Friday, April 21, 2017

Really the BOTH of them were torpedoes!

My mom once turned to me and said “I hate my mother.”
I was surprised. I had thought that it was only me that was driven by the (irrational?) fear of turning into my mother.  That’s when I understood the anxiety as universal.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The lessons I learned (from the aforementioned incident)

Lessons learned?  
The value of scissors: I went out and bought my own pair. And then another, and then another: shears for fabric, a pair for paper, kitchen scissors, embroidery snips, pinking shears, a pair for the car, one for my purse, and etc.

The importance of hair: I save every ponytail that I cut from the head of each of my children.  Although I get my hair dyed professionally, I always cut it myself. And I never cut anyone else’s hair without being asked. 

And finally, I try to stay away from making statements about hair that might imply judgement or criticism.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Pinking Shears

I don’t quite remember how this exactly happened. In the midst of the process of working on that dress, there she was, my grandmother, Clara Held, upper arms swinging, curved arthritic fingers of one hand wrapped around my hair, pinking shears in the other.

These are not the original set of scissors, nor is that my hair. Mine was dark, thick, springy, quite matted, and thus the focus of her anger. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Sewing with Ma

My grandmother, Clara S. Held, lived in Coop City, the Bronx. She was one of the first residents. I remember going with my family to see these massive towers being built. Coop City is the northernmost edge of the city; it’s right there on I-95 as you are about to enter into Westchester. Monochromatic and gargantuan brick structures. Tessellating endlessly in the distance.

Coop City wasn’t on any subway line. In order to get to our apartment in Manhattan, my grandma would have to take a bus, then a subway, and then walk. She could’ve taken the express bus, but that was a few dollars more. Then, when she arrived, laden with shopping bags, she’d get right to work, cleaning, consolidating. After her visits, my dad would complain that he couldn’t find anything in the refrigerator, my mom would puzzle over why her two distinct varieties of coffee grounds had been mixed into a single batch.

My mother was teaching me how to sew, we’d picked out a pattern and fabric. These photos were of the two of them working on a dress; it’s gone now, but I still have a bunch of scraps of the fabric. It’s mildly fuzzy with no elasticity.  The dress had gathers on the shoulders, long sleeved, long waisted, loose, below the knee. I was about 20! Our efforts rewarded me with a fantastic sack. We weren't even Anabaptists.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

In our kitchen. 28 West 69th St.

My mother, Roberta Held-Weiss. I think this was late spring, 1985. Right before all hell broke loose, and her tumors metastasized. 
We'd lived in that apartment since 1973, for twelve years. That wallpaper was there when we moved in, and the kitchen was quite small, facing west. Its one window let floods of afternoon and evening light in. In the summer, the room was unbearable; my grandmother, who spent many hot afternoons making food that we didn't really need, or rearranging our fridge, would complain incessantly. "I can't stand the heat, I had a west facing window in my kitchen in Crotona Park North, I said never again."

Thursday, April 6, 2017

At home in the Bronx

My grandmother, Clara Held. 1986. Coop City, Bronx.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Thanksgiving 1984

My grandparents, Clara and Harry Held. New York City, New York.