Stack of Hats Friday Round-Up

My mother bought me brown oxford shoes when I was in third grade and the surprise and embarrassment of those shoes have stuck with me all these many years. I remember this because last night’s writing instructor, teaching about the difference between scene and summary in story telling, asked us to write a short descriptive scene from our childhood. And boom, there were those homely, mortifying shoes on my little ankleted feet, beneath my wooden school desk. In the story that is growing, the shoes become heroic, a model for all the brown shoes and boots to follow in my life. More on that next week.

The Republicans in our state have discovered the magic of darkening the Democratic Senate candidate’s skin, labeling him as “Different,” and juxtaposing his face with scary, forbidding crime scenes. It’s masterful how the ads make explicit the GOP’s core beliefs but also work at those tiny persistent scraps of racism that exist in everyone. The ads are hideous but impressive for their audacity. And they seem to have taken a bit of the wind out of the Democratic candidate’s sails. I can see why. Racism is exhausting.

I am reading Caste, the Origins of Our Discontent by Isabel Wilkerson. Also this week, I watched the three-part Ken Burns production, The U.S. and the Holocaust. This accident of fate or timing has had an extraordinary impact on me, upending what I thought I knew about both the Holocaust and slavery, Reconstruction, and Jim Crow. The effect is that of profound solemnity and sorrow and unspoken but enormous apology. To whom does one apologize, actually? To history maybe. To everyone who carries the burden, for sure, which is all of us, truth be told.

I can stand up and sit back down fifteen times in thirty seconds. I know this because I was assessed yesterday at a falls prevention event for older adults. I am afraid of falling because it seems such a death knell for old people and have been feeling like I would inevitably become very vulnerable to this happening. So, I was heartened by my good score yesterday and by the young physical therapist who said my legs were strong and my balance pretty good. I find that doing things like this – figuring out how to prevent falling – has become part of my work as an older person. Fifteen times. That’s not nothin’.

We have cleared all the hats from the dining room table. It was the grand emptying of the closet, hats heaped on the table to sit for a week while we circled, considering. Would I ever wear that hat again? Do I need to wear a hat frequently in order to keep it or is the possibility of wearing it sufficient? Mind you these were baseball caps and stocking caps, not fedoras or sun hats. Those are kept somewhere else and have an altogether different status. I have a hat life. That wasn’t always true, but it is now. I have hats.

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