This is what I see this morning.
A black and orange/red butterfly. Mostly black with a ribbon of orange/red running across both wings. The same color as a matter of fact that Jonah and I had discussed/argued about this morning as we chose the t-shirt for his school picture. The picture that undoubtedly will live in our life in some fashion with the strained smile, smiling at nothing in particular, that is the world of school pictures.
See here is your child. See how he looks just like all other children. A dose of reassurance and removal all in moment.
The butterfly until a second ago was fluttering its wings slowly open and close. He/she rests and then hobbles along again across the aggregate surface that is my patio, more like a landing, that leads to the driveway. The minute hills and valleys.
Naturally, in this moment, it all is now. The butterfly’s motions. The dappled play of light on the surface of the aggregate (I’m using the word aggregate. Throwing it around with the confidence of a contractor ordering supplies — but the truth is I’m probably wrong. It’s not aggregate)
The dog rests. His head leaning up against the screen door.
And now I look over and the butterfly flies away.
Ha! Thought I was witnessing a death scene.
And he’s gone. She’s gone. Out of frame.
Forgot to mention that through the screen door the image is somewhat digitized. If I shift my gaze slowly enough I can focus on the screen. And it’s especially apparent when I focus on the alleged aggregate surface.
The surface that could for instance, if this were another writing day, have stretched across it a dead body, with a pool of blood slowly oozing from his or her head.
My experience of cutting myself, say when I sliced off the tip of my finger while gardening was that the blood came out with great urgency. It spilled out. Pulsed out of me. The day of my “Oh-ho”. Where everything I read in the paper that morning, while sitting outside with my coffee, my breakfast and so deaf to anything other than the constant now, was “oh-ho”. It became the morning’s running joke. A phrase I couldn’t stay away from. Kept circling back to. So that when I cut my finger and went to “oh-ho” Tim was deaf to it. Just like I was deaf to anything but now. Not paying attention and running around with sharp sissors. A dangerous combination.
The butterfly is still gone.
Guess that one brilliant butterfly was a once in a lifetime 10:11 am experience. What are the chances of seeing something that compelling out my window in the morning?
And now, ha, there goes a Meter Guy. A white t-shirt guy walking through frame with a meter-reader in his hand. First I see a stranger walking down the five steps across the driveway. Then I focus on the device in his hand and name him by profession. Briefly for a moment I stumble. Can’t remember what to call the meter-reader. It probably does have an official name. Also a model number that to a Meter-Reader (see now it’s both a profession and a tool) makes all the world of difference.
Granted he’s not a brilliant colored butterfly. But he walked down the steps just at the moment (again with an accute awareness of now) that I’m writing (or was it whining? Or just merely observing/noting) that nothing compelling ever happens outside the window at say 10:11 am.
There happens to be no cars in the driveway right now. We’ve done the do-se-do of cars (not a clue how to spell that) so that Tim could take the more rugged car on errands. And now the second car sits on the street.
Which sends me tumbling off in two directions. What if the Meter-Reader is a front man for a huge crime network that marks homes likely to be vacant on say a Thursday at 10:11 in the morning?
Which has me thinking about both fiction and fact.
Fiction as a start of a medicore story say about a Meter-Reader moonlighting as a front man for a huge crime synidicate. But he’s a reluctant criminal. An honest guy who feels deep remorse about what he’s doing on a daily basis but dependent on the money that he’s given as a result of the information that he gathers. His white t-shirt is evidence of his reluctant criminal state. That’s the fiction.
The fact side of the thought is a flash of paranoia/fear as the theft unspools in my mind. Coming home after a random day in the city to find everything gone. The house ransacked. The dog lying in a heap in front of a pound of poisoned red chopped meat.
There’s also the second random thought which ordinarily is a struggle to return to and that is the need to move the car to the train station away from the loose tree limbs that might come crashing down on the car in the middle of Isabel. Isabel the hurricane.
Tim referred to Isabel in a casual way as if she were someone we were having over for dinner.
Again in the now I don’t know how well behaved she (the hurricane) will be. Whether for some people it will be a crisis that is all consuming, could end your life and in an hour it’s back to normal. Or it rips everything apart, crashes through our rooftop and changes our lives in ways that I could only fret about now.
Like the Meter-Reader passing along our name to the theft syndicate.
Hmmm…maybe I worry too much.
Here’s the moment. The smell of wood being sawn. And the sound. The sun playing hide and seek as the edge of Isabel is chased away or drawn away by the next front. Or pulled along like a heavy kid in a sled across flat ground.
Yeah just like that.
That’s all I see.
A thousand separate associations for each phrase. The smell of wood. The way Tim has evolved into a wood-worker using power tools when all I can think of in terms of using power tools myself is the experience of trying to sew a shirt, a white peasant blouse to be specific, for my new job as a waitress at La Crepe in Buffalo.
The whole city was jazzed by the prospect of a French restaurant opening up. As if Buffalo had somehow “rated” and the opening of the restaurant signaled a shift in its sagging fortunes.
I was too poor at the time to go out a buy a shirt and so, with the help of a friend, I took the plunge into power tools — the sewing machine. I watched my fried demonstrate how to use the machine. It seemed so gentle, methodical and easy. But when I took over the driver’s seat, the machine took on a life of its own. The material went jagging wildly first to the left. Then the right. Somehow I lacked that correct combination of hand-eye coordination, common sense and upbringing to be brought back into the fold of man/woman maker of tools.
The customers at the restaurant were continually surprised and dismayed to discover that crepes were in fact high priced pancakes. My overblown Breton cap threatened to fall into the crepes every time I served someone. So I had to bend forward, deposit the plate with a sense of style and flourish equal to the price of the meal, while at the same time keeping my head level with my shoulders.
Just as I was perfecting the stiff sweep of body and neck, I was fired. The management branded me a trouble-maker and thought I would try and unionize the wait staff. A thought that I’m sure never occurred to me at the time, but maybe in a few months, inspired by the inequities of the job, I’d be the president of the local. Who knows?
If I was born in the time of the savannah I’d be in trouble. Or maybe I’d be the one to dig up the herbs and experiment with them.
The whole idea of transposing my personality to another time as if my personality is a constant is highly suspicious.
I had never seen weather patterns play out across the floor before I moved here. The black and white stripped asbestos formica is frosted with mist. Walk across it and leave your footprints. It’s especially dramatic on the black stripped sections.
The phone just rang. It’s a tele-marketer. A chimney sweep. Pretty startling as I just realized the phone hasn’t rung in days.
Right now I don’t miss it. It never pays to say that too loudly because what if there is a direct line between your thoughts and your future? Think it and then you’re at the mercy of your darkest wishes.
Ah. Now this is the kind of moment I’d expect if I gave myself this exercise in the abstract. Write every day at this time and capture exactly what you see.
And this is what I’d picture. Gray day (why/when did the spelling of grey go to gray) Gray day. Perfect word describes itself in the sound of the words.
Not that I mind. Gray days are my friend. Compare it with the experience of blistering sunshine in Costa Rica 8º from the equator. The story of the planet with two suns that was on a Twilight Zone episode. The concept of a punishing sun codified on TV with probably William Shatner swaying in the heat of the sun. And dying from the punishing rays of the two suns in deadly dramatic ernestness (is that a word?) that only william shatner can muster as if he doesn’t realize or fails to acknowledge that his career is dedicated to the disposable. And that’s fine with him. He’s bringing to it all the weight he can imagine of the moment. Without a trace of humor. Maybe there would be humor in the out-takes. He’d crack up and bust a take cuz of something silly that he can’t get past. And then the camera rolls and he’s William Shatner again. Deadly ernest.
Still gray outside. Dog is sleeping behind me. Washing machine white noise in my right ear. Washing out the skunk smell that was the joy of late Saturday night. Moments before Stop and Shop closed for the night. Skunks are nocturnal. So, it will never be Tripp getting sprayed by the dog say on a Sunday afternoon post having read the paper and eating lunch. In that space between one fun activity and the next where say a grooming the skunk smell out of your dog wouldn’t necessarily be such a terrible thing. Where the prospect of the telling of the anecdote balances out the sheer grossness of scrubbing the dog down with cans of tomato juice.
Or hearing the beeping of the dishwasher upstairs — a feature that is supposed to be a selling point. Signaling to all those fretful people who just can’t wait for their dishes to be done that now is the moment that they are waiting for. Your dishes are done. You can eat now.
Who lives like that? Instead you have to time your dishwashing activity so that at three in the morning having lay in bed for who knows how long and been awaken at 15 minute intervals by the piercing beep of the dishwasher you finally scrap yourself out of bed and stumble to the machine and open the door of the dishwasher to disable the beep.
Maybe I’m missing something. Other appliances have this feature as well. That announces the moment its completed its task. As if life is simply one breathless waiting game.
Is it really any better or worse to dwell on this thought vs. say the memory of yesterday picking apples. The image of reaching towards a bright red apple against this blue of the sky and green leaves and lines of the branches. Threading the crown at the top of the apple picker basket through the branches to the apple. Twisting it and feeling the satisfying weight of an apple falling so gently into the canvas bag and then lowering it down. All the while you feel empty of extraneous thoughts. It’s just you. The apple and the pole. Of course it’s not something I’m doing for a living. If say I was an apple picker I might have two or three sustained moments early in the fall where I feel happy, empty of outside noise, a content picking machine.
The orchard is now strictly a tourist destination. They used to hire workers to come and pick the apples in the orchard but the economics of it didn’t make sense. So now all those apples that get dropped at the beginning of our apple picking outing yesterday don’t get gathered up for cider but stay there and rot. Which I suppose is what apple trees had in mind as part of their strategy for survival.
Which gets me thinking about Michael Pollen’s book The Botony of Desire. I like when a book dances in my head. The idea that all those pioneers who were required to plant at least two apple trees on their free land to start an orchard and that apples were basically poor man’s liquor. Today we think An Apple a Day… Apples are firmly equated with healthy living. But the truth is that apples used to be equated with apple jack.
So there you go from annoying appliances to apple jack. Today’s theme is the letter A.
Big news each day is the weather. It’s the first thing that strikes me when I look out the window. Today it’s rain. Tomorrow sun. Then snow and ice and so on.
That’s how we know one day from the next.
A branch blown side-ways from a branch lies on the bench. That’s it. Goodbye.
Wait for a another thought to occur. Listen to the sounds of the house. I remember how odd it is when we lose electricity. When the electricity is cut off for any number of reasons ranging from black outs to brown outs to white outs (from snow) and then suddenly the house sounds dead. Not that you think of a house as alive but when the purr of electricity stops it’s absence signals the loss of a heartbeat.
There was this terrific story, an odd story in the New Yorker. Don’t usually read the stories but this time (maybe I was on a plane or a train or something where the reading material was getting dangerously thin and time was stretching out before me without any apparent way to fill it — again returning to the image of the house having its own heartbeat). The story took the form of a survey, something of a travelers guide to the land right beyond death. It was as factual and clear and not necessarily tied to any specific character. Really the landscape was the main character. A difficult thing to pull off.
And the first notable feature of this landscape, the phenomenon that people were struck by immediately was this hum, a heartbeat — maybe the heartbeat of the living.
What is this exercise exactly? Precisely? A way to capture the chattering of a brain at 10:11 each morning (with the exception of weekends when it’s just too hard for the most part to carve out time for myself) And then comes the larger question — is it worth it? In other words is ambition tied to it?
Should I establish ground rules or should I just let the gossip of my brain carry me where it will?
I don’t know the answer.
The dog is a bit upset. The landing where he likes to sit curled up (and is right near the air intake vent — how clever cuz now for sure we will always have dog hairs tumbling forever through the air flow system of the house) is licking the rust colored carpet (the carpet that came with the house that in our first smug walk-through thought, the walk-through where we were seriously wrestling with the concept of buying a house, we labeled that carpet as something that would have to go easily within the first year, first six months, maybe the first six weeks. Everything can go in a house. Everything can be changed, fixed, altered or improved all it requires is money and time. Two things that are always in short supply). I think the dog is licking the carpet because it just got vacummed (a rare enough occurance) and it just doesn’t smell right to him.
He’s wet now and that soft skunky swamp smell rises up from him and drifts around the office.
How far I’ve moved from the idea of a heartbeat. Sigh.
Today is the kind of day where even dirty windows look clean. There is something about clean and orderly that lifts your spirit up to a point. That is.
As soon as I feel myself treading too heavily on the joys of clean — clean bedrooms, clean countertops, clean living and dwell too deeply in the clarity that happens spontaeously around the activity of cleaning and the afterglow of moving through that clean space be it the kitchen or your mind I can feel the opposite response as well.
In other words maybe it can be fun for the person doing the cleaning if they are so inclined or newly conververted to the joys of cleaning but for those around the person cleaning it can become oppressive. Is there a simultaneous impulse or is it a cliché that the act of cleaning continually also brings with it an associative love of order and harmony and tidy thinking? And to take it another step, another extreme is there also an avoidance of disharmony, confrontation. A tendancy to smooth things over too quickly and see patterns that belie gritty reality?
I’m talking though of patterns within a fairly confined “norm”. In other words I’m not talking about the state of say a teenage boy’s bedroom or the degree of cleaniness in an under-engaged housewife’s living room who is bewildered that somehow life is passing her by.
I see the young women who wait linger as the bus leaves. Wave to their babies who are now in kindergarter and first grade. They seem so young. And it hits me in that in that moment where I can’t help but slide into a compare and contrast mindset how large the choices are at this point in the world being an American. It’s not a particularly political thought. In other words I don’t for instance think about life how hard life is for 3/4 of the population of the earth at this time vs. my own priviledged existence. Maybe I should. But, that’s not what I’m trying to get to in that moment.
It’s the conscious, deliberate choice to see beyond me and my choices as “good” and their choices as “bad”. Because at first glance their choices represent all the values that I scorned. Worked hard to escape. You can only know the world from your limited level of compassion which is basically as airless as what I imagine the young suburban mother routine is that I think I see unfolding in front of me at the bus stop as I walk pass with Tripp.
Fiction has invested this life with meaning. Idle observation in those rare times that I go to the grocery store augment that which I can imagine I know. What people buy. What’s for dinner. The choices between frozen and fresh under the mindful gaze of those perfectly calibrated celebrities at the checkout.
It’s not after all so foreign to me. It’s not for instance as foreign as traveling to say Morrocco and realizing that here is a person who was brought up with a totally different set of cultural context. And it can be as sharp, bracing and immediate as the drive to drink something impossibly sweet and call it delicious or violate a young woman one on one alone just the two of you and not think of that moment with any sense of remorse or intropsection.
Is this train of thought symptomatic of looking through clean window?
Another crisp early fall day. Fall cleaning. Just got off the phone to tell via messenger that I wont be part of the group’s performance. Performance in front of an audience is an irresistable pull. Make ‘em laugh. Make ‘em cry. Do something emotional to them.
Thinking a lot about that. Ha! Is that the wrong word to use. Think. I have to feel it. But that’s another tangle to unweave. A big fat knot. Right now let’s just sit with the beautifully scrubbed day and me having exempt myself from the writer’s group performance night. Walking away from that belly full of laugh night. Fear of my head shaking in public. Wondering what my script has to do with anything else that’s happening on stage.
Looking for a new writer’s home. Questioning whether or not I really need it. (circling back to the question of an audience)
Don’t decide that. Cuz it’s not an option that anyone who writes or paints or plays music or does anything involving the creative impulse ever shies away from. Do you do it out of (as I heard in a story last night) an excessive need for audience approval?
I do admire storytellers’ bravery. The individual act of standing in front of a mike and taking the dive.
Woosh. First sentence and then you’re off.
So I said the words, pulled myself out and I was expecting I think a feeling of cleaniness. Unburdening. Lightening my load. Feeling that I’m walking inside my own body. But instead there are people I’ve been in a room with. Feelings exchanged. Filling the air with you’re right, I’m wrong. Feelings of resentment and comraderie that I’ve witnessed and generated and been at the receiving end of.
All that muck that goes into a group like this.
And then listening to other people’s humble offerings. Or not so humble. In a way the energy sucker issue as well. The vortex of not being inside yourself that some people can create around themselves. And then yet holding your ground. Using your wit (as Shelagh did with Gary in Hawaii. She recounted that moment for me. Turned it around and continued without residue. Or as I did without wit to my father who is/was probably more at the mercy of his brain biology than I was aware of)
So the issue now is as simple as learning how to live in the world now that I have a slice of time to not worry about money. And I can stop treading water long enough to notice where I am. What is the landscape that I’ve created?
The feeling of walking around the streets of Manhattan alone last night. And being so bored with myself. Thinking vaguely about the script and the character of Luke. Who he might be. Missing being in the company of other people. Or maybe it’s a good thing to be alone like this and discontent because there is something I need to work through in as many different ways as I can — this challenge of being alone.
Hearing a conversation last night with some women about the scarcity of women being alone vs. the commonality and comfort of men being alone. Going to the movies — a conversation I usurped.
I am a conversation unsurper. Maybe everyone is.
In a family where everyone does this to a manical degree and the thread of conversation is as loose as a sail flapping in the wind. The only taut piece of it is the fact that we grew up together and form a fabric of family. But in the here and now I feel jittery and unfocused seated at a table with my family. When is the right time to hold forth? Like tell a story about Hawaii. It’s when everyone has been fed. The blood sugar levels are up and there is the calm that follows a full belly.
Then I can talk and my family is prepared to listen.
So, I return to the conviction and clarity I felt in Hawaii and I’m acting on that. Not on the mucky in between fiction that I’ve been stoking since I joined.
There is value I supposed in letting things slide. Cuz you never do know where things will lead to. But I haven’t made friends in this group. It’s not people I want to get together with in off hours (except maybe Melinda but there is a natural reluctance there)
So, I’m weird. Odd.
But so is everyone. Trick is to accept my oddities and go with it.
Dark jungle like day. Jonah is upstairs lying around like a happy cat. Pawing through the pages of the X-Men book that he got from Jaren. A gut wrenching puking night for him. I had my hand on his back. I held his forehead (cuz that’s the only thing a mother can do when her child is going through something awful alone. She can hold his forehead. Period. And sometimes even that simple act gets in the way. Becomes too much contact for a body that can’t handle any more sensory input)
And today basically he’s earned a day off from the world. Really he could go to school. But it is an unwritten rule after that much puking you earn the right to just laze around and be low energy.
Of course there is the issue of going to karate for Jonah. We’ll see how he is. Kinda crazy and irresponsible parenting I admit.
And watching Breakfast Club with Nick last nigh cuz his teacher is giving the kids extra credit questions that refer back to the Breakfast Club (movie trivia questions which does raise the hackles of panic — Shit! I don’t want to be paying for private school as well as college and retirement but shit, shit shit I’m not doing right by Nick — not giving him what he needs to sharpen himself for the world etc. The freakout that was middle school) Whereas in Breakfast Club the kids are joined together united in their shared bond of hating their parents.
And while I intellectually understand and emotionally remember how much I bristled under my parents control I am not my parents. I consider myself so much cooler. So much more in touch. After all we can listen to the same music. But I am a parent. Not my child’s friend. So I can’t have it both ways.
Shit. Shit. Shit.
Another shocker. My dark jungle day has turned lighter and with it an downpour. Rain falling straight down. A shock (mild on the scale of things but since the “theme” of 10.11 is mindfullness out the window) Cuz I didn’t hear the rain falling. Nothing. I only hear the hum of the dehumidifier going.
Interesting. I turn off this dehumidifier. Still I can hear nothing. And it’s raining hard. Straight down rain. Not slanted but just raining.
Now. Open the door. And now I hear the rain. And feel the cool air. Cool enough that in an hour I’ll be chilled to the bone. But the chill will set in gradually. Like a rainy day on a summer vacation.
Tripp has stationed himself right near the slit of the open door. His nose presses against the screen. And he lifts his nose up in the air to smell.
The deep earthy smell of rain falling on wet earth.
So, what’s today’s throughline?
Can’t name it.
But I do have to close the door. And again I can’t hear the rain at all.
Warning. It’s 10:21 exactly. 10 minutes behind schedule. Not too compulsive of me to notice this. But there you have it.
Will my idle soon be over. Just spoke to a guy at a place about doing a proposal for a meeting that might or might not happen. We work up a whole idea and then YIKES. It goes nowhere. That’ll be $3,500 please. Goodbye.
Oooh and lots of week to work on it. Hurrah!
Sounds like I’m back to taking my life and tossing it out the window again.
Little movement in the plants this morning. Look out and the mums that should burst into flower soon (I hope or did I cut that back too radically as everyone assummed mid-summer?) is shaking back and forth. The leaves move in a dramatic vibrations.
The shadows are deep as the earth tips away from the sun. Today was the first day I could see my breath. Still feel like I’m sleepwalking through the change of seasons. As if my anxiety and feeling the change of seasons acutely will stop the march towards winter.
I would like to be one of those people that simply enjoys the crisp bite of fall. The relief that it’s no longer summer. I am and I’m not. One thing I have noticed is those weeks before the crisp comes where the yellow jackets are everywhere. It coincides exactly with the habit to picnic. Suddenly we get it. We know how to eat outside and the urge to do it is overwhelming. Perfect for the yellow jackets who just laze on your clothes on your hands and then sting when the spirit moves ‘em.
Reminding me of soccer with Nick. Where I’d stand with Alex’s Mom on the sidelines (I can see her died black hair perfectly but not summon her name to mind. She seemed old to me at the time but now I’m easily her age or older) and once I got stung by a bee. She’d be vigalent about the bee-stinging phenomenon. Go instantly into aggressive bee-swatting mode. And only now do I realize that the war is a war for these particular weeks. When the sun is out. It’s warm but the march of the calendar has tipped irrevocably to Halloween.
Back to school night week. Getting back into the swing of work again. (she whispers)
And applying for a NYFA grant. Using the sweet coverage that came with a rejection from a screenplay competition as the scalfolding to build by remarks.
Back to work.
O.K. 10:12 but close. Late to be starting my writing day. But there you have it.
Thought occurred to me while medidating. Don’t know technically if this is cheating or not. Importing an idea into this space and time. But here goes. What if the dead are envious of the living. Nostalgic. Filled with deep sense of longing?
They hang around stuck in a bad cold smoke filled waiting room. The sort of waiting room you’d find in the 50’s in an Eastern Block country. Marginally poor. And peer in at the living. So that the space you occupy as a dead person is that Eastern European waiting room reality. Gray. Dim. Without a sense of the joy of possibility in the moment. Because there is no moment. You are drifting in a timeless realm. There is nothing but the now. there might be then. The then is when you were alive.
And you watch the living with a keen sense of envy. The thought they don’t know what they’ve got. They don’t know how good they have it. They being the living.
And the living go through their life blind and deaf to the music and joy of the now and the future. The now moment influencing the future direction and possibility.
Which somehow brings to mind the awakening that sometimes happens with Nick to the future and what he can do. Vs. the tired feeling that sends him into retreat. I can’t do that. I’ll drop out. The whole thing is so changeable with him. And each change comes packaged with its own sense of immutability and permanence.
Alientation. Deep alientation from the thought that occurred last week. The kind of thought that had him say running for office. Taking AP. Two things that he wants to drop this week.
Where will I find the time? I want to just hang out with friends. Etc.
There is an ebb and flow to the attraction I hold for other people. Sometimes I am on. I am in sync with others. Easy to carry on conversations etc. And sometimes I am distinctly off. Quiet. In retreat from the world.
Think of Norma and her retreat and bravery. How she still harkens back to the romance that failed her in her twenties was it? Marshall. Whose mother didn’t like Norma cuz maybe she was Jewish? Hard to know. And now she does move forward. She has her appetities. Hobbies. THe things she likes to do and not do. And admantly does them. But doesn’t stick her head out from these routines.
Being alone in these patches the last few months I can abundantly understand the stigma of a woman doing something on her own. The discomfort of it.
Eating alone. Navigating the world alone. It takes bravery to talk yourself through it.
And now in the moment realizing I haven’t talked to Norma in months.
Email. The refuge of the lazy. Just in time communication when you want. Fingers fly. Hit send. The dialogue continues or not.
The theme today? The state of simply being alive. The getting in the car, going shopping, going to the gym, feeding the kids, watching TV going to bed and dreaming.
Only to start it all again.
Out the window is Tim’s well-worn gloves. A pair of sheers and a bundle of twine that got caught in a slanting rain storm and is now bulging and mildewing. The cylindrical twine bunches up in the middle to a crown that tempts you to pull the twine from the middle but that’s always a mistake and is the death knell to the bundle of twine. It then becomes another unruly mess that only a patient person, a very patient person can unravel.
Also above it is Tim’s maroon Dunkin’ Doughnuts coffee on the go mug with it’s creamy maroon matching cover. The cover never fits snugly on top of the coffee so that if you apply too much pressure when attempting to fit the cover over the mug the bottom of the mug is liable to slip and spill the hot contents of the coffee all over the ugly kitchen floor.
Next to it is the conch shell that is perfectly illuminated by the early fall lighting. Turned sideways the conch shell looks like a profile of a Frenchman or a hamster with it’s sniffy nose and pointy ears.
There in the shade again to slightly to the right is the squat round river stone that was tumbled to an inviting round shape by the glacers. The stone that Tim hauled back from the back road leading up to Springhurst. The road that in a few years time no one will give a thought to as it calls for repaving every spring and you have to drive across it with caution as the winter gullies accumulate water and some end up being twice as deep as you anticipated.
A subject of conversation for future years. But now it’s freshly paved. The mother-lode of river rocks that caught Tim’s eye are now paved over or set off to the side. We used them to create a dry river bed illusion in the middle of the backyard garden. The garden that is now crying out for early fall work.
A few times a year we do yard work. Gardening. Power gardening. Used to be that it was propelled by dramatic necessity. A hunger to get my hands dirty. Get outside. See what happens. But I’m not nearly as good of a gardener as I was years ago, when putting a seed in the ground was a miracle with assured outcomes. And it always did work for me. With the exception of the basil seeds that needed to be coddled and timed correctly.
Which brings to mind the time that Nick was in 7th grade and I was planting the basil seeds and he comes home to tell me that he didn’t place into Earth Science and I was crushed. That image sticks.
A high-maintance hobby that I love partially so that I can sit down with the seed catalogues and dream of all the lovely plants that will grow in the lazy summer sun and create a perfect blend of harmony and color. I never think big picture.
Sure in gardening I’m painfully aware of my shortcomings. The fact that I have a lousy design eye.
That I can’t remember the names of things. It’s the frontal lobe test.
Every now and then I see Tim’s feet poking in at my extreme left. Right near the euonymus bushes that Tim groomed and trimmed to a perfect round line that sits four-five feet up and provides a home for robins laying eggs in the spring.
I remember the first fall here. And how the living room presented a panorama of oranges and reds. Each graduation slightly different. I had never experienced fall that directly before. I got it.
Despite the worries and the overwhelming sense of lists that needed to be checked off, that was this unexpected pleasure.
There’s Tripp now (again extreme left) poking his head in and out of frame. Smelling Tim’s gloves. Drinking water from the watering can that Loren bought me as a birthday gift. (no more dangling earrings thank you)
Lots of long shadows and euonomus branches falling into frame as Tim cuts and tosses them.
Cut and toss. The rhythm of this writing session.
Right now the sedum, at the height of its glory — dusty rose and perfect lawn green and nearly completely enveloped in shadow. A bit of sun remains on them. Illuminating the tops of the farmost section of the stand.
The rest are in shadow. To the far right they’ve flopped over.
Simon (Pernel’s Simon) asked innocently enough the other day does your sedum flop over? Mine does. As if the rest of the world knew the secret to perfect sedum which he lacked. A combination of sun, dry sandy soil packed with nutrients. An impossible combination.
But there it is — my sedum flopping over.
A list now tickles in the side of my mind. Like a tickle in the back of the throat.
The weekend is coming. The sunny days that demand practically shout at me to mobolize the family and get going. Do something memorable. That would make the family laugh. Make the time melt into a warm evening around the table. Resolving into sharing food together and then renting a movie.
That’s how we know we’ve had a good time.
Still use the toothpicks with the bristle edges that I poke between my teeth and with a deep sense of private satisfaction fish out some teeth goop between my teeth. And then as the toothpick gets older and staler and the firm bristle end starts to bend with the stress of being crammed into my tight teeth spaces I use it to fish around between the letters of my keyboard and bring up the accumulation of stray hairs and dust that settles between the keys.
And then it’s back to work.
Sometimes I trim my cuticles.
Is this a life that I had imagined for myself?
What if I did sell scripts and was hired to write for someone else? Would I dry up? Be able to bring to a hired script the full freedom and gravitas and ownership that I bring to my own work?
Will I ever get a chance to find out?
Or is it that I should just THINK the positive thought and then as if placing an order it will roll out.
And finally there is the phenomenon of friends just dropping by the wayside. They’re leading their lives. I lead mine. Day by day we become less of a habit to each other.
And then we send emails.
The sedum is now perfectly in the shadow of the azalea (as a side bar looked at the bush/shrug, looked at it again and all I could think of was the letter A had to go online and search for flowering foundation bushes before the name popped up)
Propped up the sedum yesterday and the sun now is even slightly further along on its narrowing path towards winter. Funny to track this one constant — the way the light illuminates the sedum. It’s not as far along as it was on Friday. On Friday for instance, the sun was cutting across the full crown of the sedum. Today it’s just at the left most edge of it. The garden is looking shabby today even though yesterday I completed a thorough inventory of it. And I know next spring (should everything survive) there should be four foxglove plants sprouting up making the garden have that wild and lush kitchen garden feel to it.
Jonah is waiting to be fed breakfast.
I’m attempting to fast for a few hours for no other reason than to do my own moral inventory of the year and to help focus and sharpen my resolve and feeling of attonment without the claustrophbic negativitity and dread that usually accompanies the resulution of attonment. I am crap. I am nobody. I quit things. I am not a good member of a group and so on. And seeing Clint Eastwood last night who clearly had worked out a system for himself that has made his life fun. I could put fun in quotes just to let the reader know what I think of this pursuit of simple fun but the truth is that this is really what it’s about going places in your career. Not what it’s all about but an aspect of your life that you hope will pay off. That I hope will pay off.
Jonah still in the kitchen now mulching around for breakfast. And me trying to squeeze in this time before I return to rewriting Act 1 again. Hearing the metallic click of the mop head banging against the floor that could only mean the floor is being cleaned. And knowing that Jonah is making a nusisance of himself and gumming up the works but is being tolerated. Not like I would be if I trumped in there and proceeded to make Jonah breakfast.
Tasting the bad breath which is the flavor of not eating breakfast. The cool of the basement cuz we haven’t turned the heat on yet.
Waiting for our friends from Robison to come and clean the furnace. Leave with bags of debrie that they’ve vacummed out. That can’t be good to simply send through the heating system. So we wait for them to come before we turn the heat on.
Like when we first moved in and had to wait and the new house was cold and dark and both Nick and Jonah were upset after the first flush of the adventure had worn off and they wanted to go back home to Brooklyn where the heat was dependable and the light switches illuminated an area so that we didn’t have to go through pockets of dark continually.
Yom Kipper. Day of attonment. Weighing the world in the measure of sin/no sin. Good bad and indifferent.
Light shifting to the left again ever so slightly illuminating less of the rosy carmine crown of the sedum. The fleshy leaves bathed in less light. Sitting more in shadow.
Giving me a picture of the earth tilting towards and away from the sun on it’s axis. A very 3-D concept. Comparing the yellow green of the sedum leaves to the blue green of the juniper pine leaves. Bristle and blue green. Something you would’t notice unless you glanced back and forth to the sedum. Now the juniper.
Funny how looking around at 10:11 (actually now it’s 10:24) involves looking to the left never the right.
On the right the scene remains mostly brown and beige. With pops of light blue for the nature morte scene in the middle complete with bird nests that have been collected. The box that I have failed to see in years. Suddenly there it is and I’m thinking that I should toss out the old bird nests and “design” something cool inside. Something that brings together an ethnic thing with a doll house impulse. Or a book. A captured book enshrined inside. Hermitically sealed.
Went swimming this morning. Hard to tell if this was good to still the monkey brain (a term I heard yesterday on Fresh Air with an interview with Steve Martin — where you can sense he is a prickly personality. Smart. Hypercritical. You say something and he’s quick to correct what he knows to be the slight mis-speaking. Confident celebrity. Or remembering Clint Eastwood saying in his laconic fashion — well that’s when it started to get fun. A whole different sense of living than I have. Then there’s Joe’s sense of living. Fast. Full paced. Restless to jump on the wave and move. And then the Blair Witch lesson)
The challenge is can I think of something new or am I just rearranging the deck chairs?
And forward — my desk. A stray arrangement of yellow, purle and light blue papers. Some green in the corner. The drivers license curled to match the curl of my butt. The Ardsley Athletic pass with a hole in it. Sitting on top of another yellow piece of paper with notes on it. And in between a curl of one brown hair.
The licorce to my left on the desk. Two packs. Amply supplied and naturally that’s when I’m told that pure licorce destroys pottasium. Hmm. What are the symptoms?
Fell off the wagon. Each day for a different reason. Going to a job. Not being home at 10:11 but being on the road or hullicninatingly tired in front of the client.
Or not having enough time to write cuz the next day went back into the city to meet with a prospective client. An hour and half interview that I had to rush to get to. Sitting in his niche of an office surrounded by snowboards with cool graphics on them. Graphics of snow boards through the ages.
Talking to him about staying in sync with the culture and what is happened now. Not Hollywood’s sense but the sense you need to pull off a meeting where everyone is of a certain age (a young age) and it is always ALWAYS a moving target refining what is cool now. Who is the latest then boil it down to a suburban sense of cool. Not city cool.
And then to the Writers Group to test the waters again with a removed sense of no stakes towards it. What works for me. What doesn’t.
And then Friday. Meeting with Nick’s college advisor and mapping out his future. He’s clueless. We are and so is she in a blue collar sense of expectations.
So that was Friday. And then Saturday. Hmm…Walking the dog. Bringing the kids to the dentist. Going swimming. And then watching Jonah bike (yes I was biking as well)
Pumping his legs. Maintaining his balance like a miracle. Not the moment of the miracle but the aftermath.
And then Friday night. Where we are asleep early — Nick’s swim schedule keeping up hopping at 5 am. Again. Theme of the week.
Phone rings at 11 at its Jonah saying he wants to come home. And I go over. He’s upstairs wanting to talk to me. We talk. He’s not so sure. I’m cleaning upstairs. It’s the old story of Jonah not wanting to do what the group does.
And then Jaren is downstairs. I’m talking to Ellen we hear tears. It’s Jaren perched on top of the inverted chair (the fort experience) crying. The other kids getting on his case. Nasty claustrophbia feeling. He kicks Louie. Louie goes into karate chop mode. Delivering one punch after another. His resting pose is that of a crane waiting to strike again. Or a leopard ready to pounce. One hand is curled softly. The other tense against his side. And he will not relax the pose. He is ready for combat. Ellen is trying to hold Jaren who screams I CAN’T MOVE. My back. Escalating an already very tense scene. I talk to Louie about breathing. He relaxes. We confrance.
I get a game going of completing a story. It’s got farts. Instant bloody death and the kids (there are nine of them packed into a basement area tight as swarming sardines with stingers — each kid his own complex story. No one neutral) The story game changes the energy. Brings humor in. Except for Jaren who insists on his right to kill the character ONCE AND FOR ALL. And so I introduce the reset button so that the game can continue. And then it moves away from the kids each wanting to bail out of the sleepover and go home (a humiliation to Jaren and Ellen) to a little lecture from me (I am screwing up the sequence I’m sure) about sleep away camp and this is what it’s like in the beginning but that you move beyond it.
Don’t know where they came from.
But I was awoken from a dead sleep. Wondering as I left (after Ellen was gently trying to warn me that Jaren is not a good match for Jonah that Jaren is rethinking this friendship and hearing from Ellen all the things jonah did to upset her — told with a smile) why I was allowing Jonah to stay after what I had witnessed. And wanting for Jonah a feeling of victory. Akin to mastering the bike. I’m doing it. I’m getting along with other kids. I’m in the social groove.
And remembering now (the way one thought introduces itself to you while you’re working hard to capture the strain of another) that when I saw Ellen on the open school night, I wasn’t drawn to her as a friend, there was a feeling like I should be avoiding her. When I had pictured the experience of Jonah and Jaren in the same class it was precisely that moment that I was looking forward to. Irony.
Like the lesson of going to camp with your best friend and it is the undoing of the friendship. Maybe the same principle is at work here?
The watering can is tipped at an angle. The mums which in years past have been deep pink, a kind of bubblegum pink. The level of pink that saturates an aisle at ToysRUs is now a pale white. Don’t know if that means it’s on it’s way out.
Funny to see the document of last year’s flower output by looking straight ahead and this year’s living testimony by glancing over my left shoulder.
Which has me thinking about the hot tip Tim gave me about swimming. The challenge now is to breathe not only out of one side (the right) but to switch. Asymetrically breath right. Stroke. Stroke. Slide left. Stroke. Stroke. Breath right. And so on. But the challenge was breathing left. At first the breath left involved this completely uncoordinated move. So thorougly not related to the relative grace of breathing right. Stroke. Breath right. It seemed like I had switched into another body. There was such a low level of correspondence between the right and the left. And then I would determine (once I got used to the new pool) that I would try again. I tried just standing still. Less to coordinate and I did it. And then I tried it while moving and I did it was well. Though it was clear to me that mid-way down the lane I was running out of air cuz I didn’t quite get the gulp of air I needed and was depending too much on the smooth coordination of the right to balance out the difference. So that by the end I was too winded to do it again. But I did. And now, once I’ve realized that it’s all about the glance — where you look. I have this thought though not on an articulated conscious level but somewhere below the surface. Where thoughts bubble, simmer and act only when I’m in the water doing the stroke.
Driving back however, Tim mentioned the issue of the glance (which in my preverbal awareness I chose the ceiling, thereby seemingly guaranting a sufficient pivot to ensure an adequate mouthful of air without the water gulp.
But Tim chose a backward glance. So now I can practice that while sitting here typing away and looking at the pale pink mums and daisies that don’t hold a candle to last year’s explosion of pink feathery pom poms.
There are layers of green just past the pale pink mums.
The green of the evergreen bush. An rich young spring emerald green that disguises the ugly pole of the bird feeder. Poking alongside it, the dark leathery green of the male holly bush that gets ugly ugly in the spring just when the rest of the garden is exploading with its show. Then there’s the pine that might be a juniper that is ratty and has been hacked a million times by Tim, but is home to lots of birds so we are loathe to lose it. And then there is the deeper rich dark forest green of the evergreens across the street. Above that the trees that I watch leafing in during the spring. And behind that is the blush of yellow green of the chestnut tree that will soon loose it’s leaves. And right now as the wind blows sends a flurry of yellow leaves everywhere. When the sun sneaks out the yellow really pops.
10:12 not bad. I think I had moved away irrevocably from this exercise. And now I’m baaack again.
Finished a draft of the script that now goes by the title If Only. Feelign slightly dislocated. I would have spent this time re-reading, re-writing, tweaking the first act, the second and then the third. But now having tweaked straight through till the words the end and the page count is right, I have to give it to other people to read and it puts me in a foul mood. Fretful. Cuz that never goes well. Never brings as much joy as the act of writing it where it’s my world and everyone is saying exactly what I want them to say better than I ever could say it in the moment. And it’s moving along patters that work for me. That reflect what I think should happen to stay taut and dramatically enaging.
Oh, but to make it emotionally engaging?
Look out the window.
I see lots of yellow and green. The sun is feeble, pale, washed out but there. Sufficient to make some shadows off in the distance but not closer up. The sedum for instance is now clocking towards rust but it still has it’s carmine undertones. Not brown yet. Still putting out color. But the sun is nowhere to be seen sufficient to even illuminate the tips of it as it had that day when both Tim and I were struck by it and stopped to photograph the flower heads. But naturally the photographs didn’t capture the glowing luminosity of the green illuminated from above. And then the challenge of placing a sheet in behind it and blocking the luminosity the semi glowing tranluscene of the green.
Wonder at the moment of dying, of leaving your body, is it the emotional connection, the people you love that flash through or the sheer beauty of the world? The morpho butterfly unfolding on a wave of hot air. In a gesture revealing the irredescent blue from the dry leaf brown of its exterior (for instance)
Hear the hum of the leaf blowers baffled by the closed door.
And suddenly it is quiet. Just like that. The clarity and feeling of settlement and stillness that comes mid-way through a meditation when the chattering stops. Just. Like. That.
Lots of ordeals in my daily life. The swim is an ordeal. Going to Naked Angels is a big ordeal. Leaving home at night. (she screams it in her head and then becomes innured to it, tries to dull the panic down. And I do. Determined not to let the fear of going into the city at night without Tim not stop me. The fear of finding parking. Opening the door and having a bike slam into it. Backing up and crashing into a car’s fender. Etc. etc.) All the pieces. And then shoving the script in the woman who had just performed a hateful scene on stage (involving two witty and manipulative gay men, exuding their sexuality that was hateful to women playing a game that is so much more advanced that simply I love you you love me let’s exchange body fluids) and all the residue that came with it. And rather than mingle, I’m desperate to get home so that I can lie in bed and roll around wired. Unnerved. Stimulated. But still amiss. Hearing lots of work. Not all of it brilliant. But of a piece. Reflecting the sensibility that is distinctly not on the nose commercial.
So who knows what they will say to me.
The theme then is the morning after printing up the first draft. A draft I can hold in my hands and wonder, what comes next?
The toad lilly is in the ground now. Right in front of me. The white conch shell is slightly to the left. The round flat river stone and the green metal leaves surrounding it to the right. Near the end of the wall. The watering can tipped at an angle as if caught in the act of beginning to bring the relief of a long awaited drink right below it.
Beautiful meals with red wine await me.
That’s in answer to the ordeal.
As I was walking the dog it was 10:11. exactly. On the dot. This morning so many steps to get to this point of sitting here. With the blank of no script half-way done. No half-way completed conversation. Dialogue. Point of focus. Or just a nasty typing habit?
Hear the sounds of the leaf-blowers muffled in the background. Ha — just now it stopped. Argument with the leaf blower guy about blowing the leaves onto my “property” the sanctity of my property. Not his fault. The wind does it.
The roar picks up again. Ends up according to the leaf blower guy that it is legal between the months of Oct and November. The height of leaf-blowing to use whatever decibel it takes to amass the leaves and move on.
Again the themes of cleanliness. The relief of it referred to. Vs. the insanity of squandering gas to haul up leaves. The demands of the seasons employee people. Round and round the dull argument goes. But the roar continues.
OK that’s what I hear.
What do I see?
Still the sun off shining at some distant spot. I can see streaks of blue. But not in the garden. The watering can still tipped. The sedum clocking ever so gently towards brown.
And the leaf-blowers.
Each night there’s been “something to do”. Each day “something to do”. It’s the march of this point in my life. The busy October period. Then it gets dull again. Day in. Day out.
Needed: Good news. O.K. that’s an outside pouring into my life petition. Not unlike the criticism of my last script where the thing that bothered one reader was that the “plot” the story was propelled by a man with a gun.
Same thing. Make it happen (another familiar dusty impulse caught in the cycle of dull thoughts that don’t encourage air).
What if we meet an English professor and you think s/he is all about the dusty accumulation of some arcane knowledge that represents a civilized past and all the civilization represents. Both the good — the well-behaved the orderly in the face of suicide bombers and madness. And the dull and fully digested. And lo this English professor for all his/her dustiness also understands in the sense of s/he proudly stands for the wisdom inherent in great writing.
Chewing over the Eve Ensler film this week and how she was explaining the finite nature of crime vs. the rest of life. Where you can blend, change the truth, grow evolve but with a murder you stop time. You stop the person whome you killed. And you also dramatically stop your own time cuz this you can not undo.
I will stay open during this time to what causes this dullness to stop. It’s like I say to Nick and Jonah that boredom is a gift cuz whatever stops it is something that interests you.
And lo may it not always be video games.
It’s the journey towards seeing yourself objectively. And the journey had best be a ripping tale.
That’s the trick.
10:11 on the dot. Had to re-read old entries to remember how this is done. It’s been that long. (or so it feels) The watering can is amazingly still tipped on its side. Though I remember righting it. Must be something about it that causes it to tip. Like a cut-away shot in a Twilight Zone opening that cues us into the mischief that awaits and very short Rod Serling steps into the foreground to let us know that more mischief awaits. A series of small baby steps of mischief. A light comedy with a bumbling guy and his wife that brow beats him on a Saturday.
Look out the window.
The bag of leaves that Tim had accumulated from the driveway. The gardening tools propped up as indifferent verticals. The yellow and brown leaves on the bench. Aha and the roofing guy walking back and forth with a three-four foot length of aluminum gutters (wonder what he’s doing with that) and a bit of bush greenery in his hand. Looks like the kind of guy who was sweet. Slightly slower than most to navigate his way through the complexity of a math problem. Nothing wrong with that.
Now he returns with what looks like a snow shovel and a broom. I know about the roof being built with used bricks. And how for a few minutes after Tim discovered it it seemed that our world was once again in a deep state of FUCK. Now I have to deal with yet another headache that won’t resolve itself well.
And Don Brown the roofer is good to his word. Conversation with Tim about the weather. And Tim clues him into the fact that his job is like that of a farmer in so far as he is dependent on the good will of many sunny days. Sunny days is a good season for him. Cuz the jobs are probably always there.
Which brings to mind the cycle of business. And how the music business is founded on the model of steady money is best. But then when trying to match that model up with the demands of something as ephemeral as art, creativity it falters. And turns what we all do as humans, namely make up songs, tell stories into a business that by virtue of what it’s started has to be as reliable as a grocery store.
Heard this interview with a woman on the radio yesterday — a composer and she talked about the phenomenon of scratching.
(sidebar note — I notice today I’m barely looking out the window. So now that I notice that this is what I’m doing I steal a peek)
Scratching being that process at the beginning of a new cycle. Where one piece is “done” but not done. Not done in the sense that it hasn’t been performed. Given to the world. Presented in any real fashion. And she’s in that in-between place. Very uncomfortable. And she scratches for the next idea.
Throws things into a box and sees what sticks. Like cooking spaghetti and tossing it on the wall. Like being a college student who discovers the joy of not giving a shit about housekeeping. The sheer freedom expressed in tossing spaghetti on the wall and with pride allowing it to join the other strands of cooked spaghetti now hardened on the wall.
Three ideas. This goes to another file.
Bag of leaves leaning agains the screen door on the far left. Waiting for Tim to remove the screen door. Really this is something that I can do. So do it (she yells to herself)
Is this simply my typing excerise. Let my fingers dance across the keyboard?
Funny thing today is that the watering can now rest square on the aggregate cuz I picked it up yesterday while Jonah and I were brooming the driveway and discovered a chunk of leaves that the can was resting on. So, now it’s square.
Could I date my awareness of the can being at an angle to that first day of starting 10.11?
It is clear. The leaves are off the trees. Suddenly. Just like that I’ve got bare brown limbs ot look at. Illuminated slightly by the sun. A few bottom limbs still have yellow green leaves on them. But for the most part it’s the end of the fall. Waiting for winter. Wearing my old winter coat with the broken zipper cuz I really do like it more that my new winter coat. The old gray mare Patagonia.
So many unpleasantness on my mind these past few days. It’s that scratching period. Trying to find the strength, the direction to start something new. The next obsession. Conversation. Writing then.
Or, it could stop.
No one would be the wiser.
This is my life on Thursday — a fantastically windy day. Trees I am told are coming down and severing power lines. Falling on cars. Little flecks of dirt are flying into people’s eyes and causing them to double over in unexpected pain. Cutting off their sentences mid-stream as they deal with this the demands of the weather and their body. Surprise.
Me? I’m sitting here watching it all. Still the bags of leaves are outside the door. Still the mums are surviving the onslaught of the falling temperature. Eating bits of food and typing.
Dealing with the empty space that is my writing life right now. Odd. Not worried about money particularly. Vauge worries about the kids. Jonah being lonely. Cut off. Nick being distracted and not really busting his hump or discovering within himself a true capacity for work.
Getting his grade from the poetry project he initiated. Returning to his former glory with that first poem that he composed under Tim’s gracious eye and ear. And becoming attached to a clever turn of phrase. But not learning the harder lesson which is what do you want to say here that merits my passion, my interest. An idea of taking him to see Sylvia just to rub his nose in what real poetry passion looks like.
Going through all my bits of paper on the desk. All the things I wish I had time to do. Talking to Dan yesterday about having the time to go to that dark place and think a new thought. And being so supremely disappointed in yourself.
What’s next? That’s the big question.
Waiting for a phone call from the library saying my books are in. Do I dare do a historical story? Big other and not mine. And how do I take the shapeless contours of a life and tell it with bravado?
Less pain today in my side. That’s good.
Scrubbed clean by the wind which continues today even stronger. Noticed that the sedum is now illuminated by the sun again. I’m guessing (like the way you guess what’s going wrong with your body in a minor way, the vauge aches and pains) that the leaves have shed their leaves. The cherry tree for instance that screened the sun as it dipped down towards the low of the winter axis. The earth tilts away. And now the sedum leaves once again are back lit revelaing strange shadows on the fleshy green leaves. Shadows from the other sedum branches bending towards the ground slowly. The azalea bush (that Tim supplied the name for thank you suddenly a name isn’t there. I’m seeing the letter A have to go online to research it. I point to it as Tim walks past and he tells me azalea — freaky it’s the brain that you think you can will into behaving but you can’t — like the discussion I had with Nonnie yesterday about drugs and dopamine centers) casting it’s shadow on the sedum.
And thinking about gravity and Sir Isaac Newton. Who had a thorough understanding of math. Math as a tool really like a jet pack that could send him hurtling anywhere in the universe that he wanted to go. And he could measure and calculate distance and diameter and strenght of forces and the pull of gravity, the potential height of waves, the behavior of the sun. All with a tool that in figuring it out now with what he knows as a constant in my life I can only begin to imagine the vague outlines of what he knew.
And how his life had nothing to do with food, babies, money, home, friends. All the forces that shape my life were foreign in his life. 10:28 my favorite part of the day. Before it goes flabby.
Rain, rain and more rain. The screen is gone now and the rain drops bead up against the door. That’s how rainy it is. The gray of the sky is a solid pearly gray. Not a touch of the lavendar that is so bewitching. The idea of people saying gosh I’m crazy about this person. Speaking more from the heart. Something I lack.
Heard this thing on the radio this morning about Dr. Dean Howard running for president. A doctor who had dangled his stethoscope in front of the audience as a testament to the fact that he would never not do right by patients. And he lost a brother who was traveling (not even serving) in Vietnam or Laos and his body has never been recovered. And the reporter stated how the death of his brother propelled him to a more serious and ambitious life. One that included first going to medical school and then running for office. Because the specter of death was suddenly real to him? Maybe not as one on one as that.
But maybe that’s what happens to the character of Kevin after he finishes his wacky mourning period. And he yells has a confrontation with the video teacher. Then stay out of my way.
And going back to that initial kick-off idea of what the death of Dr. Dean’s brother did it also helped him to not be timid about life. But seize every opportunity and say I love you with ease to those that you love. And make the most of what comes your way.
Yeah. You betcha.
Such a gray day. Not the butterfly on the aggragate day. But today the watering can is smack in the middle of my frame. Makes me want to paint it, it’s so gray and directional. Below is the coiled brick red hose. At first glance it looks as if water is dribbling out of the mouth of the hose and then you look closer and see that in fact the water dribbling out of the hose probably a while ago created a small puddle about the size of the silver dollar (another story) and rain drops fall into the puddle like heart beat rhythms. And now looking even closer I see in fact the aggregate has a little indentation which is evidence of how it needs repair and that’s the source of the silver dollar sized puddle. Tap tap in the rain.
The silver dollar story — bizarre intro to a radio piece about visiting with a boxer in jail. In fact I heard the story twice. Once first thing in the rude morning where all we both wanted was to scratch our way back to sleep for at least another hour. But instead settle for a fifteen minutes on the snooze bar. And then heard it again later on the way to the doctors. So in fact all I ever heard was the opening. The awkward opening which is the two uses of a silver dollar bill. The slot machines and buying something in a prison. Which gets you thinking about that fact, not about the subject of the piece — a sad story about a boxer with promise who now has a record and is in fact still serving time in jail.
Yeah, I could blab on all morning.
Post Thanksgiving Monday. Extra weight. Extra tonage. Stiff body. Goodbye.
No wait there’s more. Out the window. Gray sky. There was a sliver of blue before. But now it’s just layers of gray and dark gray. Brown limbs of the tree across the way. The bird feeder is drying in the backyard. A spurt of enthusiasm for getting things done “accomplished”. One being cleaning out the bird feeder with Clorox. And washing it off millions of times.
And now it’s empty. Missing actually. There is the missing bird feeder and the gray sky. Not a heavy oppressive gray right now. In other words there is space between the gray and the tree limbs. There is the green also of the evergreens that all have names but I tumble through remembering them.
And the male holly tree with the now orange berries. Remember walking to school in Buffalo and living in a new neighborhood and being aware of all these things for the first time like the orange berries of the holly. Or the bittersweet of the orange berries that Fern used to decorate Thanksgiving.
And what I learned in terms of expecting too much from Nick. And twisting him under the weight of my demanding expectations. Vs. Fern being happy with where her kids are. And they are more “normal” and kid friendly and their social skills are not wanting. She doesn’t seem as needy as me. With Jonah curled up with books but unable to talk to kids only adults. Play the impressive kid role with them. Easy to wow grandma.
And last night reading Of Human Bondage and seeing our main character turn his back on Oxford and the dull education in favor of living in Germany and going off on an adventure. His main occupation being learning a little bit every day from these wacky teachers. And watching Nick being an indifferent student and not letting him off the hook.
Woah! This is like 4 months later. And my fingers moving with reluctance and hitting the wrong keys and not sure how to start again. Just re-read all the entries. Probably skimmed some just to get on with it. The pages accumulate. The main character is the light on the sedum. And now?
Well there is the neon triangle that is the inflatable snow sled. It’s called The Comet. To the side is the blue, foam blue sled. The snow shovels to the extreme left. The sedum — the famous sedum — a mass of brown — no in fact that is the azalea. And the sticks sticking out the ground which was the propping up for the sedum.
I look and see the division of the sliding glass door. The wood in the middle most of all. Focus on that.
And the door which was squeeling so loudly all winter long when it froze. Squealing as I talked to clients on the phone. All day. Every day for a few weeks. 6-7 calls a day. Back to back. Till the battery was worn down.
And Tim right now has someone over to look at his work. Maybe she will help him get a show at a gallery. Where people actually respond to his work. Write about it. So that the work that he does every day doesn’t fall into a well of silence. Nothing. Big fucking deal.
At least when people respond there’s that.
Watering can still there. This time the spout is facing to the right as I look at it.
This does feel weird. The writing thing. The emptiness.
I just have to wait and wait some more.
2005 Monday in the Summer
It’s 10:12 – 10:13. And I just did this weird thing of looking at my fingers in order to type.
I’ve just re-read this whole thing. Skimmed it more. This is me for sure. The aggregate is gone. Tim re-did it with brick and slate. Cuz we had to re-do the patio outside my office last fall. Just in sync with me not getting work. The beginning of my slow down. But not realizing that is indeed what is going on. Still it had to be done. The clear stream that bubbled to thesurface meaning that the driveway had to ripped up. The area outside my office was ripped up. I walked across rubble with the guys working right outside my door. A hunk of wood to keep me inside and protect the glass from the workers. And Tim roter-rootering the pipe clean so that the water would flow.
But what is it I want to say today? I’m looking at this file, this style of writing to capture what I see at 10:11 on a Monday is summer. The kids are at camp. Me and Tim are alone and I do have the time now to think of the quiet that used to be narrative confidence. The well going still. The fact that McKee’s guidance is kicking around inside me and he says that it’s not that your gift has abandoned you it’s just that you have nothing to say.
So there it is. I have nothing to say right now.I realize that I’ve never been all that good as a writer. If I had been then I would have gone somehwhere with the writing. It would have struck a spark.
And finally I understand the secret weapon of a writer who knows his/her subject — what is it that say Dickens writes about (abject childhood) or Irving (children dying. Single Moms missing Dads) the pain that has animated your life. You can’t cheat that. You can’t fake that. It fills the world with specific observations. And when I look back and reflect on something it’s gone.