Wednesday, January 13, 2016


My mother gave me that little painting, and I can't quite figure out what's going on. I think it's Italian or maybe French, and there are bunches of women everywhere. They're rowing the boats, huddled on the street and marching with flags. I imagine it's a Kingdom of Women. Who knows where the men are -- perhaps behind the closed doors and windows? The little plastic soldier has been sitting there, on top of The Kingdom of Women, for years. I'm not sure what he thinks he's doing, but I like him there. There's a little plastic rhino perched just so on the useless owl butter dish on the kitchen windowsill, gray plastic on yellow. He lightens the owls' gravity.

When I was a young child, the mean kids would call me Elizabeth Aqueero. Sometimes it was Elizabeth Aweirdo.

In the exceptionally dark hours before dawn, I felt the usual dread and existential terror. I got up and stood in the dining room window watching the sunrise, again, the brilliant streaks of red and pink and orange over the neighbors' houses across the street.  They last about a minute or two before fading, overtaken by gray and blue. I felt silly, insignificant, for having those dark night of the soul thoughts, again. What I need is someone to be always beside me, under the gray sheets and pink linen, whispering in my ear pay no mind, those are lies, the world is pink, orange and blue, someone, something, a tiny plastic soldier-man who thinks he's keeping guard over The Kingdom of Women, a gray rhino restraining a yellow owl.



  1. Oh, Elizabeth. I have no words. Until your heart and brain and soul recover you have your little army man and plastic hippo teaching you about all of this.

    I think the women are suffragettes.

  2. No matter how strong you are, you need someone/something beside you. I love your reflection!


  3. I think of the women as revolutionaries, in the best sense of the word, Elizabeth. Not terrorists but those who bring about change for the better. The pain of childhood nicknames runs on forever. My childhood name, Elisabeth Schooneveldt, became Schooney, and for a while I was friends with a girl named Dianne Argoon. The taunts that followed: Schooney, the loony, goes out with Dianne Argooney. I can hear their voices still. How wonderful to be able to write this here and feel the shame of it drop away in resonance with your experience at the mockery of your second name and being thought weird.

  4. psst... I think that's a rhino!

    1. Silly me. Not sure why I typed hippo! Thank you!

  5. Dear Elizabeth!
    It isn't an italian city, for me, for the roof's shape....and I don't remember we had "suffragettes"!!!
    We had been in late for this matter, and not only for this!
    I can't speak about my nickname when I was young, it is an italian word I hated so much! It was "secchiona" meaning one studying too much!
    But I was also nice Elizabeth!:-)

    Strong Elizabeth!
    With love

  6. When we moved in here, I found a tiny plastic bull in the yard- some discard from a child's toy box. It sits on my window sill in the laundry room and I feel it watches over us. I have so many totems- we all need them. I still can't bring myself to say out loud what the other children called me when I was young. I was fat, so you can imagine.
    You are the most brilliant writer, shining a magnifying light on the smallest and largest things. I hope you know that.

  7. Really beautiful. I hope that soldier does his job well.

  8. And being a little sick can intensify those predawn thoughts and longings for protection.
    It makes me slightly melancholy to remember that my nickname in third grade was Slugger,
    for hitting home runs.

  9. Write it on a piece of paper, and wear it in a locket? We all need one of those little plastic peoplen.

  10. Wow. How do you write like that?.... I am so glad Sophie is doing better! And that you have that rhino, the plastic soldier-man, the pink and orange and blue. Wishing you a speedy recovery.

  11. I miss having someone to calm the middle of the night panic too. Everything seems so impossible and insurmountable when you are alone in bed in the middle of the night...

  12. I would take "Aqueero" as a compliment. But that's just me. :)

    I suppose the world is in fact neither orange-and-blue nor an utter darkness, but a mixture -- right? And no matter what it changes from one to the other and back again, ad infinitum, which I find a source of comfort.

  13. This made me laugh. Weirdo. Yup, weren't we all. My nickname at summer camp was 'Butch', um, I'm so NOT Butch but we had the 'Boy's Names Club' so therefore...

    Love you,


  14. Beautiful little piece of reflection, thank you for sharing with us. As for the middle of the night horrors, a Neil Young quote...
    Don't let it bring you down
    It's only castles burning
    Find someone that's turning
    And you will come around

  15. I, too, have those panicky moments in the dark just before dawn. I've taken to slipping a piece of paper under my pillow before I go to bed that says something supportive and kind - "remember, your track record for surviving hard things is 100%," or "the morning always comes and things look better in the light of day," or simply, "you are loved and that is enough." What is it about those hours?

  16. Those night watches are a heavy weight. How I would love the whispering voice of the tiny soldier man too. What is it with us who care and hold so much?

  17. Your "weirdness" floats my boat in my city of interesting women.



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