Material Embodiments

I first met Susan’s dining room furniture when we visited Fortress Fine Arts Storage in Boston, known to I-93 travelers as the building with the inflated gigantic padlock. I was in awe of the central elevator platform, which was large enough for a car, and the mystery of what valuables were within each surrounding compartment. I imagined a spy movie chase scene, the elevator moving a Lamborghini down as two gangs of masked bad guys acrobatically jumped on and off passing floors, grabbing gems and vying to drive the sleek sports car screeching onto the street.

dr-2000-big_sideboardOnce inside Susan’s quite tame unit, we removed the plastic covering and out came the dark reddish-brown mahogany, Georgian-style table, six chairs, two sideboards, and glass cabinet that comprised Susan’s “antique dining room furniture.” Manufactured in the early 1910s, a shellac sheen shows off the wood grain. The features of each piece, like the tapered chair stiles and legs, the sideboard drawer fronts, and the round table top, are outlined with bands of light-colored “satinwood” (probably birch). To set off the mahogany from the satinwood, each band of satinwood is etched with two lines of ebony. All in all, the set paints a picture of stately elegance.

Little did I know then, however, that errant napkin threads or clothing could snag and eventually pull off pieces of those satinwood bands. Such pieces would join their kin in an envelope already in one of the sideboards, marked “D.R. FURNITURE,” in Susan’s chicken-scratch all-caps. I would soon learn that none of the furniture was rock solid; when an elbow leaned too hard, a body shifted suddenly, or a cabinet door fully opened, the furniture groaned. I didn’t know that underlying elegance was infirmity.

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Notes from My Trip to the Old Country

G.P.S.

A few weeks ago, I travelled back to Lincoln, Nebraska, my hometown, on what’s left of the prairie. I hadn’t been back since my parents moved 15 years ago and, for 20 years before that, only at Christmas time. Now, in a blink of an eye, it was Lincoln High’s 35th reunion, and the first time I’d been back as someone dropping in from the clouds of the past, as a real stranger.

I’ve lived in Malden, Massachusetts, part of Boston’s urban merging of cities and towns for 26 years. Yet, if you tell me what street a business is on, I’ll have no idea where it is. Instead of street names, you have to describe to me the surrounding area and what you pass on the way from here to there. For me, navigating the Boston area is like finding my way back on poorly marked hiking trails–it’s all about how things look and my general sense of direction.  Continue reading Notes from My Trip to the Old Country

Malden Girls at Danvers Soccer Tournament

I sent this to the Malden papers. I thought I’d share it here. I was so happy with how our eight-ten year old girls were playing soccer together, I was jumping up and down on the sideline with excitement!

Malden Youth Soccer U10 teamOver Memorial Day weekend, a Malden Girls Under-10 team went to the Danvers Invitational Tournament to test their mettle. The girls, from two different Malden Youth Soccer teams, quickly became mates, played great, and had a wonderful time at the Danvers Invitational.  They left with fodder for great memories, uniform patches from the teams they played against, trophies, and a record of 2-1-1.

As a newly combined team with girls nervous to play in their first tournament, the first game was a little rough. On sweltering Saturday afternoon, Malden lost to Andover 0-7. Head coach Maria Cotter remarked that the score would have been much closer had the match been their third or fourth of the tournament instead of the first. “The girls gained confidence with every game and pulled together as a team really quickly.” Hugo Bonilla and Kim Brookes served as assistant coaches.

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Humor: A Hard Way to Write an Essay

Jennifer Crystal challenged our Grub Street class to write a 500-1,000 word essay “using Unintended humor. Sign reading: No Trespassing. Police Prosecuted. humor to make a point.” In speech and writing, I pepper people with puns and jokes. But humor for revelation?

In our assignment from Writing Well, William Zinsser demonstrates comic devices. To question women’s public adornment with hair curlers in the 1960s, Zinsser parodied an advice column. That seems easy enough.

Dear Jennifer,
Using humor to make a point is really hard. For once in my life, I can’t think of anything at which to poke fun.
-Kim

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