Sunday, January 27, 2008
Friday, January 25, 2008
He left in winter. Before he left, he chopped the five cords of small logs into smaller logs. These they piled neatly into stacks within the shelter of the rickety shed built around the houses' backdoor. She enjoyed piling the wood even though it was bitterly cold outside. Stacking wood was one of the few skills passed down from her father. She would set a base with a half log space between each log, and then the second set of logs would rest half in the space, half against the sides of two bottom logs. This kept the pile from shifting and rolling. It wasn't much of a legacy, she supposed, but it made her useful to him as he chopped the logs with an axe. He wished for a chainsaw during the long laborious work but she was glad for the absence of mechanical noise. She enjoyed the sound of first, the axe head against the metal splinter, and then the loud crack as the log broke in half. Next she would hear the thud of the axe blade splitting the halves into quarters. Finally, he would throw the wood to her in the shed where she would stack. They worked in silence but it was comfortable unlike the silences that filled the inside of the house. During these precious moments, she imagined that they could both learn to live with comfortable. After they had cut and stacked the five cords, he left. For good.
It was like him, she thought each time she brought wood in from the shed, to make sure she had enough wood. He liked to take care of people. To save them. He had imagined he was saving her. But in the end, he realized that she had saved herself. She didn't need him, and that weighed heavily on him. As she dropped the wood into the wooden box that marred the beauty of the kitchen island, she remembered how these tasks became the "manly" ones. It irked her when he took over the tending of the woodstove. He didn't know shit about woodstoves, she discovered quickly. The first night she woke to a house full of smoke. He had fully closed the vent on the chimney pipe. Then the second night, he left it fully open, and they woke freezing. Thank god, none of the pipes had frozen. Most times, he could barely get the stove stoked. He could not take advice from her, and she learned to just keep her mouth closed, set in a tight angry line. Her mouth too often found itself in that position as the relationship dwindled to an end. When he was gone, to the bathroom, or to get more wood, she would quickly fix his mistakes, and then go back to whatever she was doing, looking innocent or so she hoped.
Now the stove was hers. Of course only partly. Whoever had built this house had no sense. The stove was in the middle of the foyer between the stairs leading to the second floor with the kitchen island to one side, and the bathroom on the other. There was not room for the wood box which her dad had given to her when she moved. She loved the box though it was rather ugly, and it looked wrong against the granite perfection of the island. It had been built by her grandfather when was a little girl. It was stained a dark brown, and had a top which was now a bit wobbly. Each night she would make three trips to fill the box. Then she would stoke the stove with black iron poker, stirring up the latent coals hidden beneath a blanket of ash. She would relish the sudden flash of heat against her skin as the coals were revealed through the gray. Next she would push in a couple of dry logs, pushing the coals to form a nest. She would lay a few pieces of kindling directly atop the coals. She would close the door a bit, enough to allow some air in, and to make sure the wood caught. When she was sure, she would close the stove, and open the vent. Then she would make supper before adding more wood, and closing the vent a bit more.
On nights, when the pain and loneliness were stronger, she would sometimes make supper on the stove. She would wrap a potato in aluminum foil, and lay it near the fire. She would sit and watch the fire dance inside the stove through the door vent. Sometimes, she would turn off the lights, and let the flames make shadows of the walls and beams. She could never get him to do this. He was too comfortable at that point, to just sit with his arms around her unless it was going to lead to sex. Although, they did sit one snowy night, and eat chocolate chip cookies, made from the recipe found on the back of The Tollhouse chocolate chips bag. They hadn't touched though, just sat there in the dark because there was no electricity. Now she sat alone and munched her cookies alone. Her cats would come and sit around her. Once the potato had been baking for awhile, she would put soup in a cast iron pan, and lay that atop the stove next to the iron kettle that kept the air hydrated. She would mess with the stove, stoking it unnecessarily, adding some bits of kindling. She enjoyed this bit of care. And then she would eat there in front of the stove. The potato was never good, always slightly overcooked in some places and nearly raw in others. Her dad could make perfect baked potatoes this way. The soup would always be good though. It was hard to screw up soup.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Very little in my great great grandmother's life was about choice. She married young because she was pregnant. One simply did not become a single mother in my great great grandmother's world. Pressured by her parents, she married a much older dominating man. If one is to believe that sex is about choice, one could argue that she had a choice when she fucked this man. There is no point in sugar coating what they did as making love. It was sex. And it was sex that came unwilling for her. Sex that was pushed on her, sex that nagged away at her virginity until she finally gave in. He was older, quite forceful but charming and handsome as well. She was 13 and he was 25.
He was handsome and charming. The pictures show a dark man in one of those suits from the 40s with a Panama hat, tucked down over one eye. He was holding a cigarette, and had a sly smile on his face. He looked like the kind of man who screwed men out of their money and just screwed women. And that's pretty much who he was. He was gone a lot, following the horses and various schemes. My great grandmother no longer interested him once she had the second child. Childbirth and extreme poverty wrote early lines onto her face and made her luxurious black hair thin and gray. She looks like a poor Maine woman in the photos. Her hair pulled back severely from her face knotted into a tight bun. She wears a flower print dress that gathers at the waist and then falls into to her calves. It is hard to tell if the dress is faded because the photo is old but I always think the dress is faded. She has one hand on her hip, and the other arm is holding a baby, my nana. There is another girl holding onto her legs, my aunt Isabella. They all look haunted and scared.
Then my great great grandfather disappeared. No one knew where he went but they suspected he was hiding from another scheme gone wrong. There is a rumor that he went overseas. My great great grandmother found another man while he was gone. We don't know a lot about him. I'd like to think he was kind and loving but I suspect that he was an ass just like my great great grandfather. There are no pictures of him. No name. Just some faceless man that my great great grandmother had an affair with. I'm not sure how much choice was in this sex either. He likely helped take care of her at a time when it was hard for a woman to get a job especially in rural Maine and New Hampshire. Sex for money is nothing new in this world. Sex for protection is also nothing new but sex does little to protect in the end.
My great great grandmother got pregnant. And then she found out that my great great grandfather was coming back. She was terrified so she took a clothes hanger and shoved up her vagina in an attempt to abort the fetus she carried. I wonder at how great her fear was of this man that she would do something so drastic and no doubt incredibly painful. What had he done to her to make her so frightened? There were likely doctors who would do this but the money was no doubt beyond my great great grandmother's meager income. Her neighbors found her on the stairs, bleeding to death. They brought her to the hospital but it was too late. Her death certificate lists cause of death as: miscarriage.
In a world where sex is to often used as a weapon against women, it is even more of a necessity that we fight for safe, free abortions. This demands that we not let ourselves feel safe. It is too easy to imagine that the right to choice has been established and can not be taken away. I will always be pro choice. Women have few choices in this world as it is. The very least we should have is the right to control the fertility of our own bodies.
Monday, January 21, 2008
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Friday, January 11, 2008
To Mexico City, Mexico
Arrive 12:20 PM 03 Jun 2008 Meal: Buy on Board
From: Mexico City, Mexico
To: Charlotte, NC
Arrive: 5:56 PM 22 Jul 2008
Meal: Buy on Board