Archive for the Junk 12: Winter 2014 Category


Posted in Junk 12: Winter 2014, Robin Silbergleid with tags , , , , , on February 10, 2014 by Tim Elhajj


by Robin Silbergleid


Here are the basic facts: A ceiling fan is a mechanical fan, usually electrically powered, suspended from the ceiling of a room, that uses hub-mounted rotating paddles to circulate air. Ceiling fans generally spin between 80 and 300 revolutions-per-minute (RPMs) with about 220 RPMs as a common high speed and 100 a common low.*


What do I do? What do I do? Her feet shuffle back and forth, her weight bouncing on her knees like a marionette. This is what I can see from one eye from beneath the towel, where I am curled, in the single hallway of our upstairs, before I collapse, holding my face because if I don’t it might fall off. My right hand is shaking, twitching. I don’t know what to do.

I am thinking: blood, bone, brain damage. The children will be orphaned.

She is eight. She was in her bedroom reading. I was in the bedroom with the baby. I had just nursed him, changed his diaper.

In his crib, now, where she put him, the baby is screaming. I hear him. And the whir of the blades.

911, I tell her, now now now.

And then, when they don’t come, neighbor.

Oh jeez, he says, eventually, oh jeez, his big feet on the creaky floor.


There are five blades on the fan above my bed. There were four wounds to my face: two low on the forehead, one on the right side of my nose, one under my left eye, so close to the eyeball that when the doctor stitched up my face I could feel her tickle my eyelashes with the needle. I had two black eyes. My hand twitched from brain trauma.

According to the TV show Mythbusters, it is impossible for a domestic ceiling fan to decapitate a human being or do more than cause “minor” injury.

The upstairs of the house looked, my friend said, like a murder scene. There was so much blood that when I pulled down my pants in the emergency room I was sure I had gotten my period. It was July in Michigan; the fan was spinning fast.


I could say, this is why you don’t clean.
I could say, a different kind of domestic violence.
I could say, this is why you don’t ever stand on a bed. Ever.
I could say, I got lucky.
It’s only a scar.

But I am thinking of my daughter’s small white chair where I sat while my neighbors swapped cell phone numbers on construction paper and crayon. The one whom I know from the bus stop slipped sandals on my ruddy feet. The one who lives next door, who likes to garden, stayed with my children–the baby with a bottle of breastmilk from the freezer, the big girl praised for her bravery– while her husband drove me to the hospital. This is the spin I choose to put on the story, a story of human kindness and people looking out for each other, because the other story, the one where small children watch their mother’s blood pool on the wood floors during the twenty minutes it takes for the ambulance to arrive, is unfathomable.


Every morning my daughter watches while I put make-up on. If your scar was flipped over you would look like Harry Potter. My hand trembles. She turns off the fan. The damage is not minor.

*courtesy of Wikipedia

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The Miserable

Posted in Andrea Clark Mason, Junk 12: Winter 2014 with tags , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2014 by Tim Elhajj

The Miserable
by Andrea Clark Mason

When Anne Hathaway walked onstage in a pink gown to receive an Oscar for her role in Les Miserables, I remembered the year I had seen the musical of the same name: 1988. I was in seventh grade. I had been happy and well-adjusted in elementary school, but in middle school, my female friends became intimidating, and an influx of hormones meant I suddenly didn’t know how to act around boys who used to be my friends. I turned silent, unsure of what to say to anyone except my best friend, who attended another school, and my family. I took refuge in the story about the French revolution. Les Miserables had come to Philadelphia, and my parents had taken me to see it. I was enchanted with the story, with revolutionary France, with the young French orphan who seemed to be about my age, with all the songs. I bought the double CD and would play it in my room, singing along with the lyrics until I knew them all.

I ended up seeing the musical three times, once more with my grandmother, and then again with my best friend. Each time I felt more and more part of the story and like everything would have been okay if only I could be swept up in revolution. I was a romantic, taken with stories, and it was hard for me to conceptualize that this was just a story, not what real revolutionary France must have been like.

In the one class I liked at school, Humanities, we were allowed to do a project on “something that interested us.” One of my classmates wanted to be a TV news anchor woman when she was an adult, so that’s what she was doing her report on. I remember wondering how she could know already what she wanted to be when she grew up. I had no idea what I wanted to be, and there wasn’t even anything I was really interested in … except Les Miserables. My teacher looked dubious when I told him what I wanted to do my paper on, but he finally conceded, saying I could find reviews and so on.

One day we had class in the library, and we sat at small tables. My bag was up on the table, but I was paying attention to the librarian, who was telling us how to find sources on our topic. I heard some snickering behind me, and when I turned, I saw two boys holding a sanitary napkin. They had gone through my bag, opening compartments until they’d found the pad. I should have been angry, but instead I was embarrassed and unsure of what to do. I had gotten my period for the first time a few months before but not since then. I was carrying a pad around “just in case” in the event it returned at some unexpected moment. I grabbed my bag, and checked to make sure everything else was still there. Then I closed the zippered compartments they’d opened and tried to sneer at them. But I couldn’t. Instead, I hung my head and thankfully got up quickly when the bell rang only a few minutes later.

When the movie came out, I didn’t expect that seeing it would make me remember seventh grade, the year before I eventually changed schools and began attending private school. Perhaps I had connected with what most of the characters in Les Miserables display – a lack of power to change the difficult circumstances around them that are larger and more powerful than their own lives. Perhaps everyone in my grade was busy growing their first pubic hairs, learning the ins and outs of cliques and realizing how much their world was changing, but I was lucky to have a team on my side, even if they were imaginary characters – Jean Val Jean, Fantine, Cosette, Marius, and of course, Gavroche, the pre-adolescent street urchin around whom I felt pretty sure I knew exactly what I would say – Let’s sing a song!

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