Thursday, December 22, 2011


I was standing in my room the other day thinking, "I need to get some of this stuff out of my closet."

"Yeah," Harry said cosigning. "There's too much stuff in here period."

I agreed and went about my business.

Harry had to work a bit late on his birthday so that night was uneventful. We decided on dinner at home as a family and then a trip to the neighborhood frozen yogurt spot. With so much stuff to do, we felt that this was appropriately celebratory.

In the clinic on Monday someone came in to have a foot ulcer looked at.  Scraped it on a rock and noticed that some green stuff was coming out of it.

Another patient stood up and threatened to leave before we finished the visit. Hadn't been to a doctor in just about his whole life. Said that all this stuff we were talking about was scaring him. He wasn't ready to be a patient. He already had too much stuff going on in his life already.

"Whose stuff is this?" a nurse asked me as she held up a coat and a bag that had been left on a chair. We found the owner quickly because people don't like being without their stuff.

I interviewed residency applicants the other day and wondered if all the stuff all over my office would help or hinder them from coming to train with us.  Three of the four applicants commented that they liked all the stuff in my office.  I like it, too.

My godson turned one and he had a party. A party for a one year-old at a little place called Gymboree. I was worried that there wouldn't be stuff for my boys to do there being five and six and a half and all. But in we walked, the entire Team Manning and just like that, the boys quickly found lots of stuff to play with, to do, and to fully entertain themselves. And then Isaiah stuffed his face with two cupcakes--first his and then Zachary's because he knows first hand that Zachary is no fan of cupcakes or sweet stuff.

I did find a bag of Halloween candy hidden inside some of the stuff Zachary plays with in the playroom though. When I took it, he yelped, "But that's my stuff!"  And my reply was, "No, sir. It is not."

We went to a homeless shelter on Sunday. Our friends Carol R. and Coach B. invited us to be there for a holiday dinner and even though we missed part of it when we were at Baby Jackson's special party, we came in time for dessert. And. We made it in time to see how much wonderful stuff people had donated to them. Everyone pitched in and cleaned up all the stuff from the dinner and before you knew it, that gym floor was clean and slick and those trashbags were filled with stuff. The energy was wonderful and the men were all stuffed from a perfect meal and each were given stuff to take with them.

Carol R. pointed to the wall and showed Isaiah where the stuff the kids had made for decorations was hanging on the wall. He noticed that before she said it and beamed when she confirmed this. Then a man pointed out to Isaiah that right behind the construction paper garlands were mattresses and this is where they sleep. And Isaiah froze, his little wheels turning. I knew this wasn't over.

We thanked our friends for having us and told all of the men in the shelter "Merry Christmas!" even though something about that felt funny. Especially because I had carried in my designer handbag and was wearing a J. Crew coat that looked swankier than I wanted to look. I knew I should have taken some of that stuff from my closet.

Outside of the shelter, Isaiah saw all the people lining the building that didn't make it inside for whatever reason.

"What about their stuff?" he asked.

"Their stuff?" I asked.

"Where do they put all their stuff if they are homeless?"

And Harry answered in a Daddy voice, "When you are homeless you try not to have too much stuff. Or some stuff you had you unfortunately have to let go of."

"But what if you love it?"

And Harry and I just exchanged glances because that was a hard thing to answer. Then we heard a man calling out from the back of a flatbed truck that was stacked high with boxes full of stuff. "Gloves! Gloves! I have some gloves for who needs them!"

Those men ran from some of everywhere, leaving what little stuff they had behind for gloves. Warm gloves.

And Isaiah and Zachary watched. I wondered if this stuff was too much for their little eyes. Asked myself if this was robbing them of their innocence or instead their ignorance. I decided that this stuff was real stuff and that it was okay in this instance for them to be robbed of both.

"Do people give away blankets and covers to homeless people?" Isaiah asked.

"They often do," I responded.

"You can cover your stuff with a blanket. See? That's what that man did," he observed. We both looked over at a man sitting beside a big heap covered with some kind of comforter.

"That's a thought."

Zachary said, "What if it rains? Rains all on your stuff? Does all your stuff get all wet and yucky?"

He climbed into his car seat and buckled himself in. He seemed to intuitively know that there wasn't much of an answer to that one so he simply added, "I don't want to be homeless."

I knocked the stuff off of the passenger seat that I'd left behind and sat down. Harry started the car and we pulled off.

"Did you get the stuff I need for my doctor's appointment tomorrow?" he asked.

"Sure did."


The ride home after that was quiet. Zachary fell asleep. Isaiah just looked out of the window. When we reached home we all put on pajamas and the kids climbed under warm dry covers. I picked up stuff off of the floor and then made a list of all of the stuff I had to do the next day, which included giving away some of that stuff in my closet.

Harry fell asleep first, so I just sat there listening to his rhythmic breathing. His brow kept furrowing and it made mine wrinkle, too. I know he has a lot of stuff on his plate and on his mind.

Then I thought about the stuff I'd dealt with in the last few days and closed my eyes. I drifted to sleep reflecting on this world, this life, and the stuff dreams are made of.

Happy Thursday.

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . . 


  1. I believe you have somehow revealed the true nature of life here.

  2. Ahhh...The stuff of life. So much meaning in the word.

  3. This is some truly serious stuff. And I thank you for making it so clear.

  4. "In every happiness there is a little misery and in every misery a little happiness"

    I grew up upper lower class in Atlanta, Ga and was a first generation college graduate. I struggled thru undergraduate and graduate school often times with no car and sometimes without a place of my own sleeping on dorm room floors and good friends couches. I made it though and am now a one per center. I was buying my oldest daughter some Dr Dre head phones for Christmas and I felt melancholy for some unexplained reason. I decided to read your blog and this story made me understand why I felt the way I did. Even though I was blessed enough to pull through and reach my fullest potential there are so many people in this world who face much more difficult obstacles then I ever did . And while I feel blessed to be able to give my daughter what she wants I feel chastened to do more for others and your blog made it clear to me.

  5. stuff, this time of year makes us reflect on stuff- the stuff we have, the stuff we give, the stuff we miss. I looked around this week and realized how blessed we are and how I try to teach my children this and how we need to take care of other people and love each other, but it's a hard lesson for kids, who have never been hungry or cold. Good for you taking the kids to the homeless shelter and talking with them. That's how they grow into caring adults. Merry Christmas


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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