please look after this bear

Pb_mailbags_391I wear my hair straight when I’m nervous; it makes me feel organized.  There’s a certain composure when it’s just smooth commas, falling down my back, allowing for rest and measured beats of calm. Pauses.  My ringlets are chaos, my red heart in strands, bouncing on my sleeves.  You can see too much of me in it, my full hand.  It will be curly again tomorrow because of the rain.   

Feeling organized helps alleviate fear; I spent the weekend housekeeping.  Art supplies were stowed, office supplies stacked, my life in a closet of shelved boxes of interest, obligations, and receipts.  Matchbooks, business cards with numbers and names, napkins with ideas.  Pascal and Plato in a graph that you wrote in that bar.  And when you left for the bathroom, it was as if I knew I’d always have that note.  I slipped the white square into my pocket.  I knew I’d need the memory; I hate that I hold it. 

Having my outfit picked out, bags packed, everything in its place gives me some idea of control.  Fear is easier to face with crossed off to-do lists, with a packed suitcase under my armoire.

When I was frightened as a young girl, I played a Paddington Bear record and hid beneath the dark dining room table.  I remember hiding there and smelling wood polish.  The smell comforted me; it’s a scent that lets you know things are being cared for, handled, preserved.  Pledge.  There’s a security in it, like milk. 

I liked how formal Paddington was, with his tidy English accent.  There was an order to him, a compactness, which I found soothing.  Nothing bad happens to people who do Tea and eat crumpets.  Paddington always carried a suitcase, with a secret compartment for important papers; he was on the move.  I’m unsure if he was running away or towards something.  Maybe he was running, looking for a dining room table, somewhere safe.

When he arrived in Paddington station, he was discovered sitting on a suitcase near some mail, wearing a label around his neck bearing the words, “Please Look After This Bear.  Thank You.”  I need that sign to wear. 

I’m a little frightened now, and if I were a hat person, I’d wear one and tuck a marmalade sandwich beneath it for emergencies.  Jelly sandwiches always seem to make things okay.   

At least Linus’ middle name is Paddington.  Today’s sign is on my shirt bearing the words, “Love Me Love My Dog.”  It’s my way of saying, take care of me.



  1. Hi. New-kid and exiled blogger here to say "hey". Excellent work, I must say.

    Good point; about Paddington. Personally, I prefer Pooh. He's all about trusting the universe.

  2. paddington's briefcase prominently displayed his initials "PB". coincidence? magic? open to? be your strong self and pass the lasagna.

  3. take this as a compliment. you look hot with straight hair, cute with curly hair.

  4. I am surprised that you use the word "towards" in your writing. It should be "toward" I beleive. I don't get women with stuffed animal issues . . . It's only cute for about 6 seconds.

  5. Given a choice, I'd take Paddington over Pooh, but in my heart of hearts, I'm a 'Little Bear' (of Maurice Sendak fame) devotee. I distrust Pooh; he has enough sense to wear a [half] shirt, but he can't wear pants?

    I know I'm digressing from a true comment to this post, but I have to get this out of my system. Bear (har har) with me.

    Five years ago, JC Penny had kiddie chairs on display around Christmastime. One such chair was a giant Pooh bear. In effect, the child was to sit in Pooh's lap: Pooh's pantless lap. There's something wrong with having a child sit in a naked bear's lap, if the bear knows enough to wear a shirt. If you introduce clothing, go all the way. I mean, Paddington wears a coat, hat and galoshes! He's covered! He's prudent!

    I'm wound too tightly. But I get the comfort in organization concept we're talking about here. There's something about having your things tidy, whether it's for your own peace of mind, or for those looking in on your life from the outside.

    Maybe Paddington's little packed suitcase was just to have a place in the world set aside that was truly about 'him'.

  6. As for toward and towards, one is used more commonly in British English and one in the U.S., but both are perfectly acceptable.

  7. Maybe you have a future as the writer or illustrator of children's books. Few books are as important as children's books. And while, according to a Chinese proverb, a book is like a garden carried in the pocket, a children's book has the first words that a child learns, words that are doors through which the most important intial thoughts travel through the mind of the child and let them visit gardens of their own creation. Writing children's books is one of the most nobel acts of generosity and worthy of a prize such as the Nobel prizes in literature or peace.

    It's time you stopped thinking of the space beneath dining room tables as serving a purpose other than a place for your legs to be extended comfortably while you are enjoying a pleasant meal with your friends and family.

  8. Don't forget to wrap the marmalade sandwich in plastic wrap. I've ruined more hats that way…

  9. I always straighten my wavy hair. hmmm, does that mean I'm seeking control?
    More importantly though, when I feel out of sorts, I unconsciously make a mess at home (papers everywhere, clothes on the hamper, etc.) so I can have the masterful feeling I get when I clean it all up.
    Kind of like make up sex.

    Paddington vs Pooh…I'm a Pooh gal-love the honey jar.

  10. I'm a Paddington fan. My first boyfriend gave me a stuffed Paddington and I adored him. Something about him gave me comfort (the stuffed animal not the boyfriend).

    I'm also a Pooh fan. And I've never thought of him as naked!

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