Tuesday, November 3, 2015


I've been told that I'm resourceful.
The word makes me suspicious. Is it code for something? A back-handed compliment, the way my father would tell me I was "attractive" and we both knew he meant "not as pretty as your sister?"
But then I think, well I am resourceful.
Once, when I was younger, my parents went out and left me in charge. There was a fight and my littlest sister slammed my hand in the bathroom door. I knew if our parents found out about the fight, we'd all be in trouble, so I concealed my injured, rapidly blackening index fingernail. Over the following weeks, as fluids built up under the dead nail, I meticulously drilled a hole in the nail bed with a safety pin, relieving the pressure. The nail eventually curled up and flaked off, replaced by a tender, snail-like new nail and I was still called on to be in charge, sometimes.
There was the job I got when I was an exchange student in Germany. My Spanish boyfriend had accidentally crushed the bumper of our group's rental van, after a weekend in Berlin. Everyone else's parents sent them money to pay for the repairs. Not me. My parents were broke as a joke, so, I studied the Marburg classifieds and found a job helping a doctor's wife in Elnhausen with housework. I still remember my German mother Ilse's incredulity when I announced my new position over dinner.
During college, I lived on $10 a week for groceries. (Thank you, Food Giant.)
Anyway, the thing is, I come from a long line of hard-headed Kansan women. One great-grandmother emigrated to western Kansas on a wagon train from Oklahoma. The other taught in a one-room schoolhouse and raised my grandmother as a single parent. My beloved Gram has had three careers so far--mother, schoolteacher, and real estate mogul. So I guess when someone says hey you're resourceful, it doesn't resonate too much.
Being resourceful what's expected. It's how we do.
It's who we are.

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