolling upon that phrase) politics was my way or the highway. Blunt force of ethics backed up with a legal degree and/or gender and/or age. A youngest daughter couldn’t win, by definition. So I became at times the most apoplectic of closet reds that litter soft suburbia.

Just for the Fun of it

Every once in a while put on
every polka dot in the cupboard.
Make binder clip clothesline
displays of many monogrammed
handkerchiefs and scarves. Tally up
batches of both suspenders and braces,
garters and laces, patches, pocket
lint and spare change, stray
kites’ tails, rags, bones, and baby teeth.
Lay on layers like sediment of age and play-
ground granite, complete beaches of
microscopic boulders, bubbles
of air, molecules, subatomic
particulate tracery of every breath and
gesture for good or whimsical ill
or thought-mired sin of omission.



Garland Garland


It’s cold, or maybe just lonely. Distances are shrinking. She strings lights from star to star, pegging down heaven to the immense yawn of prairie. Possibly she imagines a rainbow, somewhere.