Friday, August 31, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Monday, August 27, 2007
By opening the camera's shutter for a fraction of a second, you form an image of the energy reflected off the objects in your viewfinder
Mom delights in knowing where Small is. She remembers. I do not remember so perhaps read a bit fast, turn the pages with more mission than our previous stories. I look at her not knowing what is next, even though the words are read aloud from my mouth, even though I could quickly turn the page and look into the future. She looks at me and grins. She knows where Small is, and delights in her knowing. Her eyes, they are mischievous. Her eyes, they are shining. Her eyes tell me that Small is right there, right on Pooh's back! She's a child right now, eager, wiggling, anticipating the next moment of discovery.
I finish the story, rub my fingers through her hair, kiss her ten times on her cheek and forehead. She responds better to more than she does less, a big grin crosses her face and I think at this moment she's stolen my heart forever. A tremendous fear flashes though me, how will I ever carry on without her?
I tell her I'll be right back. In that instant, she is gone from me, her eyes drift past my face to the wall, the window, wherever it is she goes. She shows me how to say Goodbye. You just leave.
I have a job to do. I don't want to do it, but it must be done. When I'm at the highest point of the house, doing that job, I find something, the suitcase she told me about years ago. She wanted us to open it and go through it together. She said, it's something special and I want to share it with you. Something futile always kept us from that something special. My schedule or hers. She had hope there, excitement there, she wanted to open it up for me, share herself with me. Fickle thing time is, importance one can no longer remember. Tonight, nothing can pull me from the content of this suitcase.
Inside, there is a life on paper and envelopes, cards and diaries, diplomas and photos. Blue ink on yellowed paper that crumbles at my touch. Handwriting of a young woman, yet penmanship recognizable, slants and curves I know well. The musty smell of aged paper, the disarming surprise of her youth. I touch it all, her typed acceptance letters from Wellesley and Vassar. Her notes figuring a courseload that will have her graduating in three years in the Vassar program, because that's all the money she has. Her leather-bound diaries, her dance cards from West Point, completely filled. Her prom programs. Her class notes from Philosophy and Music History, her transcripts, her tassel from graduation. Her calling my grandmother, Mom, and my grandfather, Pop. My grandparents, her parents. Her life from 17 to 21, in her pen.
She's on trains, on dates, playing tennis, basketball, squash, hockey, golf. She's at the movies, at the theatre, with her friends at lunch, on a blind date, with her Pop and Mom for dinner or breakfast or where she can squeeze them into her busy schedule. She's swimming and sunning and riding horses. She studying and shopping, taking taxis, having two cocktails with a cute sailor. She's surprised for her 18th birthday. She finally faces her pile of mending. She buys a new pair of shoes, goes to a dance with my Aunt Nancy.
On this day in 1943, it rained. She thought about going home, but didn't. She played cards with Janet. Janet and her boyfriend, Jay, got into an argument. She went to the movies. Today, in 1944 she was at a cabin on Lake George with her Mom, on a motor boat, playing shuffleboard and badminton, canoeing. Her mother made over her white dress and it looked swell that night. That's all she wrote about the dress. I wonder where she went, who saw her in that dress, how she held her hands, crossed her legs. Today in 1945, she took the train back to New York, went to the dentist and bought a new hat. She went to see "The Voice of a Turtle" with her mother, and said it to be, awfully good.
I touch the pages, the ink of her pen left on the paper so many years ago. It feels as if we're holding hands. It feels as if she is my sister and my Grandmother my mother. It feels as if she is my daughter. I want to meet her, want to be one of the friends in her words. It feels like if I were there, I'd watch her. It feels as if I'm breathing under water.
Tonight, in 2007, her daughter rubs lotion on her legs, trims her fingernails, rubs her forehead, pulls her fingers through her hair, reads a story to her, gazes on her smile so rare, curls up beside her and loves her so. And hopes she knows I am here. And, if not, then maybe on a train with her, a play with her, a movie, or buying a new hat.
Lord, you play a hard one, taking him so shockingly fast and then so very slowly unraveling her. All I ask from you is that you continue to inspire my faith in you to trust that in your power, I can understand and accept that this is your will.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Take it away, LBD.
Eight Things You Don't Know About Me
By Cheyenna Bannana... nevermind
1. I really am that happy to see you.
2. In the morning, Mom likes to throw the blanket over my head and wrestle with me. When she does this, I get really happy and excited. One time I was so excited that I accidentally piddled and she didn't find out until later that morning when she made the bed. I knew she'd find it, so I stayed downstairs just in case she got angry.
3. I've only been full one time in my life. That was when I ate an entire weekend's worth of food for three dogs. Mom said I looked like a pregnant quarter horse. I was miserable. But getting there was awesome.
4. Everyone thinks I am a Chocolate Labrador Retriever, but really I am a hoover in disguise. (Ref. No 3).
5. I know the words, treaty, puppy chow, park, and walk. I also know the words down and off and stay and no. But I do not like those words at all, so pretend that I don't.
6. It's not that there's anything really wrong with little dogs, they just annoy me with their constant movement and sniffing and thinking they are much larger than they are. I wouldn't really bite them, but it's funny to watch them run off with their tails between their legs when I growl. I learned this from my friend, Maggie.
7. I will never understand why everyone gets all worked up and crazy when I eat cat poop. Afterall, they have not tried it.
8. This picture is where and how I sit when Mom goes out the door. I'm pretty attached to her. Oh, wait, everyone knows that.
May I have a pig ear now?
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Someone has a mother, a car accident rearranged her
Someone has a lover, an addiction possesses her
Someone has a young daughter, diabetes pursues her
Someone seeks what they don't know how to receive
Someone lives beyond their means
Someone fears change
though the present is terrifying
Someone else hides behind money
Someone thinks he knows his way
when I know he can't figure a map to safely reach the next minute
Someone's mother waits for her to smile
Someone loses and someone gains
Someone cannot decide between two men who want her
She complains the smart one pays too much attention
the brawny one not enough
Someone says Boo and someone jumps
out of her skin
The skin we comfortably say we're home in
until life settles in, stretches out, wakes us up.
Monday, August 20, 2007
The Upright piano stands present but forgotten in the foyer. We've not pulled music from its keys in years. Spider webs lace foot pedals. No matter how many times I wipe a rag across them, try to polish them, the spider webs return as if trying to say something about futility of persistance. I could play one song on that piano, Chicago's Color My World. The piano bench opens for storage, music sheets. Inside still are my lessons. Whole notes, half notes, scales. Homework from a music teacher who gently explained to me that my fingers were not long enough, delicate enough, to truly play the piano.
Such requirements are not necessary for the spider.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Thursday, August 16, 2007
On Monday, Dudley was pushed out of a moving car by someone he trusted. PUSHED OUT OF A MOVING CAR. (What is wrong with people?) What do you think Dudley did? He chased that car for as far as his legs would carry him, but the car was too fast, the driver too intent on getting away. I imagine that Dudley thought it a mistake, thought it was something he did, and if he could only catch up, he'd do his best to nose-kiss his way into forgiveness.
When I met him, I apologized on behalf of the world for how he'd been treated. Whoever it was that kicked him out of a moving car had not give him any vaccinations, any heart worm medicine, or anything at all for his health. I can only imagine what was done. Dudley was quiet at first, when we met across the fence. Quiet but receptive, hopeful. I think Dudley has a broken heart, but from his wagging tail, he's able to get through it.
Through some lucky connections he didn't know he had, this delightful guy has landed in my neighborhood, for the time being. He has all of his shots now and he's been given a clean bill of health. He has been neutered. This sweet guy has everything going for him, except a home to call his own.
Earlier tonight, he poked his nose through the fence and kissed my face. Cheyenne then kissed his face. With all that loving and kissing, I almost scooped him up and brought him home. But the truth is that I cannot afford him, financially or logistically.
If you met him, you'd love him. You'd put your hands all over him and kiss him, kiss him, kiss him, and he'd kiss you, kiss you, kiss you back. If you know someone who would love Dudley and who maybe needs to give and get lots of puppy kisses, who would scoop him up, would you let me know? Seriously, this little guy is special. And the sun won't go down on Friday without his having a home. Even if that home is my own.
Hey, that text was good. You can talk some shit.
That's what I do for a living, talk some shit.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
This morning, in the nice, cool and ridiculously expensive comfort of my air-conditioned house, I read in the paper a story about a playground that spontaneously combusted. No children were around but cameras caught the action. Apparently, the heavy rains earlier this summer left the wood chips on the playground saturated and ultimately decomposing beneath the heat, making the area flammable. Last week's high temperatures ignited that stuff which then melted the plastic playground equipment.
I've had an occasional mental mirage when suffering beneath heat like we're having here, because I picture it being me sizzling and bubbling on the concrete and not the egg in the "so hot you could fry an egg on the sidewalk" elevator talk I hear all too often in my office building. But I've never imagined playgrounds catching on fire and slides and swing sets melting. I wonder what happened to the day when good old earth was an acceptable playground floor. What's wrong with grass and dirt? You never heard about spontaneously combusting playgrounds when I a kid.
People, that is hot.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
"The Worriers' Guild" by Philip F. Deaver, from How Men Pray
Today there is a meeting of the
and I'll be there.
The problems of Earth are
to be discussed
end to end
for five days
end to end
with 1100 countries represented
all with an equal voice
some wearing turbans and smocks
and all the men will speak
and the women
with or without notes
in 38 languages
and nine different species of logic.
Outside in the autumn
the squirrels will be
chattering and scampering
directionless throughout the town
they aren't organized yet.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Darker skies, longer lights, a straighter road. Nothing unfamiliar, though nothing preferred. From my office, the road takes me past the courthouse where my sister married her seventh husband. I glance over and remember she married on a Tuesday and was hurt and angry that we would not come and would not allow the children to come. She did not realize, nor would accept, that we were at work and they were in school.
I drive through an intersection and glance across a parking lot to the tiny Mexican restaurant where a woman I worked with said out loud some things she never should have. A lot went down after that night. Accusations, litigation, depositions. Spinning, spinning, spinning. It was a long year, that one.
Down that road is the neighborhood where a friend used to live. Her name was Laura. Her family moved here from New Jersey and we met at the stables where I boarded my pony. Laura and her sister seemed to always have gum in their mouths, and they had fiery tempers the likes I'd never seen before. They turned me onto Bruce Springsteen.
That apartment complex over there is where another friend from those stables lived. She was older than the rest of us, would assist our riding instructor sometimes. I cannot recall her name anymore, and barely recall what she looked like. But I do remember her helping me study for a test and my asking her how to spell maybe and her saying, Think about it. And that moment being my first cringe experience with the obvious.
The reason I'm on this road is my sister. She needs me. Actually she needs money. And cigarettes. And beer. She needs attention and saving and somebody to listen to her. She needs to show me things and tell me things. She needs to yell and cry. She needs. She left seven messages for me in two hour's time. She yells, she cries, she pleads. She calls her children, asks them to call me. They call, she calls. I am on call. Telling her that I'll stop by on my way home from work is not good enough. She wants me to be there now, nothing is more important. Than this, than her need.
An hour later, she sleeps in her chair. I tip-toe out the door, through the gate, quietly click the security latch in place. I should take a right towards home. I take a left. And a left. And a right and a left and a right. I find myself driving onto the street where Mom lives, turning my car around through the drive, turning off my lights. The car idles. Windows rolled down, I stare at the house. I know she's safe inside, tucked in the sheets, sleeping. She's right there.
And I cannot move.
Dark house, dark windows, dark yard. I'm there. She's there. He's there. And her, and him and her. I spy on the present, recall the past. I want to go inside, want to curl up beside her.
Mother. Daughter. Daughter. Three women. One screams, one whispers, one struggles. Three very different women. Three very different roads to their doors. Mine passes through theirs.
I pull out of the street toward home, pass the street where my first friend used to live. We met in pre-school. On a hot day like today, while our parents drank lemonade with a touch of vodka, we sat in her back yard with a bucket filled with a bit of water, picking up the tiniest of baby frogs, delighting in them, dropping them into the bucket. Called inside for lunch, we leave them, returning hours later to find them drowned, dead.
We run from the scene, scramble onto the laps of our mothers, sob our grief as they hold us, continue their conversation, pull loving fingers gently through our hair.
I shake my head at the memory, at the night, reach for the volume knob and turn the music up loud. I roll the windows down and let the warm summer wind blow through my hair and my mind, blow all the ghosts and demands away until there's nothing left but the music. And the road.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
I'd like to think it's on behalf of dogs everywhere, and that's why I'm posting it.
Eight things you don't know about me:
1.) I saw The Effect of Gamma Rays on the Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds when I was in 7th grade. The effect of that play had far reaching affects on me. I still think about the perseverance and hope inside the youngest girl.
2.) I saw Bourne Ultimatum over the weekend. And jumped out of my seat. Twice.
3.) My dog is throwing up RIGHT NOW.
[Insert here that just a moment ago I gagged and jumped from my chair, grabbed paper towels, cleaned up the mess, gagged, coughed, gagged, etc.]
Cough, gag, ahem, where were we?
4.) When I started this, I had no idea what I would say, much less that Cheyenne would barge her way onto the scene. (Barf her way into the scene?)
5.) I'm facing something I don't want to happen. I'm standing at the edge and hanging on with resistance but am considering letting go and free-falling because resistance is ridiculous and stopping will feel like a deep breath exhaled.
6.) Sunday would have been my friend's 44th birthday. Had she not killed herself 11 years ago. There's not a day that passes without my thinking of her, without my missing her.
7.) I'm stronger than most, weaker than many, and working on what separates the extremes.
8.) Every morning I thank God for my blessings. Before my feet hit the floor. Because I am blessed, and I don't forget it for a minute.
Like Ghost, I'll be gentle with my tagging. The links to the right? You're it!
Sunday, August 05, 2007
Friday, August 03, 2007
A handful of friends and co-workers this week have sent me a link to a video clip. They write that it reminds them of me. I cannot figure out what they see I have in common with this woman. It's not that I have legs like hers, height like hers or, let's be real, hair anywhere in the vicinity of thickness as hers. And it's not the watering can in her hand. My watering can is plastic and hers appears to be metal.
I can't figure what this woman and I share. Can you?
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
I've always preferred cotton to other fabrics and not just because the fields are hypnotic or my the connection through my first roommate. I like the way it feels on my skin, and many times have reached out to touch some item of clothing I wanted, only to realize it was not cotton but some other fabric that touching just with my fingertips makes my skin on the rest of my body scream NO! So when I was in a store on Saturday and heard this conversation, I admit to being slack-jawed.
Lady 1: I like this top.
Lady 2: Hmmmm, what it's made of?
Lade 1: Cotton and spandex blend.
Lady 2: Hmmmm, no. I never like to stray too far from polyester.
I stood still thinking about that. Stray too far? For what, safety? And then I thought about my college roommate and heard her boyfriend say America's picking cotton, and thought, Well, not all of us.