Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cut Time

Friday, March 26, 2010

2009: A Year in Gratitude

For every day in 2009, I wrote down one thing for which I was grateful. Then I stuck in in the sidebar of this blog. It was kind of a smarmy exercise, but you know what? It made me marginally happier. And I'll take marginally happier any day. So I'm starting up again. Yes, I've missed almost a third of 2010, but better late than never. And here's 2009, for posterity. If you are masochistic enough to read through the entire document. you'll notice there are some days missing. These coincided with the Great Evil. I'm not Superwoman.
  • 12.31.09: Good weather
  • 12.30.09: Lost in the mountains; maps
  • 12.29.09: Fences and horses
  • 12.28.09: Leftover pizza
  • 12.27.09: First footsteps in the white out
  • 12.26.09: Wind; B-line; dusting of snow
  • 12.25.09: Caramel cruch & bad cable
  • 12.24.09: Five miles
  • 12.23.09: Road
  • 12.22.09: Poetry
  • 12.21.09: Wrapping it up
  • 12.20.09: Luminaria
  • 12.19.09: Empty spoon
  • 12.18.09: White elephant! Baguette!
  • 12.17.09: Margaritas & flute
  • 12.16.09: Frosty morning
  • 12.15.09: Penne with chives, goat cheese, and pine nuts.
  • 12.14.09: Sun on a day off
  • 12.13.09: Dinner parties
  • 12.12.09: Sleeping
  • 12.11.09: Teaching
  • 12.10.09: The brand new bakery
  • 12.9.09: Birthday buddy
  • 12.8.09: Cheesebread
  • 12.7.09: First snow
  • 12.6.09: Nutracker; pomegranite mimosas
  • 12.5.09: That nice man outside security gave me one of his donuts. And a banana! Score!
  • 12.4.09: Endurance; sidecars
  • 12.3.09: Running down the beach at sunset
  • 12.2.09: Hotel room with beach view
  • 12.1.09: Skillz
  • 11.30.09: I didn't come home with that sombrero
  • 11.29.09: Catching up
  • 11.28.09: Alone time; booth dining
  • 11.27.09: Dad
  • 11.26.09: Giving thanks
  • 11.25.09: Banter
  • 11.24.09: Indianapolis Monthly
  • 11.23.09: New projects
  • 11.22.09: Huevos Rancheros in good company
  • 11.21.09: Deep River; By and By
  • 11.20.09: No one hassled me on the bus
  • 11.19.09: I remembered your birthday
  • 11.18.09: The fake fake coffee cup
  • 11.17.09: New stuff to do
  • 11.16.09: Rolling with the punches
  • 11.15.09: The dining room table is stable!
  • 11.14.09: Houseguests make you clean the toilet
  • 11.13.09: Detente
  • 11.12.09: Leftover pumpkin bread
  • 11.11.09: Practice sight-singing
  • 11.10.09: The fire in the belly was metaphorical fire
  • 11.9.09: Queso
  • 11.8.09: Dinglederry Hall
  • 11.7.09: Tea with murder
  • 11.6.09: Tortilla junket
  • 11.5.09: Blogs about other people's daily food intake
  • 11.4.09: Nutella
  • 11.3.09: Nothing doing
  • 11.2.09: Doing nothing
  • 11.1.09: November
  • 10.31.09: Hamstrings
  • 10.30.09: Roller Derby: Pirates vs. Ninjas
  • 10.29.09: Ghost stories; pumpkin spice
  • 10.28.09: Staying home
  • 10.27.09: I am not one of the girls working the corner
  • 10.26.09: Guts
  • 10.25.09: Toes flush with the Great Lake
  • 10.24.09: Peace
  • 10.23.09: Parmesan
  • 10.22.09: Leaf; leaf; leaf
  • 10.21.09: Surprise champagne
  • 10.20.09: Mashed sweet potatoes
  • 10.19.09: Lake Griffy
  • 10.18.09: Lamb in bernaise
  • 10.17.09: Sun
  • 10.16.09: Adult students
  • 10.15.09: Flute
  • 10.14.09: Couch
  • 10.13.09: V. was not as bad as he could have been
  • 10.12.09: Fall
  • 10.11.09: Walkable
  • 10.10.09: Oatmeal & deja vu
  • 10.9.09: Ceylon tea with honey in a white cup
  • 10.8.09: Colony Hotel
  • 10.7.09: Plum & goldfish crackers
  • 10.6.09: Fresh Florida shrimp
  • 10.5.09: Free wi-fi
  • 10.4.09: Tom yum
  • 10.3.09: Cup after cup of tea
  • 10.2.09: Walking to work under a labile sky
  • 10.1.09: Home visit
  • 9.30.09: Good teachers
  • 9.29.09: Self-control
  • 9.28.09: Greasy spoon
  • 9.27.09: Walkabout
  • 9.26.09: Pink
  • 9.25.09: Prosciutto
  • 9.24.09: Lemon
  • 9.14.09: Dark blue sky
  • 9.13.09: 10-hour rest
  • 9.12.09: 5K
  • 9.11.09: Mothers
  • 9.10.09: The perfect dentist
  • 9.9.09: Coming clean
  • 9.8.09: Meatloaf & gravy
  • 9.7.09: Quiet
  • 9.6.09: Goodbyes
  • 9.5.09: Walnut leaves; descent
  • 9.4.09: French press
  • 9.3.09: Pasta w. melted cheese
  • 9.2.09: A sense of humor
  • 9.1.09: Accumulated savvy. I think they call this experience.
  • 8.31.09: Turkey Run
  • 8.30.09: The olive at the bottom of the martini
  • 8.29.09: A really good mystery
  • 8.28.09: That baking-bread smell
  • 8.27.09: Hot pink; kelly green
  • 8.26.09: Officemates
  • 8.25.09: Productivity spike
  • 8.24.09: Daisy eggs
  • 8.23.09: Bloomington, IN
  • 8.22.09: Beef; corn; cucumber
  • 8.21.09: Revision
  • 8.20.09: Radiant heat
  • 8.19.09: After driving the wrong way on the wrong street for 20 minutes, sushi!
  • 8.18.09: Bagels to celebrate non-invasive cancer!
  • 8.17.09: Bob the Wobble Clock
  • 8.16.09: Forgiveness
  • 8.15.09: Pie
  • 8.14.09: Time to read a novel in a day.
  • 8.13.09: Sore hamstrings
  • 8.12.09: Half day!
  • 8.11.09: Half-block commute to work
  • 8.10.09: Giggling colleagues
  • 8.9.09: Farmers
  • 8.8.09: Six miles on the towpath
  • 8.7.09: Free parking
  • 8.6.09: Will
  • 8.5.09: Breathing
  • 8.4.09: Idaho from 39,000 feet
  • 8.3.09: Sea
  • 8.2.09: Shanghaied from an unfamiliar airport!
  • 8.1.09: Marinade
  • 7.31.09: Sunrise run amidst the roses
  • 7.30.09: Nose to the glass over Mt. Adams
  • 7.29.09: Clean room
  • 7.28.09: Accomplishment
  • 7.27.09: Friends who shout at groundhogs
  • 7.26.09: Surprising shakiness.
  • 7.25.09: Wine saver
  • 7.24.09: Roasted beets
  • 7.23.09: Fountain Square and the DMV
  • 7.22.09: Carryout
  • 7.21.09: Cooperation
  • 7.20.09: Better bus service
  • 7.19.09: Good music with good friends
  • 7.18.09: Chilaquiles at Cafe Selmarie
  • 7.17.09: Friends who pick you up at the train station and thereafer ply you with cheese
  • 7.16.09: Cold plums
  • 7.15.09: Broiler cheese toast
  • 7.14.09: Sore muscles
  • 7.13.09: New and chipper doctor
  • 7.12.09: Shortcuts
  • 7.11.09: Buttery grits
  • 7.10.09: Under the awning just in time
  • 7.09.09: One-keyed flute on loan
  • 7.08.09: Olive was a dog who licked, not bit
  • 7.7.09: Words
  • 7.6.09: First cherry tomatoes of summer
  • 7.5.09: Eating bad quesadillas in a parking lot west of Dayton
  • 7.4.09: Blue eyes, dark hair. I love this combo, and it happens to be mine. SCORE.
  • 7.3.09: The wisdom to ignore the slightly insulting portion of slightly insulting compliments
  • 7.2.09: Mac & cheese
  • 7.1.09: Merula
  • 6.30.09: Fireflies
  • 6.29.09: Cooling off
  • 6.28.09: Pizza/beer
  • 6.27.09: Farmers' market chard
  • 6.26.09: Avocado melt plus tater tots and sidecars
  • 6.25.09: Lapsang souchong
  • 6.24.09: Alone in the old farmhouse
  • 6.23.09: Fiddle
  • 6.22.09: Cross relations! Musical, not familial.
  • 6.21.09: Safe travels
  • 6.20.09: Garage sales
  • 6.19.09: Lager
  • 6.18.09: It was a dark and stormy morning
  • 6.17.09: Prosciutto and mozarella
  • 6.16.09: Electricity
  • 6.15.09: Strolling down to the coffee shop midmorning
  • 6.14.09: The slow blink
  • 6.13.09: G&T
  • 6.12.09: Philippe Starck
  • 6.11.09: Strawberries
  • 6.10.09: Crispy friend cheese
  • 6.9.09: Murder mysteries
  • 6.8.09: Wind; leaves; coffee
  • 6.7.09: Waking up slow
  • 6.6.09: Zumba; that one green wall
  • 6.5.09: The secret bench
  • 6.4.09: Vietnamese spring rolls
  • 6.3.09: Rain
  • 6.2.09: New friends
  • 6.1.09: Getting it done
  • 5.31.09: Liberal quantities of wine and cheese
  • 5.30.09: The book was checked in
  • 5.29.09: Ultimate lunch duty
  • 5.28.09: Penultimate lunch duty
  • 5.27.09: Outside
  • 5.26.09: Bedtime
  • 5.25.09: Route 40
  • 5.24.09: Tarragon
  • 5.23.09: Diner hash browns
  • 5.22.09: Char
  • 5.21.09: Time out
  • 5.20.09: Iced tea
  • 5.19.09: Instead of accompanying 80 Kindergartners to the zoo, tea.
  • 5.18.09: Appreciation
  • 5.17.09: Sweet air
  • 5.16.09: Walking shoes
  • 5.15.09: Cream puffs
  • 5.14.09: Sweat
  • 5.13.09: Choir
  • 5.12.09: Instant justice
  • 5.11.09: Teacher coffee!
  • 5.10.09: The experimental muffins were superlatively edible
  • 5.9.09: Scallions, radishes, lemon, salt
  • 5.8.09: Beethoven Five
  • 5.7.09: Rubber ducks
  • 5.6.09: Free roast beef sandwich!
  • 5.5.09: Sleep after a hard day
  • 5.4.09: Radio
  • 5.3.09: A conversation with a 3-year-old that did not involve coercion
  • 5.2.09: Lox
  • 5.1.09: Absences
  • 4.30.09: Sick days
  • 4.29.09: I squeaked that traffic light
  • 4.28.09: Veging on the couch
  • 4.27.09: The cessation of barfing
  • 4.26.09: Talking about home
  • 4.25.09: The rare itch to clean
  • 4.24.09: Unexpectedly smooth transitioning of tiny people from classroom to bus
  • 4.23.09: Lilacs crowding the verge
  • 4.22.09: Riotous tulips
  • 4.21.09: Inside
  • 4.20.09: Home
  • 4.19.09: Complimentary goldfish crackers
  • 4.18.09: Suites!
  • 4.17.09: The most awesome post-concert cookie spread this side of heaven
  • 4.16.09: Bouillabaisse
  • 4.15.09: I got out of work half an hour early
  • 4.14.09: I tie my shoe on a rusty fire hydrant
  • 4.13.09: Gray and rain
  • 4.12.09: Daffodils
  • 4.11.09: Climbing Crown Hill: mausoleums, skyscrapers
  • 4.10.09: My job entails making up many, many new and suspicious verses of Wheels on the Bus
  • 4.9.09: Car windows that roll down automatically. Amazing!
  • 4.8.09: I successfully taught a kid to say "skunk." O the efficacy.
  • 4.7.09: Inexpensive Spanish red
  • 4.6.09: Fleur de sel
  • 4.5.09: All-day deluge
  • 4.4.09: I don't yet have kids. Thank God.
  • 4.3.09: Muddy divagation
  • 4.2.09: Time for both a run AND a walk
  • 4.1.09: Friends who breakfast
  • 3.31.09: Cheap shoes
  • 3.30.09: Sore shins from walking so hard
  • 3.29.09: 24 hours of solitude
  • 3.28.09: I am free to plummet into exhaustion
  • 3.27.09: Unexpected rendezvoux
  • 3.26.09: Free lunch
  • 3.25.09: Last lunch duty for 10 days!
  • 3.24.09: Safe return
  • 3.23.09: The egregious sense of accomplishment that comes w. taking out the trash
  • 3.22.09: Long walk
  • 3.21.09: Leftover wine
  • 3.20.09: I didn't cook dinner
  • 3.19.09: Car radio. Cupholders are nice, too
  • 3.18.09: Staring into space
  • 3.17.09: Distance
  • 3.16.09: Notaries public
  • 3.15.09: Listing trees
  • 3.14.09: I know more than I know I know
  • 3.13.09: Those really tasty chocolate cookies in the lounge.
  • 3.12.09: Gloriously alone
  • 3.11.09: Low-stakes music-making
  • 3.10.09: Old man on ground talks to young man on roof about France
  • 3.9.09: Blue kitchen; radio; late sun
  • 3.8.09: Home fries with vegetables and cheese
  • 3.7.09: Red jacket; coffee in white cups
  • 3.6.09: Coffee run!
  • 3.5.09: Friends who've seen you sleepy. Or young.
  • 3.4.09: Periodicals
  • 3.3.09: Thin mints
  • 3.2.09: Buoyancy
  • 3.1.09: Local coffee shop
  • 2.28.09: Morning untrammeled
  • 2.27.09: We got to the truffle warehouse a few minutes before it closed
  • 2.26.09: Midwestern sky
  • 2.25.09: Friendly faces
  • 2.24.09: Not puking!
  • 2.23.09: Gratitude and puking don't mix.
  • 2.22.09: Empty Interstate
  • 2.21.09: I wasn't driving
  • 2.20.09: Pavan
  • 2.19.09: A good night's sleep
  • 2.18.09: Fortitude!
  • 2.17.09: Green tea with ginger
  • 2.16.09: Dead presidents
  • 2.15.09: Coming home
  • 2.14.09: Heated seats. Heated seats!
  • 2.13.09: Hotel breakfasts
  • 2.12.09: Pilots
  • 2.11.09: Walking wet; drying off
  • 2.10.09: "All My Exes Live in Texas"
  • 2.9.09: After some trial and error, I figured out how to make the toilet stop overflowing
  • 2.8.09: Napping in front of the space heater
  • 2.7.09: AM
  • 2.6.09: Sleepiness
  • 2.5.09: In the dark, listening to Garrison
  • 2.4.09: Not getting caught
  • 2.3.09: Parents who actually care
  • 2.2.09: Local news
  • 2.1.09: Thaw
  • 1.31.09: When I take a walk, the church bells tell me how long I've been out
  • 1.30.09: Leftovers
  • 1.29.09: Eavesdropping
  • 1.28.09: Knives; wine; blue
  • 1.27.09: Weather radar
  • 1.26.09: Sick days
  • 1.25.09: $2 mimosas at Elements
  • 1.24.09: Empty house
  • 1.23.09: The Psychologist brought me coffee!
  • 1.22.09: It is slightly less cold than yesterday
  • 1.21.09: Chitchat
  • 1.20.09: Barack Hussein Obama
  • 1.19.09: Vigor
  • 1.18.09: Light, like fat, marbling the sky
  • 1.17.09: Cake and coffee
  • 1.16.09: Dawdling
  • 1.15.09: Light on snow
  • 1.14.09: Grace
  • 1.13.09: Grape nuts: startling, salty
  • 1.12.09: Whoever left that bag of licorice allsorts in the staff lounge. I hope you didn't want that back.
  • 1.11.09: Second breakfast
  • 1.10.09: Subversions of expectation
  • 1.9.09: StoryCorps
  • 1.8.09: 9:00 AM sun over the graveyard
  • 1.7.09: Um...eat my dust, 1.7.09!
  • 1.6.09: That particular tree
  • 1.5.09: I am not a fisherman of Dungeness crab
  • 1.4.09: Mist
  • 1.3.09: Lavender
  • 1.2.09: I live within walking distance of a branch library
  • 1.1.09: Berea, KY

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Geeks, Turds

There's this idea floating around that the kernel of every unhappiness, the seed from which it sprouts, is want. Like most ideas, this one is both right and wrong, but lately what I've been tasting is the rightness, the ways in which the idea reveals itself to be -precisely and terribly- true.

You want something. You get it. Then, tooth and nail, you defend it. I do this with free time. A year ago I wouldn't have dreamed of wanting -let alone needing- my evenings free. Yet now I eschew everything I can that takes me out of the house after 8. I want the time to wind down, to settle in. I want an early night.

All these other things I've laboriously acquired, that I feel I must defend. It's exhausting. The time to exercise. A kitchen of my own. Cable internet, a library within walking distance, the perfect part-time job. Any part-time job. Financial security. Emotional security. The sheer temerity of being alive.

The idea is, you're supposed to stop. You're supposed to appreciate what you have, live in the moment, blah blah blah, set everything else adrift. And sure, there are things from which, if I try, I can unmoor myself. My wildest hopes and dreams, for starters. Sleep, if I must, though the lack of it renders me both witless and overbearing, like a bossy four-year-old. I can do without eating out, without my childhood teddy bear, without more than half of my books.

But then comes Saturday, when I drive down to my hometown for a friend's 29th birthday party. H downs two bellinis and enough chocolate to stupefy a Clydesdale; I follow her excellent example. We bicker about how long we'd known each other; she claims third grade, I assert fourth.

Honestly, I'm not sure. The things about which I'm certain are sparks, brief flashes of light. At nine, H was jealous of my ankle socks. At twelve, I was jealous of her pique turns. At eighteen I borrowed her prom dress. At nineteen, I acquired a twitchy cellist with a bowl cut; she dated a future investment banker. We compared notes. We got dumped. We wanted to change the world and there's a whole lot I'm forgetting in between, because that's how things are when you grow up together: you forget.

Or rather, you remember, but each memory is attached to three more, and each of those is attached to six more, and then twelve, and then forty, so that, no matter how hard you try, you cannot untangle a narrative thread from the intermingling of your lives. It stymies everything you've ever learned about writing - which is no mean feat, and probably a good thing, to boot.

S was at the party. In fifth grade, his British mother packed Smarties in his lunch every day and we would take turns begging for them. Two decades later, I ran into his mother on the cancer ward of the hospital. One decade earlier, S asked H to prom. He tried to slow dance with her and she edged away. T didn't go to prom, but she was Lucy in our sixth grade musical, the one in which S was good Snoopy and H was evil Snoopy and I was a morbidly officious psychiatrist. R is T's little sister; she went to school with my brother but took ballet with me and with H. T's mother taught preschool across from our fourth grade class. H's mother was best friends with V, I's mother, who went for walks with my mother, who had an office down the hall from H's father. And on, and on.

I miss this. I want this. And I don't want not to want this. There's something precious in a life that's less story than palimpsest, a life that cannot be made sense of through narrative because it's not yours; it belongs to your neighbor and his friend and her enemy. It's not a thread but a knot; it's not a knot but a wide, warm blanket. I don't live here anymore. So few of us live here anymore.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Howard's End


If you spend enough of your life reading, you eventually experience fictional deja vu. Not run-of-the-mill deja vu, in which you cannot escape the nagging feeling that you have met that chihuahua before, or you run smack into a row of row houses and know it's not the first time those tidy little gardens have clawed their way up your optical nerves and into your brain. Rather, fictional deja vu is when you find yourself suddenly living something you've read.

This happens to me more than I am 100% comfortable with, and it's worse if I travel to a location much documented in prose. When I lived in NYC for a summer, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was wandering from novel to novel, jumping on the train in Duplicate Keys and emerging, blinking, into the half-light of the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. This despite the fact that there is no subway line connecting the Upper West Side with the Upper East Side, and not much literary territory shared by Jane Smiley and E. L. Konigsburg.

London was bad, too. The American West was only intermittently percpeptible, emerging periodically from behind its scrim of story like the moon from a fat, dark cloud. Usually, in southern Indiana, I do OK.

Until Friday, when something I'd read a long time ago stirred in my skull, then rocketed out of me, teeth snapping, as startling and single-minded as that parasite in Alien. I've never had so much sympathy for Sigourney Weaver. Mostly because she doesn't look like she needs sympathy, being so generally buff and gunslinging.

I was teaching a music lesson. My student was eighty-three years old, impatient with her fingers. At the end of the session, worn out, she sat back in the semi-comfortable chair I'd dragged out from the dining room and told me about going to see her eagle nesting.

It was her eagle because the land was hers; she'd donated it to the land trust years ago, adding acres across the decades. Her husband had been dead for thirty years. She'd built the viewing platform, made sure there was a boardwalk across the wetlands. She described how the male eagle sat on the nest, how his beak was thicker than the female's beak. The female ranged through the trees and across the low area of the swamp. You turned off of US 37 on Bottom Road, then you took the gravel turning 6 miles down. The viewing platform was only a quarter of a mile from the road.

She repeated this: The viewing platform was only a quarter of a mile from the road. It was beautiful, she said, this time of year. With the beginnings of the flowers, the sun on the swamp. The water -someone had shown her a thimble- teemed with tiny lives and the eagles were nesting. It was only a quarter of a mile from the road.

I said, I'll have to go there sometime

It's wonderful, she said. This time of year. A day like today.

It sounds glorious.

Do you want me to take you?

She was looking out the window to where the first of the daffodils were coming up. It was 3:00 on a Friday; she was past due to struggle up from her chair, make her careful way to the door. I was past due to hop in my car and drive it out to the east side for an oil changed. I'd stop at the bank while my car was in the shop, cash a few checks. I was worried about the time, getting the car back home in time for a run.

I have to get my oil changed, I said. I have an appointment.

Of course.

She slipped her instrument, with thickened fingers, back into its case. We scheduled our next lesson and I walked her to the door. She smiled. It was a half-smile, a third of a smile; some fraction of her was somewhere else. It took me a long time -after I'd signed the work order and scrawled my name across the back face of the check, after I'd sat for a while in the sun breathing in the smell of new tire and wet earth- to regret.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Taxing

I've done my taxes.

I think I was in seventh grade when I discovered that if you do a thing early, you get the double bonus of 1) dispersing the black cloud of deadline and 2) feeling like a productivity badass.

If there is such a thing as a productivity badass; it is possible that productivity -buzzing around getting things done, busy-bee style- actually precludes badasshood.

As does, quite probably, the use of the word "precludes."

But never mind. I tend to work ahead of deadline. Over the years, this has had myriad consequences, some positive (sleepy, novel-soaked reading periods & finals weeks) and some negative (completing an entire social psychology group project paper only to have some stats punk rerun the data and come up with something different. THANKS MATT. Yes, I still remember you.)

So I made plans to do my taxes on March 31st, and ended up doing them on March 15th. The gates of hell did not open. But neither did the houris of paradise sidle up and offer to clean my bathroom (WHERE ARE MY BATHROOM-CLEANING HOURIS?!). Instead, my due has arrived in the form of a series of gentle, widely spaced reflections on taxes in general and my taxes in particular.
  • I hold tax-paying to be generally good; it funds libraries, and schools, and other nice things. However, I was a lot fonder of paying my taxes when I did not owe $3,000 to the IRS.
  • I still cannot fathom how it is possible to owe $3,000 to the IRS. How did this happen? Did I fail to light a candle in front of a small shrine of taxation located in the northwest corner of my most southeasterly room, that candle being of middling height as measured by the International Code of Candles (wax depreciation rates as of 2010) published yearly in Timbuktu by three blind monks who beat, into sheets of brass, the document in braille, thereafter immersing themselves and a small, green-hatted woodchuck in a vat of balsamic vinegar? (Candle width at individual discretion).
  • The above was complicated. The tax code is more complicated.
  • I work for a school and am payed with tax dollars. Does this mean that when I pay taxes, I am paying myself? Because that would make me feel better.
  • Filling out forms is soothing. I like filling out forms. The requirements are clear; you have only to satisfy them.
  • I wish life were more like filling out forms.
  • I also wish that I did not owe $3,000 to the IRS.
  • If you are self-employed, there is something you should know about called quarterly estimated taxes.
  • I am not a badass.
  • Dagnabit.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sliding

So this past weekend I payed a not insubstantial sum of money to hop a direct flight through sunny skies in place of a flight connecting through La Guardia (aka Timbuktu) in the middle of a giant Nor'easter.

Part of me thinks this is the top of the slippery slope: my fears are beginning to twist, like a wet washcloth, my actions, and my world will be forever warped. I probably spent 1.5 days of work on the escapade, if time is money -which, by our strange calculus, it mostly is. 1.5 days isn't a week, but when you work only 90 days a year, it's not inconsequential.

The rest of me thinks: Nor'easters are for suckers.

Friday, March 12, 2010

I Am Here

Shell Point Retirement Community, Ft. Myers, FL

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

#1: The Thirteen Clocks

I have to confess that my reading project has not gotten off to a rip-roaring start. It's March, and I've read one (count 'em, 1) book you love, and it was the shortest of the bunch. I've also read 8 or 9 books that are not books you love -though you might love some of them if you had the chance. Bad me! It's been a procrastinatory kind of year.

But I did get around to reading Jame's Thurber's short illustrated novel The Thirteen Clocks. I read it in one sitting, sick in bed, gobbling it up like the cupcake my stomach couldn't, at the time, stomach. The plot is simple: Once Upon a Time Thurber, a mid-century cartoonist, penned the playful parable of a princess, a prince, and the evil Duke who thought he could slay time.

The Duke's hands were always cold, necessitating the wearing of jewel-encrusted gloves. He lived in a shadowy castle with a dungeon, henchmen, and a beautiful princess. All thirteen clocks in the castle had stopped, and the Duke insisted that he had killed time, that the hours and minutes and seconds had trickled out like blood, staining the folds of his doublet. Thenceforth, everything in the castle stayed strictly status quo.

The Duke reminds me of me.

He gets his comeuppance, of course, as I daily receive mine in the form of that most fearsome and odious of monsters, change. Along the way there is wordplay, fable, love, mystery, and a whole lot of alliteration.

I can see why my friend S loves this book. She's probably loved it since she was a child, though in truth The Thirteen Clocks a wolf in sheep's clothing, an adult novel disguised as a children's book. It dawned on me halfway through that I'd actually read it before, sometime during my preteen years, and hated it. There were too many monsters, and too much darkness, and too much of a kind of archness I did not, as a child, have patience for. In short, it scared the wee out of me.

A couple of decades later, it still does.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

On the Wall; Off the Wall

I'm seated at a mass-manufactured writing desk in room 247 of a somewhat run-down Holiday Inn, which means that I can look up and meet my own eyes.

Whose idea was it to populate hotel rooms with mirrors? The one above the desk is gilt-framed and overlarge, positioned so that, without volition, you observe yourself making coffee, perusing the channel guide, tapping out god-knows-what on your laptop.

There's another, full-length mirror on the wall across from the toilet, surprising you into watching yourself do the things things you ought not to let anyone watch you do. And of course there's a mirror over the sink across from the bathtub, only it's less a mirror and more a wall-sized, silver screenshot of your showering self.

I find this mildly disconcerting. There are two mirrors in my house, three if you count the hand mirror I use to make sure nothing is stuck to my rear end (c.f. the Scooby-Doo sticker debacle of 2007). There's the obligatory small, square mirror over the sink in the bathroom, used to fine-tune toothbrushing, and there's the full-length mirror in the music room used to inspect posture, etc. The bedroom, living room, dining room, kitchen, and spare room are blessedly reflection-free.

Does anyone else find mirrors troubling? It's not that I hate the way I look. At 29, I've made peace with the fact that I look like...well, what I look like. And it's not that I don't think mirrors have their place: I grew up dancing, meaning I grew up struggling day after day to force my mirror-self to frappe, plie, leap.

Rather, I think my life is sufficiently examined. I can't remember where I first ran across the following truism, but I've loved it ever since: The unexamined life is not worth living, but the over-examined life is a pain in the ass.

Amen! Do we really need any more encouragement toward self-consciousness? Surely there are some moments in life -coffee making, writing, toileting- during which you should be able to stop reflecting on yourself and just be?

I'm frowning in concentration as I write this; also I appear to be biting my lip. Who ya lookin at, punk?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

I Am Here


Joplin, MO

Friday, March 5, 2010

So Far @ MCI

Fat setting sun
Monk devouring cheesesteak
Three cowboy-hatted, cowboy-booted (silent) men walking in a line
Bad sandwiches
Smart cars

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Spring!

Well, not quite. But the snow is retreating, millimeter by millimeter, and in its wake, survivors of a white and terrible tide, lie two ballpoint pens, three cigarette butts, a shovel, two bubble wands, a Marsh Fresh Idea card, a silver flour canister, half of an SUV's bumper, a tripod grill, and the kind of HP card that documents the particulars of the overpriced printer ink to which you are evermore in thrall.

Oh, spring.

Spring is for wanting. Sometime in March you begin, provided you are not a Buddhist, to experience the resurgence of desire. I don't mean those everyday wants: more sleep, a chalupa, a printer that is not a vampiric ink-sucking desktop devil-child.

I mean the kind of wholehearted yearnings that overtake you, almost overturn you, a bone-deep coveting the shape of which you've only just realized has gone missing from your flesh.

Maybe you want love. Maybe you want children. These are not outlandish desires. You see a couple picking their way hand in hand across the last encrustations of ice, a fat toddler busy in the newly exposed dirt. Your stomach knots. Your throat closes, then slowly, like a crocus, unfists.

Me, I want old women and cats. On my afternoon constitutional (I love this word, which smacks of colonels and canes), I spotted two of the former and three of the latter.

The old women were moving slowly -the sidewalks are not quite clear- turning the corner from a side street onto a busier one, chatting desultorily. I've seen them before; they walk regularly in my neighborhood, always the same route, or nearly. They always smile and say hi.

I've seen the cats before too; I am a great chronicler of cats. This is so I can ambush various of them near their homes and crouch down, holding out my hand and chirping like an idiot in the hopes that the braver ones will let me scratch their bellies. I get cat hair on my mittens and a sloppy, shameful grin on my face. Oh, cats.

I've seen them before, but I didn't want them -gut-deep, headlong- until spring. I want a cat in the window beside me. I want an old woman to walk with me when I'm an old woman, too.