That woman in the mirror

     I dream of swimming with the goldfish in mango sweetened waters, citrus blasting in marmalade cascades out of a pumpkiny spout. My present bathroom is arctic white; an igloo sized five foot by six foot room, with polar bears lurking under the sink and penguins nesting in the shower.   I’ve tried to warm it up; a curtain blooming with peonies sprouts from the shower rod, and a carefully placed piece of stained glass cuts the light shining into the bathtub into a summertime fruit salad, but the pristine porcelain still avalanches out into the hall.  Currently, my bathroom bleats like an Easter lamb.  I want it to roar like a tiger. I want to paint it tangerine orange. Orange combines the energy of red and the happiness of yellow. Orange represents enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, determination, attraction, success, encouragement, and stimulation.  All these emotions fit neatly into my bathroom, folded next to the clean linens, crumpled up with the dirty socks after a long day waiting tables, floating peacefully around me during my sacred Sunday night baths. 
    My first bathroom was a long narrow room with the toilet at the far end, a little green curtain on the frosted glass window, and a lock on the door; a haven of privacy.  I was the first of 8 girls, shared a bedroom with 2 sisters, and my hairbrush with no one.  My multitude of siblings and I were used to having community possessions; all my clothes were handed down to my younger sisters, we shared books, friends, classes, bikes, and even boys we liked.  But we did not have to share toiletries.   There was a staircase of drawers in that bathroom, one for each sister, cascading with headbands, hair ties, nail polish, Teen Spirit, combs, brushes, acne cream. I had the top drawer; a privilege granted to me being the eldest, and I was the first to tuck a little box of tampons and a razor in the back, afraid of being caught in the act of growing up.  It took me a month to work up the courage to shave those first curly armpit hairs.  It was in this bathroom that my mom gave a tutorial on how to change a sanitary pad to three blushing girls, but she kept the industrial sized box in her bathroom, a large double-sinked wonder with a huge tub.  I remember well the walk of shame down the long hallway toward that box of hygienic paper product; the fact that there was only one time of the month a Harris girl used that bathroom became a running joke in the family.  And I continued to seek solitude in my bathroom, learning how to cut my bangs much too short, plucking those stubborn hairs between my eyebrows that just wouldn’t stay away, obsessively brushing and flossing my brace-laden teeth.  The lock on that door got a lot of use in the 5 years that I was a teenager, and those soft blue walls comforted me during the butchering my legs with that cheap razor that I lifted from my mom’s bathroom.   
    Off I went to college where shared a dormitory bathroom with 20 girls who were not my sisters.  The floor was concrete, the shower curtains offered no privacy and a little mildew, and the sinks were often full of rainbows of hair.  In this dungeon I learned to sleep curled around a toilet, writhing with too much boxed wine, and I realized that lots of women had small breasts and knobby knees. I grew comfortable walking around with only my hair wrapped in a towel.  I never got better at shaving my legs, and grew to love the way the now soft, long hairs blew in the air of the old radiators that lined the walls, strung with damp bras and drying t-shirts.   Those brick walls and beige bathroom stalls were hung with posters that taught me about chlamydia, and student government, and vegetarians.
     I found myself in Chicago, living in a studio with Lauren, and we barbequed out of the bathtub one evening, for lack of a backyard, and the once white walls were stained with smoke.  Lauren was still writing Bible verses on little slips of paper and tucking them into that vanity mirror for me to read while applying lipstick in the morning.  John 3:16, Evening Plum, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, Hot Tahiti, resist the Devil, and he will flee from thee, RazzleDazzler, Psalms 27:1.   A year later, when I was moving out with my first real boyfriend, we painted over those swirls of soot and talked about everything I had got away and Lauren had put up with in that apartment; the cat, boys coming and leaving, dance parties, and the indoor smoking.  
     And then the basement bathroom happened.  I tried to make it pretty, but the sheetrock walls and the dented washer and dryer were as hard to overlook as the holes that the man I was in love with had punched out during our frequent fights. Every month brought a pregnancy test, I was sure that this man I was terrified of had gotten me pregnant. Finally, I patched the walls, and packed my bags. 
     Now I am living with this bathroom that should be orange but is white.   Orange is the color of joy, sunshine, and warmth.  It is the color of a cool bath and Eva Cassidy on a hot summer day, it is the color of my boyfriend’s hair, it is the color of my coppery dog, it is the color of happiness with who I am and where I am. 
     And so I stand in front of my toothpaste speckled mirror, surrounded by a halo of bleached fluorescence.  I tuck a paint sample under the cracked corner of that glass that has seen squeezed zits, experimental electric blue eyeshadow, the first smile lines, awful hairstyle choices, various men brushing their teeth, that perfect shade of matte lipstick. Orange Burst.  Tahitan Sunset. Dreamsicle. 


trailer treasure

Continuing the chain of changes in my vida dulce, our little camper, Rosinante (inspired by the oh so wonderful John Steinbeck and the oh so brave Don Quixote) has been sold for $200 to the highest bidder, a feisty republican named John, possibly a relation of the man the camper was inspired by, as he also had a large poodle and a way with words.   That camper may have been tiny, but I figured out the reason it weighed so much; not because it was old as shit and made out of plywood, but because it was weighted down with all the memories of the 6 months my darling, myself, and two dogs lived as nomads/squatters in the wilds of the southwest. 

So much nostalgia is coursing through my veins as I type this Ode to a Camper.  It was love from the moment we moved in; on that fateful day I met my destiny with a broken pyrex dish and had to be driven down to Phoenix with a severed artery, sliced nerves, no tendon in my left hand intact, and all our worldly possessions rattling around behind us in our new home.  The memory of living in that little icebox through a high desert winter with 6 blankets on the bed, a transformer cast and oven mitt on my crippled hand and the propane heater pumping out so much carbon dioxide and hardly any heat will always warm the cockles of my soul.  We’ve been through so much together, so many washboard roads, so many hot springs, so many states, so many illicit transports under false floors of guns whose legality may or may not be in question in certain states, and that camper stayed almost in one piece almost the entire time.

That’ll do pig, that’ll do. 











to bang or not to bang…

that is the question.
Whether tis nobler for the forehead to suffer
The glare of the sun on its mirrored sheen
or to be confined beneath a sea of troubles
and suffer the torture of early morning brushings.
To snip, to grow-
o, that lunatic fringe.

Every time I quote that famous bard, my sophomore year of college, back in ought 8, comes to mind.  It was a bright sunny day when I came up with the cunning plan to get both of my required Shakespeare courses out of the way in one semester, under the (oh, so false) pretense that at least some of the plays studied in the two courses might overlap.  3 torrid months later, I had read 8 Shakespearean epics and everything was so convoluted by the time finals rolled around I ended up thinking Hamlet was a small pig, and his soliloquy was referring to his curly tail.    

All that Shakespearean prowess is going to come in real handy once I start my next endeavor/adventure.   I am going to be returning to school in the fall to quest after my Masters in Education with licensure to teach secondary English.  Nervous, excited, already know what I’m going wear on my first day of school!  Its been a whirlwind of activity, getting all of the mountains and valleys of paperwork turned in.  Now that I’ve been accepted, there’s a whole new mountain range of forms for me to tackle, hopefully I’ll descend from the Alps by next weekend.

In my further endeavors to be a grown-up, Aaron and I have found an abode to rent.  No more slumming it in the woods, or in campers in friends yards, for these two wanderers, at least for the next two years.  Tomorrow, we sign the lease on a sweet little studio loft with views of the Bridgers and Tobacco Roots, access to the creek, endless gardening possibilities, and within biking distance of everything important in town (the Co-op and the Haufbrau).  I’m surprisingly alright with being settled for this next chapter, but I’m going to have to pick up smoking, since the front porch is perfect for it.   More nervousness and excitement, since we haven’t had to pay rent in 6 months, but I am so stoked to have a little space to decorate, and not have my clothes stored in a box under our kitchen table, which is a bed half the time.

In other news, the Biggest Puppy in the World has consumed two 16 oz. containers of nutritional yeast and a bottle of wine in the past few weeks.   That girl knows how to party.

I leave you with this amazingly glutenous picture.  The simplest things are always the most beautiful.