sonder – n.
the realization that each random passerby
is living a life
as vivid and complex as your own.
THE DICTIONARY OF OBSCURE SORROWS – John Koenig
kerrytown, ann arbor, mi, usa – march 2019
while much of the globe is preoccupied with the world cup from june 12-july 13,
here is an alternative championship that could give fifa a run for its money.
the world toe-wrestling championships.
in 1976, when pubgoers in derbyshire, england grew bored with arm wrestling,
they began locking big toes and trying to pin their opponent’s foot to the ground.
rules state that competitors must yell out ‘toe much!’ if they want to throw in the towel.
competition is serious.
world champion, alan ‘nasty’ nash
has come home with broken toes nine times!
just play. have fun. enjoy the game.
credits: cameracrewgermany.com, bbc news, mental floss magazine
and i couldn’t be happier.
part of my family lives down under.
they will be up top with us for a while.
and i will have my dream
of all of the daughters
and all of the sons in law
and all of the grand babies
in one place at one time.
and it is sure to be an adventure.
Family faces are magic mirrors. Looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present, and future.
Gail Lumet Buckley
headed out to the gym yesterday to workout and watch the big game. the university of michigan wolverines were playing basketball against our instate rivals, the michigan state spartans. i figured i’d serve myself up a little pleasure with my pain.
as i got closer to the gym, i noticed that it was surrounded by an astounding number of opposing choices: taco bell, burger king, cottage inn pizza, noodles, mcdonalds, gourmet garden chinese, castle liquor store, subway, zingerman’s roadhouse. i could almost imagine my chalupa and mexican pizza and a cold beer.
or, there was –
it would have been so easy to accidentally turn into one of those other driveways, and then the next hour would be spent indulging in food and drink heaven instead of in gym hell.
i made the turn.
and when i found myself in the gym, i was not disappointed, and knew i had made the right choice. there were father/sons, couples, singletons, and people of every shape and size and color imaginable. what we all had in common, was the turn we made to get there.
the familiar maize and blue home team shirts were everywhere, and people cheered while on the elliptical, treadmill, with weights, and bars, and balls, and machines. it was a great first half. and while i can’t say where everyone went for the second half, the wolverines played a magnificent game, and we won in the end. go blue! sometimes, it’s just a matter of choosing the right driveway. and if i happen to turn into the taco bell driveway next time, so be it.
One might as well try to ride two horses moving in different directions,
as to try to maintain in equal force two opposing or contradictory sets of desires.
image credits: michigan daily, oldtowneast.com, sweethorseranch.com
“Remember that when you think you are seeing giants, they may not be giants at all; perhaps it is you who is the dwarf.”
and yet another true story, of path-crossing, and timing, and luck, and circumstance. i was on my way to school for a faculty work day, and walked into a huge multi-purpose all-things-you-could-ever-want-and more store, (air compressors, makeup, yarn, chicken tenders, cabbage, towels, scotch, and goldfish – all sold there), and i went to get a cart.
as i pulled my cart out of the corral, i turned and was stopped in my tracks because –
i saw a giant.
his hands were huge and he stood right in front of me, manning his cart, ready to head off into the aisles, in search of whatever diverse collection of items he may on the hunt for. and everything about him was huge. stunningly massive.
my eyes slowly looked up, and up, and just kept going. and going. he was the tallest man i’ve ever seen close up, other than a basketball player, but he was not built anything like a basketball player, he was built like an oak tree- huge, and solid, and unbending.
i was in awe of his physical presence and as i kept looking up and looked up finally got to his face, he smiled at me with a huge giant’s grin. i smiled back, he seemed so gentle, not scary at all, as i had always imagined a giant would be if i ever encountered one. and we headed off through the aisles, each on our own retail scavenger hunt.
when i got to the grocery section of this massive store that is a like small city, i turned the corner from the cereal aisle, and who should i encounter –
but a second giant!
again, another surprised reaction from me, but i just took it in, and wondered about the odds of finding two men of this ilk, in the same building at the same time. i thought perhaps there was some kind of convention or fest going on in the area, that both may have attended. sort of specialized, like a ‘mothers of twins’ event, but for really, really, really big people.
i finished my shopping, not crossing paths with either of them again, and went on to school. i sat through the professional development meetings, but could not shake the memory of these men. i tried to imagine what a day spent as a giant must be like, how it must be to always have people surprised by encountering them, wondering if people were kind or cruel to them, and wondering what kind of items a giant shops for.
at lunch that day, i sat with one of our phys ed teachers and told him about my stop at the store on the way to school. he got a very surprised look on his face, asked me if i was kidding, and told me he was shocked that i brought this up because he had also run into a giant at another location of the same store across town, that very same morning. it was a surprising encounter for him as well, and he’d taken a picture of his giant because he didn’t think anyone would believe him. he shared the picture on his phone with me, and it was yet another giant that i had not met.
what are the odds of this set of circumstances? that we would each encounter one or more giants on the same morning, in the same brand of store, in different locations, on different sides of town, that he had taken a picture, and that we actually had lunch together, and it would come up in our conversation?
it raised so many questions. why so many giants in one state at one time? why at this chain of stores? did they offer a giants’ discount, like they did for senior citizens each tuesday? or did the giants feel comfortable there because the store itself was so giant? how did the universe conspire to have us all cross paths on the same day and then have the two of us cross paths to share our stories and be amazed by it all?
we will never know the answers to any of these questions, but it was a huge day for all of us.
Definition of giant in English:
an imaginary or mythical being of human form but superhuman size.
an abnormally tall or large person, animal, or plant.
a person of exceptional talent or qualities: a giant among sportsmen
Astronomy a star of relatively great size and luminosity compared to ordinary stars of the main sequence, and 10-100 times the diameter of the sun.
“Well, first of all,” said the BFG, “human beans is not really believing in giants, is they? Human beans is not thinking we exist.”
credits: library of congress, roald dahl, the bfg (the big, friendly, giant), quentin blake, harper collins publishing, oxford dictionary
made it downtown to the hair appointment. saw people out with skis, babies, guitars, coffees, dogs, eating under awnings outside, smiling, calm, and happy, and chatting, and skittering along through all of the weather. what’s more snow and freezing rain when you’ve already had 40 inches or so this month? life goes on. and now i like to imagine that my hair will look stunning as i listen to my’ extreme winter rock mix ‘on my iPod, and shovel my driveway, yet again. we are a hearty lot.
The poetry of the earth is never dead.
image credit: jahna vashti
image credit: wwll vintage gas ration ad
i love my carpool. there are only two of us, but any more than one living thing in a car at the same time, and i consider it a pool. on most days, we drive together to and from school, in our cars with character – mine is ‘diablo rojo,’ and m’s is ‘sharfonda.’ driving together has many benefits: not only do we save money on gas, and help preserve a smidgen of the world’s energy supply, but the company is wonderful.
we are very much alike, and talk about everything. and make up poetry and tell stories and laugh and go off on tangents and share philosophies and cry and sing. and get lost occasionally, as neither of us has an innate sense of direction. we compare our students, ‘m’ teaches english and poetry at our high school and i, on the opposite end of the spectrum, teach kindergarten in our lower school. even so, we find that many of our student and family and teaching issues are very similar, and we listen and support each other and offer advice. our drive usually takes us about 45 minutes, if all is well along the way, and we don’t end up in some place we hadn’t planned on.
but – on some days, things happen. life may be challenging, we are worrying about someone or something, there are issues on the road, there is a tornado watch, a blizzard, a rain squall, or construction events, or we feel like we are driving through a video game, and we have had it, and need some extra support.
we discovered our cure one day, when it had been a particularly challenging drive. and m suddenly yelled out, ‘quick, turn in! it’s a tim horton’s and we need to go there now!’ i was behind the wheel, and diablo rojo did as requested. as we entered the drive-through we decided that we needed (and deserved), a few ‘tim-bits’ (delicious tiny donut holes), to help us make it the rest of the way and to instantly give us a pick me up. we quickly scanned the menu options:
10 pack – 1.50
20 pack – 2.50
40 pack – 4.75
we decided it was a 40 timbits kind of day.
and we were soon on our way, making up timbit haiku and laughing once again.
image credit: http://www.newswire.ca
Chef Andrea Nicholson, of Top Chef Canada, with the Tim Hortons Timbits cake she created.
Nearly four feet tall, the cake contains more than 1,500 Timbits.
for chef andrea, it was a 1,500 timbits kind of day, must have been a tough one.
But friendship is the breathing rose, with sweets in every fold. – Oliver Wendell Holmes