Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Revisiting the tear-stained sun

“Her books are very emotionally difficult to read.”  It’s a phrase I say nearly every time I’m recommending one of Chimamanda Adichie’s books, most often for Half of a Yellow Sun or Americannah.  I know it to be true.  I spend a great deal of the time with my head buried in her books also with tears streaming down my face, an angry growl churning in my stomach, my face glowing beet red.  I always assumed it was the subject matter.  Her works contain a lot of violence, sexual abuse, domestic abuse; I mean, it’s war, and difficult relationships, and oppression and such.  It’s not supposed to be easy.  But that’s not the reason.

The subject matter isn’t what makes Adichie emotionally difficult to read.  What makes Adichie emotionally difficult to read is her writing.  She cruelly uses our humanity against us, her readers, plays with and preys upon our propensity to hope.  She presents something to us, makes it familiar, comfortable, happy even-- A calabash providing solid comfort to a terror-stricken young woman on a dilapidated train overcrowded with fleeing refugees; a bouncy baby girl that arrives into our view only a few pages after the characters who have become endeared to us decide together that they want to have a child; the expectant young relative whose joy and excitement is brought to us through seemingly excessive side-jaunts to her far-off village.  But the calabash holds a young girl’s head; the baby is only one of theirs; and the pregnant women are raped and sliced open before they are killed.

Adichie uses our innate hope for the good and beautiful, presenting a world to us that we do not even know is veiled, until we love what we think is there; and she pulls off the veil, daring us simultaneously to love the hideous reality and to hate the beauty we’ve already internalized.

And I simultaneously hate and love, her.  As I turn another page with tears streaming down my face, wishing the book were over, wishing it would never end.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Second Life Tights

H&M.  The label rather gives their history away, these worn-out black knit tights lying in the gigantic pile of mending on what used to be a place to sit.  Some people build mountains out of molehills; I build them out of clothes that need to be fixed.  Much like my mother does with items that need to be ironed.

I like H&M, too, but not as much as Munchkinhead.  Or, at least, I don’t shop there quite as much as she does.  And a pair of knit tights from there is most certainly in my possession as the result of a wonderful Christmas present from her.  I wonder what the label said.  Probably something about “to: long legs, from: short legs” or some such silliness.

The tights have been through a lot.  A present when I lived in Cali, in the Yay, where one needs to wear woolly knit tights nearly year-round.  Then put to good use again in Wisconsin’s bitter cold winter, likely serving as a layer of warmth buried beneath slips, long thick skirts, fuzzy socks and sturdy boots.  It’s no wonder the tights no longer provide any coverage for toes or that it is easier to see through the heels than through Betty’s rear window.

I’d given them to Munchkinhead to darn.  She’s quite good at darning.  “These cannot be darned,” she informed me.  It seems they were already damned; one cannot darn nothingness.  So she sent them back, via Mommy, to sit on Mount Sewme until I decided what to do with them.

Munchkinhead helped.  With the decision, that is, indirectly, sending a smattering of additional torn-up legwear after cleaning out the large filing cabinet in her living room.  Within the new stash, old hold-up stockings with their own holes and runs and perfectly intact whatever-you-call-the-garter-replacing-sticky-bands-at-the-top.  A seam ripper, a scissors, and a sewing machine later, I have new black woolly knit hold-up stockings.

If I have to shorten them again in the future, Munchkinhead will have new hold-ups.






new stocking