It’s just a wooden spoon.
It showed up a couple of days ago in the brown sugar canister. I don’t know where it came from. Maybe it’s new in town, like me, and needed a place to stay. I’m not much of a talker, so I didn’t ask.
It makes me incredibly happy, and I have no idea why. Maybe just the organic nature of wood. It’s real. Not melted and reshaped and embellished with silly flower patterns. It’s just a piece of wood with an indentiaton. Functional art at its best.
Maybe that’s the problem with life. You get caught up with it being so big. The world is a scary place. The basic rights you always thought you’d have teeter on the edge. The future is so uncertain. People you love are slowly fading away. You worry you’re next. You worry.
And then, there it is. A wooden spoon. You pull it out, scoop some brown sugar onto the oatmeal. And then maybe a second round. Because you like the spoon.
You hold it. It’s wood. It’s real. It’s not going away. You realize “enjoy every sandwich” isn’t a wish. It’s a mandate.
Life is so fragile. Hold on tight.
Even if it’s just a wooden spoon.
We’re making our first visit to the Scottsdale mall. It’s not a store mall, but a Washington, D.C., mall, except no Forrest Gump calling for Jenny. It’s near the new home and one of our favorite places. A fabulous library with leather chairs for loitering while reading Rolling Stone and Runner’s World, a couple of art galleries, coffee and a huge lawn with fountains, rolling hills and of course, the LOVE statue.
Longtime readers will recall this is the same statue where the mythical El Señor brought the Lightweight Orange Racing Soup Ladle (anything else is just a big spoon) © to life. Coincidentally, there’s a business meeting over the weekend among a loose consortium of his shady associates called The Loop (I suspect it’s a Ponzi scheme of some sorts, but I was in early enough that I think I’m OK.) They have recently posed in front of one of the fake LOVE statues in Philadelphia (which may or may not be a real city.) I get a photo of me standing in front of OUR statue with a note asking where everyone is. ha ha.
I ask Mo if she wants a picture. Sure, she says, and walks behind it. Which is odd, because it’s a statue that spells out the word LOVE, so this rather defeats the purpose. My mind races. An anti-Trump statement? A commentary on the dwindling love in the world? Part of the Guerrilla Girl feminist art movement she just joined? I ask.
Nah. Lights better from this direction, she points out.
And that’s how we got a backward LOVE and a well-lighted photo of Mo’s bottom.
Living with an artist is weird.
- It’s my last day in Corpus Christi. I’m driving back from getting my oil changed when I see him. We’ve crossed paths almost every day over the six-something years I’ve been here. I’m guessing he had a stroke of some kind a long time ago, because he can’t use his right arm or leg so well. It’s a struggle for him to walk, but he must put in 5 or 6 miles a day. I’ve never talked to him, but we always wave and say hey. He is an inspiration. Maybe early 30s; life gave him a bad hand but he’s not folding. Never give up; take what you’ve got and make the best of it. It’s a lesson I easily forget. I’m glad he’s been there as a daily reminder. And now, as I leave town, there he is again, walking along Texan. He looks up, sees me, flashes that smile and gives me a peace sign. I wave back. God, I’m going to miss him.
- We’re loading stuff up the next morning after driving all day and stopping in Van Horn, Texas. As I stand looking at the mountains, a nearby woman asks if I can help. She has the hood open on an old Ford F-150 pickup. She’s wearing psychedelic tights, old running shoes and a sweatshirt. She has a foreign accent but I can’t place it. I walk over and look under the hood with her. Like I know anything about engines. Had it since June, she says. The parts all have writing on them, a V-8 Frankenstein. She has taken out the dipstick, but for some reason it appears to be twice as long as the allowable space to reinsert it. She asks if I can help. I give it a try, but I’m terrified I will break it. Can I drive it that way, she asks. Beats me, I reply. It’s Sunday morning in a tiny town. No way she’ll find a mechanic. But she is so cheery. What’s a little adversity. when you’re having an adventure? Mo comes over. She tells Mo she’s from Argetina and on her way to Abilene be a farmer. I come from a people with animals, she says. She’s raising goats. Maybe chickens. She asks hopefully how far Abilene is. About 350 miles, I reply. She shrugs and indicates that’s fine. She needs to get back to the goats. Maybe go to the truck stop, Mo offers. Truck guys will know what to do. She nods and smiles. She never stops smiling. She checks in on two chihuahuas riding shotgun and heads off to motel office for coffee.
- I’m out for my first Arizona run. As i stand at the corner of Thomas and Hayden, I hear a voice behind me. “Do you know where the bar is?” It’s about 10 a.m. and he’s drunk, and not in a good way. He says he thinks he left his wallet at the bar, but he doesn’t know where that is. I tell him it’s my first day here and I don’t know. He says, you know, the bar! I want to help him, but I have no idea how. Can you remember anything about where it was, I ask. No, I have these blank spots in my head, he says. I don’t know. I hate to walk away. He looks me up and down and excitedly asks, “Did you run the Chicago Marathon?” I haven’t, but I said, yes! Great race! He nods approvingly. “Well, have a good run,” he says. We walk across Hayden together. I say a little prayer to Ruth Bader Ginsburg and we part ways.
- I read about a guy explaining the election to his two daughters. “What I say to them is that people are complicated. Societies and cultures are really complicated. This is not mathematics; this is biology and chemistry. These are living organisms, and it’s messy. And your job as a citizen and as a decent human being is to constantly affirm and lift up and fight for treating people with kindness and respect and understanding.” Sasha and Malia have a smart dad.
I don’t know what it all means. I doubt I’ll ever be able to articulate how I’ve felt over the past two weeks. I am left only with snapshots from crossing almost halfway across the nation, clinging to a leaky life raft, an uncertain future and a desperate hope we’ll eventually make it to shore …
So that’s where we start — here, now, damaged, scared, grateful, surrounded by our beloved, by sad strangers, with lots of poor people to care for, a world to save, a bracing cup of coffee, walks begging to be taken, lonely people to check in with, Oreos and Cheetos to get through (someone’s got to do it), a whole new day before us, that we can screw up or not.
Sigh. Here we go.
— Anne Lamott
1. It never always gets worse. When things go bad, don’t give up. It’s just a bad stretch. Keep going and you’ll get a second wind. Maybe it won’t be a headwind.
2. Don’t look at the whole race. Just focus on one little part at a time. Relentless forward motion. Get one thing done, then the next. You’ll make it to the finish line. Just don’t try to look for it yet.
3. There’s no problem that can’t be fixed with the proper amount of duct tape.
Longtime readers will recall I shredded my spare tire in the misguided belief that it’s OK to drive on it while flat. Who knew? Today I picked up the shiny new spare tire, which cost 85 bucks. That seemed like a lot for a donut tire, but whatever. I placed it in the back of the hatchback on top of a bunch of U-Haul cardboard boxes and drove home.
Three hours later as I went out to leave for work, I noticed that the rear window had been smashed, and not in a good way. I’m guessing.they were after my shiny new spare tire but got interrupted because the parking lot has a lot of people coming and going.
Downside: Replacing the window will cost $326.09, roughly twice the value of my car.
Upside: 85 bucks for a shiny new spare tire doesn’t seem that expensive anymore.
Life is funny …