Gifting: Ten for Today

A day of gift giving, my family gathered to celebrate the holidays early. As usual, I was the master distributor of the 75-odd gifts (or more) to the anticipating gift-ees. The small children lent a hand.
 
My two adult children (or near) stared into their phones but were grateful and gracious, for the most part. They liked what I surprised them with this year–Totoro themed shirts and tiny ceramic hedgehog planters from the gift store at the Japanese market–the small gifts as appetizers to the main dish, the blue and white wrapped cash wad.
 
Some years I’m not as successful. I’m not good at giving or receiving gifts. I mean, I’m thankful in just the right degree, I’m sure, when given presents. But gifts trigger slight anxiety in me, a discomfort with the offering. 


First, I don’t want for anything, and especially material things. Second, the offeror anticipates my response. All givers want to know they chose well, or already know they haven’t but hope to be surprised, or just want to get past the whole ordeal.
 
It’s excruciating the subtle yet deeply cutting undertones, nuances and inflections inherent in gift exchanges. Always lurking behind the handing over is “Will he/she like it?” And the risk is “No, he/she has that overly thankful, forced corners way up smile with nothing behind the eyes.” Nope. Rejection.
 
Honestly, the best gifts I’ve ever received, I can’t even remember. My husband gifted me lovely, thoughtful treasures through the years, from fashion wear to Shiraz to diamonds, but my most treasured gifts were bestowed upon me un-offered.
 
I inherited a good sense of humor, and so many people happenstance’d into my days with a laugh and an irony for smirks. My mother’s logophilia seeped into my bones too, and I can’t measure that reward, that unearned prize.
 
I have long legs and patience, capacious passion and anger, boundless love and delicate touch, all ignited at the thrust of that last push and first inhale–at birth. My DNA, what a gift! And those who’ve spent their time with me, enjoyed my story, shit on me, broke my heart, and prayed for me, all presents: bow-less, ribbon-less and priceless clay-of-me potters.
 
I remember those gifts by name.

  

Ten Minute Write for July 13th: the divinity of detail


July 13, 2016
Writing to, from and down the bones sounds simple enough–the detail, the divine detail–but the word fount must be vast and strong. Specificity takes knowing the names of things, everything. I can hardly remember my own. Names.

I lack an honest pen. I am just learning to live with things as they are, not according to my vision and story, but as they are. I’ve embellished on life, added color, flexed the edges of pathways and tables to make them fit a certain slant in my sight. It sounds like fabricating–lying–but I think it’s appropriate to call it crafting. Yes, there is a line, a circle too. But crafting is legitimate, carving stories from wood and steel. I do it. We all do. Ultimately we are the stories we write ourselves into from everything we deem real, lived and experienced.

There is a rolled up tube, wide and tall as my thigh, slightly taller, that stays tubed by a rubber band, awaiting a frame as it sits vertically atop my desk, white, serene, divided in half by that serpentine rubber band. Inside, I have seen the cow skull atop the man, sitting in the foreground with powerful arms and lean body, brown man in the heat, in the background a rustic desert cafe one sees in dusty towns off long, leaning highways into the horizon. He wears a skull as ritual, in his town, an African town, somewhere outside Johannesburg. 

The line sketch print, presented to me as a birthday present, one I asked for after spying this piece at a friend’s house art gallery opening, pleased me softly and widely. Perhaps the cow bones spoke the truth in human animality, like the Native American mask that hangs above the fire place: antlers, fox skins and painted man. They came to be as someone’s vision. My husband bought both pieces for me, witnessing the missives sent without reading them. Perception. Vision. 

That is my story, my detail of notice and narration, memory and matters.