There’s a feeling sometimes, that catches in my chest, and I wonder if I can possibly describe it. Is it actually possible to feel tremendous joy and sadness at exactly the same time? And I don’t mean in the form of two conflicting emotions, but both part of the same, singular thing, at a single, cellular level.
I suppose we’re all capable of holding two opposing ideas simultaneously — who was it that said this was a sign of adulthood? Or was it of insanity?
So I eat ice cream I shouldn’t eat, and drink too much wine with dinner, and smoke cigarettes I shouldn’t smoke, and stay up too late at night even when I have to set my alarm for the morning; I consider myself to be an adult, a reasonable, intelligent adult, who knows this is her one mind, life, body, chance, and should think of herself as a body to live from not in.
Meanwhile I watch my older children struggle with difficult bosses or worry about if they’re going to make enough money to feed themselves adequately or help pay their college tuition so they don’t owe their firstborn when they’re done with school, and realize how little our lives and concerns differ. At their age, I figured that, by my age, I’d have it all figured out; I don’t know if I’m more saddened that I don’t for me, or for them.
I was looking at my hands today while I was practicing the piano, and again just now, as I was thinking about all of the joy I’d like them to hold on to, and the pain I’d like to catch and carry away, like taking the compost out and throwing it into the pile by the fence where it can become rich black dirt, or food for the deer so maybe they’ll leave my hostas alone in the spring. But they’re just these little, bony hands, with constantly clipped fingernails and callouses around the corners from hammering away at the piano keys for hours a day, and despite all that, they don’t really seem to be all that strong.
I want to laugh, and cry, and my stomach to stop hurting, and my right ear to stop chirping, and a day just to sit on the front porch in a chair in the sun with a good book and a lightly-chilled under-oaked glass of chardonnay and my husband in the living room with Mahler on the stereo and something good bubbling on the stove.
I’ve decided to be a rabid feminist when I grow up, but am also a wife and mother and daughter and teacher and friend and musician and writer and wonder if the others somehow preclude the one (Isurehopenot), and there are so many things I think I might like to be if I had enough time to think of them all; when all I really want, sometimes, is just to figure out who the hell me is, and what exactly it is that I want.
What I want – a healthy body and mind, my husband in bed next to me every night, happy, successful children, a life free of worry. I have most of that, most of the time, except for the last; wonder if there’s a way to just turn that off, then.
She deems it appropriate to bully 17-year-olds into working more hours than is legal in our fair state under threat of being fired; a necessity brought on by the fact that she’s such a stark raving lunatic two people quit and one got fired in the past 7 days.
The turnover at this “restaurant” has been ~ 20 employees over the past year. I am actually quite proud of Second Son for sticking it out this long, but I think maybe enough is enough.
Out of curiosity, I decide to peruse our state’s child labor laws, and find this interesting list of prohibitions regarding tasks one might find in the workplace:
Agency:Energy, Labor & Economic Growth
Minors 14- to 17-years-old may work in businesses where alcoholic beverages are sold as long as the sale of food or other goods is at least 50 percent of gross sales. Minors less than 16 years of age may not work where alcohol is consumed regardless of sales percentage.
Minors under the age of 18 cannot sell, serve, or furnish alcoholic beverages.
For information on Liquor Control Commission regulations concerning selling and serving alcoholic beverages visit http://www.michigan.gov/lcc or call 1-866-893-2121.
Minors covered by the act may not work in any occupation determined by act or rule to be hazardous. Examples of hazardous work include, but are not limited to:
Contact with hazardous substances, chemicals, explosives or radioactive substances.
Driving and work as an outside helper (pizza delivery, etc.).
Jobs in the mining, logging and sawmill industry.
Jobs using woodworking machinery.
Brazing, welding, soldering or heat treating, for those less than 16 years of age.
Work on construction sites, roofing operations, excavation or demolition sites, bridges, streets, or highways.
Slaughtering, butchering, meat cutting, meat packing, rendering, or tanning.
Occupations involving power driven equipment, tools, saws, or machinery. (Bakery machines, paper product machines, meat slicers, metal-forming, punching and shearing machines).
Occupations involving the operation of, assisting in the operation of, and riding on hoisting apparatus including forklifts. Minors 16 to 17 years old may work under elevated equipment.
Minors covered by the act may not work in any occupation determined by administrative review to be hazardous under the authority of Section 3. Examples of hazardous work include, but are not limited to:
Occupations involving assembling, disassembling, and operating power-driven amusement rides.
Jobs with exposure to contagious diseases and bloodborne pathogens.
Operating a boat or other watercraft on a public waterway.
Loading and unloading goods from conveyors for those less than 16 years of age.
Handling loaded firearms of any gauge or caliber including those that are air powered.
Operating easy tippers used to lift garbage carts for emptying into dumpsters.
Operating golf carts and gator type utility vehicles on public roadways, for those less than 16 years of age it’s entirely prohibited.
Occupations as go-cart spotters for those less than 16 years of age.
Removing filters, pouring through filters, and moving receptacles containing grease or oil when the temperature is in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Un-jamming, servicing, or repairing Kansmackers.
Jobs using power-driven mowers, edgers, weed eaters, hedge clippers, tillers, wheelbarrows, thatchers, aerators, and snow blowers for those less than 16 years of age.
Life guarding at natural bodies of water, such as lakes and rivers.
Filling prescriptions, working behind the counter where prescriptions are filled or delivering pharmaceuticals by car, foot, bicycle, and/or public transportation.
Dispensing propane (LP) gas.
Operation of power-driven tire changer used to mount or dismount tires from vehicle rims.
Occupations involving door-to-door and street sales for profit making companies including mobile sales crews for those less than 16 years of age.
Jobs using chef, boning, butcher, meat cleaver, filet, and skinning or machete knives.
I’m good until I get to the 10th bullet in the last category.
This is listed so casually, between a long list of things I recognize: golf carts and filters and grease or oil and power-driven mowers and hedge clippers and natural bodies of water, it is obviously expected that I know what this is.
I think perhaps it has been included as some kind of a joke by a malicious state employee, perhaps to see if anyone is paying attention, but alas, no, this is an actual thing.
Got this random catalog in the mail yesterday, and was flipping through when I encountered a 2-page spread displaying these treasures:
Having a hard time deciding which are the most hideous, so have decided to open it up to a vote. Click on individual pictures if you want to get a closer look, but if you have a weak stomach, I suggest shielding your eyes.
Extra credit to who among you can identify the pair fitting my husband’s description: “Achilles was wearing those when he killed Hector.”
There was an ice storm two nights ago,
well into March; and our collective
indignation at the perpetual rebuttal
of spring did little to counter the
wind and rain.
I dreamt that night, to the clatter
of ice pebbles against the windows,
of water at the window ledges
and people wandering, stranded by
floodwaters and picnicking on the grass.
Today the sun gleamed apologetically
and the lilting light of early sunset
shone against branches and grasses of glass
surrounding murky brown ponds.
I thought of the green centers of things
waiting for warmth,
and of the days our breath is caught by
beauty, or pain,
and that center of pale loneliness
we all carry within;
that by which we know ourselves —
or our source of gratitude on those
spare, sunny days.