On shelves soon (2/19th, I believe): One big Happy Family is a new and exciting anthology that I happen to have a piece in. Check it out.
“From gay adoption to absentee fathers to international adoption to green-card marriages, the reality of the American family is changing. Over the last three decades the American family has morphed from a husband, two kids, a dog, and a picket fence to something more complex. What is the modern definition of family? In a collection of 18 honest, personal, provocative, and affecting essays from an array of writers, One Big Happy Family offers a fresh look at how contemporary families are adapting to changing social, economic and environmental realities.”
I don’t know why I’m on this cockroach kick. Over the summer, I had decided that I wanted to start meditating again. On those occasional mornings when I woke up before Naima, I’d go downstairs with Sora and begin clearing the room of cockroaches. By the time I finished, depending on the count that day, I usually had one or two minutes of sitting, before Naima started screaming for me. After many mornings of this, I realized, that the clearing of the cockroaches had become my meditation. The sitting part was just for good measure.
However, now it’s cold, so not so many roaches. Abuki ate a dead one the other day. In her prime, she was a wicked fly catcher. Now, she barely recognizes death. Some mornings, she doesn’t even hear her food hitting the dog bowl. Ain’t aging a bitch.
Perhaps that’s why I began with the cockroach story. Reminiscing over the days in my early 20’s, when I was stupid enough to spray a bathroom full of roaches with pepper spray in a rundown hotel in Harlem, reputed to have housed Malcolm X once upon a time; young enough to love hard rain in the summer,and strangers with stories on their fingers like firecrackers.
Actually, I’m still pretty stupid and I’ll listen to anyone with a good story. Now it’s Naima who loves the rain. Sora just celebrated her first birthday. We didn’t do anything special. I baked a chicken, but she didn’t even stay up long enough to watch us eat it. She cried a lot that night. Took a warm shower. And earlier in the day, she grabbed a small brown jar out of the refrigerator containing her dried and powdered placenta, and disappeared it somewhere in our one-bedroom apartment.
I still have not found it. Some probably find it odd that I even have placenta in my refrigerator. Others, with Ziploc bags of Placentas from various births still in their freezer might find it completely natural, which it is.
We kept Naima’s umbilical chord and placenta attached to her for half the day. We were going to cut it off earlier, but when Dylan went to clamp her chord, she squirmed, I screamed, and it stayed. Later that night we fried half of it up with onions and ate it, and dried the other half and gave it to a Chinese medicine doctor who ground it up for us. Sora’s stayed on for over 24 hrs. So, we didn’t eat it. We did dry it and grind it up with our grain grinder, and as soon as I started taking it, or even eating some of the dried chunks, the painful onset of contractions that came when she nursed, that supposedly gets worse with each child, went away. Hooray for placenta!
I’m not sure what to make of it all either: The rain; the past an unkind silhouette; Sora toddling around in the mornings, with a jar of her placenta, her first mother, held above her head, and on the day of her first birthday burying it in some dark corner. Perhaps the cockroaches made away with it, a brown jar upon their backs, taking it to the sick and the sad to rid them of ghosts and contemplation.