Monday, July 25, 2011

Goddesses in the Dirt: Everything But the Kitchen Sink

Unearthing the Divine Feminine, one archetype at at time.....
As Monty Python says: And now for something completely different.

Every other Monday I publish a new article in the series: Goddesses in the Dirt: Unearthing the Divine Feminine, One Archetype at a Time. For this week my Goddess story comes in the form of an entry to a short fiction contest sponsored by The Tenth Daughter of Memory. The muse for this contest is: "A Better Ending."

A note to my readers: Even though I normally document my above world journeys, archaeological and otherwise — I agree with Persephone that the most mysterious journey of all is heading into the Underworld.......and excavating one's voice.

Thank you for reading Travels with Persephone. And for those of you who comment, I deeply appreciate your words.


Goddesses in the Dirt: Issue #15 - Everything But the Kitchen Sink


Genelle lifted the lid off the tupperware container. The smell was so bad that she dropped it and stepped back, away from the granite countertop. She stood for a moment, then placed her hands on the cold, gleaming surface and steadied herself. It was real granite, alright. Black, finely veined with blue - a sort of Tiffany box blue, a color not known to nature. 


"It'll go perfectly with the cherry cabinets," Craig had said the day they went to Home Expo to pick it out. "Hand made by the Amish."


She remembers laughing to herself. How ridiculous. Here she was, thinking about how she was going to tell her friends that the cabinets in her new kitchen were made by a Luddite with a fuzzy beard who wore a straw hat and rode a horse and buggy. Did that make the cabinets more precious, more........desirable? What funny things we felt we needed to do to impress people. 


Like that asshole law partner of her husband's......what was his name? Larry? She had to attend one of those nauseating firm dinners the week before and was seated next to the guy. He had gone on all night about his new Porsche, his new McMansion, his latest vacation, his latest wife. Made to order with liposuction, lip implants and the usual boob job. And after pounding four Tito's Handmade Vodkas on the rocks, she overheard him, slumped on the junior partner seated to his other side, boast slurringly about his new mistress. Also made to order with liposuction, lip implants and the usual boob job. The guy may have been mind-numbingly boring, not to mention amoral, but at least he was consistent in his love of plastic.


She started to shut the lid on the 5 day old lasagna then thought better of it and dumped the contents into the sink. She leaned over and wiped the bowl, flushing the remains down the garbage disposal. Placing the retractable faucet back into its housing she recalled the argument she had had with her husband.


"I need a double sink Craig," she had said as they stood side by side, staring at an Everest of stainless steel mounted to the wall of the showroom. "I've always had a double sink."


She couldn't imagine it any other way. She had become used to balancing the dirty pan on the bridge between the main bowl and the smaller garbage disposal side. Tip the pan and the sludge just slid off into the disposal. Easy. Why change now?


"A single bowl makes more sense when you think about it," he replied. "Just one big size fits all your pans." He ran his hand across the lip of the bowl, bolted to the wall like a trophy head. "No tipping necessary."


"But I like tipping," she said. The store made her feel as if she was trapped in a box canyon, her voice echoing and reverberating off endless walls of tile, fabric, and plate nickel, disappearing somewhere in the appliance section.


"Honey, I've read a lot about this type of sink," he went on. "Consumer Reports states that it's the best one to buy. It's made out of this amazing material - it's sort of a fusion between silicon and granite."


"I don't give a shit if it's made out of Kryptonite!" Her voice was growing louder. She noticed people turning around, looking at her. "I want a double sink. This company doesn't make double sinks."


"But this one is big enough to hold all your pots - you don't need a double sink!"


She felt a burning sensation around her neck, heat shooting into her face.


"What the hell do you know about sinks, Craig? You don't cook. I cook - I'm the one who's operating in this space. What makes you think you can choose what kind of sink I use?"


She felt her underarms getting wet, her blouse sticking to her back. She knew it didn't matter. Why did it matter? Why did she need to win this argument? They were installing a new kitchen for God's sake. That's all it was. A kitchen. It was not the Battle of Bull Run. She looked down at the floor. It was that linoleum that Home Expo specialized in. Black and white tiles, made to look like you were in the loggia of the White House.


"I just want a double sink. Stainless steel. It's what I've always had before and I want to continue having it."


"But Consumer Reports says-"


"Fuck Consumer Reports. Why is it you have to reverse engineer every decision we make in our lives? Even going to the movies — you can't just pick up and go see something on a whim. It has to be given a stellar review by A.O. Scott in the New York Times. Otherwise it doesn't have the Craig stamp of approval."


"Honey, don't you think you're getting just a little out of kilter over this? I mean, it's just a sink."


She looked around. The store was like a huge, suffocating barn, filled with everything a modern couple needed: fake Oriental rugs, about 5000 hideous light fixtures, endless rows of toilets sitting like thrones in individual fake bathrooms. Some of them black. Who the hell needed a crapper that looked like modern art? I mean, you sit on it and shit on it. 


"I know it's just a sink. But it's my sink. I use it. I cook with it. I clean it. I should choose it."


Craig made that un-huh sound he always did when he was losing interest in the conversation and started to move away. She watched him, his back silhouetted against the faux alabaster sconces in the lighting section. The Casablanca ceiling fans caught her attention, the whup whupping sound was suddenly deafening, dopplering off the canyon walls. Hovering just above his head, the propellers seemed poised to decapitate. 


On Sunday nights, when she was a little girl, she used to watch the plate spinner at the end of the Ed Sullivan show. Sitting on the worn leather ottoman, transfixed by the man racing from pole to pole, the rods swaying under the pressure, keeping those white china plates revolving like so many neutrons in orbit, she held a Barbie doll in her lap. She had saved up enough nickels from her allowance to go to Ben Frankin's Five and Dime to purchase her own Barbie. But the only one left on the shelf was not the blond ponytailed one with the black and white striped swimsuit that she had wanted - it was the one with a short haircut. Bubbly hair that was coarse to the touch. Couldn't be combed. She never knew she had a choice. Or to wait for the one she wanted. She just remembered handing over that box of tinkling silver nickels, heavy in her hand, and settling for what was left on the shelf. 


With no blond ponytail to style, the only fun thing to do with this Barbie was to remove and replace its earrings: tiny pearls at the end of spears impaling its head. Eventually the head came off the neck, leaving a stub of ugly flesh protruding from square shoulders, swiveling arms and breasts that were probably like the sonovabitch lawyer's wife.......or mistress. Perky. Plastic.


"But it will dent." Craig reached up on the shelf to replace a sample faucet head. "And once that happens, you will have to live with the damage."


She felt herself getting lightheaded. The furniture section was just across the White House loggia tiles. She sat down on a fake leather club chair; the material crunched under her thighs. She watched as Craig moved further down the aisle, pulling out faucets and retracting them, battling a phalanx of silver snakes, until he disappeared around the corner.


 "Yes, I will have to live with the damage," she said under her breath. 


Eventually the sink was installed. Along with the Craig/Consumer Reports approved Finnish faucet. Over time it contained charred cookie sheets. Grill pans that had to soak overnight to remove sticky, burnt-on residue. And dishes from the firm dinners she hosted, her stomach leaning against the Kryptonite lip, watching uneaten dregs of Cherries Jubilee spin down the disposal in a bloody mass, drowning out the drunken voices from the dining room. 


The sink was even deep enough, as Craig had promised, to hold a roaster after Thanksgiving dinner. She learned to scrape off the food without balancing the pan on the bridge between the sinks. She learned, over time, not to miss it. She could never tell if this one had actually been better, she just knew it was another ending in life that she had settled for. But she prided herself in learning to make do with what she was given. She had learned to balance in another way. Like plates, perched on top of poles, spinning and always about to fall.




Photo: nancysdreamhouse

44 comments:

  1. Welcome back!

    I love this. It plays loud and cystal clear for me. It's more like a memory than a bit of "fiction," right down to the fixtures stretching endlessly in row after row (ad nauseam)at Home Expo. I guess that's because it is.

    I think perhaps we're bred to settle.

    P.S. I agree with Craig about the single sink, though...

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  2. This is very sad. And the thing is, a Bubblecut Barbie is still not worth what a Pony Tail is, even to collectors.

    Sitting here shaking head at all of this.

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  3. I FELT her anger and frustration ACUTELY when she was arguing for her double sink. I was rooting for her to get it. I was disappointed that she didn't get it. But then, yes, we do have to "settle" in so many ways.

    This is a brilliant piece of writing, Amanda!
    Ann Best, Author of In the Memoir, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets

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  4. Great piece of writing Amanda. A bit sad but I think so true because I think we all settle for things at some point in our lives.

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  5. I can imagine my husband and me having a very similar conversation, and me ending up with a single sink too. Very realistic.

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  6. oh jeez amanda. this is EXCELLENT! i felt my own rage from the first paragraph. screw craig. i so rooted for her. he had no right. what a job you've done showing her holding out and holding out and how does it happen with people like craig. definitely a man-woman thing, implied power and all, but some people seem to get away with their own form of sociopathy.

    you have me all riled up.

    not good for me, very good for your ability to tell a story.

    ps. my friend baino is in this group. and me too if i ever get my storywriting ready to share.


    kj

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  7. Great story, Amanda, and for the record I do have a double stainless steel sink - hahaha! I know, that is not the point at all and I was rooting for her to prevail.

    I used to watch the plate spinner on Ed Sullivan and have used that expression my whole life... "keeping the plates spinning."

    Bises,
    Genie

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  8. This made me so sad (because you are an amazing writer). this may be fiction but it reads like the truth. Sad there are really happenings like this.

    But you are SO talented, fantastic writing Amanda!

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  9. What an impressive 'word-picture' - having to be real.
    Impressive work indeed.

    As I have to manage life with a 'single sink' I usually put pots and alike right and left to it.

    It might be interesting to see a further 'snap shot' of their lifes in a couple of years again.

    Once again, a great piece !

    daily athens

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  10. great read, amazing how a conversation so mundane as a kitchen sink can hold the attention...must be in the story telling...eh?

    oh, 1 tiny little omit"...and after pounding four (of) Tito's..."

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  11. Nice. About time you came back. :P

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  12. Settling, from both sides, keeps a marriage going for 45 years and counting.

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  13. Got to have a double sink - one each for balance*!*

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  14. Loved this story... we only have a single sink, but we didn't fight over it. But one can imagine that this very scene has played out in real life hundreds of thousands of times... No wonder there is a 50% or higher divorce rate these days...

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  15. This is beautiful, Amanda. How many of us have been here? All the things we give up in the hope of something better, and in the end, not knowing how we ended up where we are. Oh how right Milan Kundera was! "We can never know what to want, because, living only one life, we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come."

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  16. What a story! About every woman somehow

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  17. Definitely one for the girls. I never had a Barbie! Got some cheap ass replica called Tressy . . yes it damaged me for ever . . until I got a double sink. Nicely done and good to see you back.

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  18. Loved the read! Clever and full of frustration.

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  19. Very nice and interesting story having to do with leadership abilities!!!

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  20. Wow, did this hit home! I love this side to your writing.

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  21. patti - thanks -- not sure how you feel its more a memory than nonfiction but an interesting comment~

    suze - not surprised at all about the bubble cut ;-)

    ann -thanks for such a supportive comment - maybe we'll see an entry from you some day?!?

    loree — yes, it's sad indeed~

    tara - thanks so much for your comment and for visiting - much appreciated~

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  22. kj - i love your insight - screw craig indeed! (hehe) i would love for you to share your writing with this group - and if you know baino, then twice the reason for you to jump in!!!

    big hugs,

    xoxo

    genie - that's so funny that the sink resonates with so many people. it's one of those things you don't think about until you're faced with the choice!

    yes - good old ed sullivan. remember topo gigio too?? xx

    lori - this seems to have hit a nerve with folks that it sounds real — maybe we've overheard one too many conversations at home expo, huh?

    xoxo

    robert - you've given me a great idea......pick up the thread of their lives down the road.....hmmmm

    tom - thanks for your close read. actually 'tito's handmade vodka' is a brand, believe it or not, hence the missing 'of' (probably should have gone with my original: "pounding 4 southern comforts")

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  23. jeff - good to be back ;-)

    paul - i've even heard that marriage works out best when both partners put in not just 50% effort but 90%.......

    annie - yet one more weighing in for the double sink! i think double is winning in this comment box (hehe) ;-)

    owen - i think you're right - the divorce rate has passed the 50% mark.......makes you wonder about paradigm shifts with our institutions....

    maggie - that is an amazing quote. is that from the unbearable lightness of being i wonder?

    ola - i wonder if this story is that universal — would love to know — a heavy thought.....

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  24. baino - oh god, tressy. is that the one with the hair that grew out of a hole in her scalp (then could retract for a shorter look)? yeah, that would damage one's psyche for sure.......yikes

    hey glynis, thanks! good to see you round these parts ;-)

    thanks philip —— although i'm not sure how you made the connection with leadership abilities.....

    nancy, thanks. i appreciate your support - it means a lot ~ xoxo

    yoli♡ — really good to hear from you - thanks, my fencing pal!! xxx

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  25. Amanda, I was talking about MY memory. I've lived every bit of your story, at some point or another. Including the kitchen sink, but I won that one. ;-)

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  26. I had the opposite response. My one and only husband from whom I am now divorced, never researched a single purchase, always bought the cheapest thing he could find and cleared a six figure income easily. I lived with something once it broke until we sold the house. drove me mad. I would give anything to have a Craig! I will say I think my boyfriend is Craigish, minus the control of what I would like to get :). Funny how stories impact us!

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  27. Ah, those emotion over reason games ... the human condition is riveting. -J

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  28. I loved details you put into the tale, kind of betters the imagination.
    Two people living together, it's hard to not fall victim to one's urge to justify habits and pursue likings. If both don't wish to back down, a fight is inevitable, sacrifice is crucial to reach an understanding. It shall last long if compromise is shared, otherwise burden will crush the relationship sooner or later.
    I feel compromise is not wrong, it's necessary for longevity, but it needs to be respected and not taken for granted. A thought provoking story.

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  29. I have been following your blog for several weeks and find it fascinating.
    This piece struck a deep chord with me, as I think it would with most women. I find myself settling all the time. I go to the grocery store and come home to find there's nothing in the bags I want to eat. My husband and pets will be well satisfied, however. I am working on this at the moment. Your piece was very timely for me and added a bit more illumination to the problem.
    I could feel her anger and frustration. I, too, wish she had gotten her sink, but that is not what generally happens. The story is so much more powerful because she settled.
    Thanks for sharing this...great writing!

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  30. Hi, I invite you to my blog. I'm new blogger and I hope you like my blog.
    To follow me know, ok.

    Take care.

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  31. patti,

    thanks for your reply. i am curious about how much, or if at all, any writer dips into his or her own life experience when writing fiction.

    that's one of mysterious things i love about this process. when a piece takes on a life of its own, that's magic to me.

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  32. she writes,

    i love the fact that something i write can elicit a response i would never have expected. but reading your comment made me realize that craig is only painted through genelle's eyes. he has done nothing in this story except do research and calmly reply. the action is all her's. otherwise, he is a blank canvas -- and it's fascinating for me to see the other ways in which he could be perceived.

    thank you for weighing in and for sharing your insight ~

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  33. harnett-hargrove,

    ain't it just, ain't it just?

    all the more reason to keep writing.......... ;-)

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  34. alive,

    i completely agree with everything you say, but esp the last part: that a relationship needs to be respected and not taken for granted. that trumps the rest in my mind.

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  35. ravenstar,

    your statement about coming home from the grocery store and finding nothing in the bags you want to eat made me stop in my tracks. out of respect for the fact that it is your own experience i will go as far as to tell you: if you are a writer, that grocery bag seems to be calling your name. i wish i had written that line myself in a story.

    thank you for taking the time to visit my site and to comment. i look forward to returning the favor.

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  36. so you trying to make me feel bad with this? smiles. really well done...i love the little details...and you bring this cono to life...

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  37. Panda-You had a Barbie and a Chatty Cathy Doll. I remember getting a Tressy Doll-but for some reason I called it Chrissy-I thought it was cool that you could shorten and lengthen her hair. I never did get a Lite/Brite set that worked-still waiting!
    Famous

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  38. Great read. Actually, I prefer a double sink!

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  39. Amanda,

    Thanks for visiting my blog, which I've been inspired to update. I appreciate your comments. Also, thanks for your input regarding my "grocery bag" comment in response to your story. I am a writer. I'm in the process of writing a novel, and your insight made me realize how the bag incident fits right into my character's circumstance.
    Thanks again!

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  40. brian,

    thanks - that means a lot, coming from you ;-)

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  41. famous - i remember. my doll was chatty cathy and you had the chatty baby. i don't remember you had the tressy doll but i remember playing with one. we probably pulled its hair in and out until it broke.

    so you're still waiting for the lite brite set? hmmmmm that gives me an idea for a christmas present ;-)

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  42. dd - thanks!

    makes me wonder - is the double sink more common in france or the single?

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  43. ravenstar,

    i've always heard the phrase 'write it out'

    i wish you the best in following this new line of inspiration!

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