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BY Michael

12/01 Direct Link
Itís a cloudy, rainy grey day here. If it keeps up, it will rain the snow out. As I type, Iím eating what I thought was a beet when I bought it, but it is clearly a turnip. I donít know what I was thinking. True, I had a moment of confusion as I bought it, but I grew up with beets and turnips. We grew them in the garden. Good thing I like turnips. Itís been years since I have eaten one, but I frequently remember the taste. A crunchy yummy little thing, itís like eating a raw potato.
12/02 Direct Link
December 2 is a day for wind.

She is dressed for the day.
She has chosen the winter bite.
The masked glove adheres to everything.
Flags on Grand River slip through her fingers.
She bows store front windows
And with a smile,
Teases the bellies of passing cars,
Bouncing them playfully.

She lies along the ground,
Rises in the air
Turning her own hands and arms,
Wondering at her power.

Her hand conforms,
Spreading, covering the earth,
Palm scraping in the cold snow
(Does she soil her glove?).
Fingers growing soft, molten,
Surrounding with such force,
Bending down the trees.
12/03 Direct Link
December 3 is a day for uncertain snow.

It is snowing.
Is it snowing?
It is snowing,
Tentatively.

These flakes are young ones,
Unsure of their place,
Mission,
And position.

A few bold ones empty out the sky.
The others wait to see what becomes
Of the first.
A few more join them.
Some of the first have not even touched down.

Oh look,
Four have changed their mind,
Now spiraling back upward.
But others are coming behind them now.
And more.
And they pause, circle,
Touch one another for reassurance.
Some blinking out suddenly;
Others appearing in their place.
12/04 Direct Link
December 4 was an evening. It was an evening for a star in the sky. As I walked out onto my deck into the blue pool of night, I heard the snow crunching beneath my muck boots. I could feel my breath coming back cold and damp in my face. Leaning against the rail, I looked up and saw single star in a sky that could have been made of a gray-blue construction paper. The moon, somewhere over my right shoulder, was casting shadows on the snow. I couldnít see the moon though, just the light, and the one star.
12/05 Direct Link
December 5 was a day for bicycle tracks in the snow. I saw them when I was walking home, the two interweaving tracks, the print of mountain bike tires. Some boy perhaps, unsteady on the icy sidewalk, front wheel back and forth, on his way to a friendís house. He wore a scarf around his neck that was coming undone. His blue jacket was unzipped, hood flopped back, and his round face was pink already from the cold. At one point his left boot slipped off the pedal and he panicked, but regained control in time to make the corner.
12/06 Direct Link
December 6 is for ennui. I think thatís what it is. Save me! I feel sick. I canít do this. My sisterís sonís seeing-eye dog ate my assignment. There is no light outside, just a purple grey blue winter sky and snow. The toes of my socks are wet from stepping in puddles left by my boots. I took them off. I know I did. What are these puddles of water doing in the floor? Why are my toes cold? I feel sick. I canít do this. I havenít the courage. Sometimes, we have to suffer for a hundred words.
12/07 Direct Link
December 7 is a day of steam. It is a brutal day of slick steamy ice. The steam rolls from the sewer grates, obscuring intersections. It rises from the laundry vents, turning silver and falling as snow before crossing the roof line. It is the vapor pouring out your nose and freezing your mustache and beard. It freezes and falls in one-foot chunks from car exhausts as they slide down Main Street. It billows from the car wash, freezing the poor girl with the towel standing at the exit, her hand raised clutching a dollar bill, now just a Popsicle.
12/08 Direct Link
December 8 is a day of the plate of ice over the pond. It is thick enough to walk on now, although the hockey players havenít been out yet. It floats there, held somehow just above the water like a flying island barking and cutting the shins of the banks. It is flat, lightly snow-covered, undiscovered and therefore undisturbed ice. There have been no freaky thaws and winds to ripple and roughen the surface. Pristine except for a single set of tiny mouse tracks rushing out ten feet from the south end, circling twice, and returning from where they came.
12/09 Direct Link
It is raining now, splatter in the cold steel muck outside. I have hung up Christmas lights. I need to water my plants. At least I donít have to water a tree. I am letting myself become apartment-bound again. I am not completely sure on this. I may need to engineer some more social activities. Maybe some wild-ass shopping and gifting is indicated. I could bake bread, make candles, or knit sweaters. I could visit the humane society and give everyone I know kittens for Christmas. As an act, that would give me more intellectual satisfaction than the crafty stuff.
12/10 Direct Link
I get up for a bagel. I must be hungry. I am not conscious of being hungry, but this bagel is my lunch. The heat comes on. Life repeats itself in little circles beat by raindrops into the puddles on the balcony table. I am reflected there. We are all reflected there and we are all visible from space. All our minds are evolutionary steps in one or more directions, small steps. Most of these steps are mistakes. Nature is wasteful in her experiments. Our job is to survive as best we can with the mutations we have been given.
12/11 Direct Link
I wake up slow rolling in fine.
Itís turning cold and Iím crossing my toes
The walls maybe ice, but theyíre not stone.
Iím just all wet. Iím just all alone,
Living the live of an outlaw in the land of I Dunno.

And Iím wondering what you do
Up there in your toodeele doo
You said Iíve give you anyting
And thatís broke my spine
All I say is I dunno
All you say is thatís fine.

I could go to that other place
Crowds and clowns.
I wouldnít have to put up
With the smell of this town
12/12 Direct Link
It is the vision you see, the spy in your cry.
Itís something from Oprah. You see and believe.
Itís the jewel in your eye and the cotton in your mouth.
Itís the arch in your back as you dangle starry from a tree.
Itís the sparkle in the crook you thought you could be.

Iím leaning out the window my eyes clotted
With the wind and the snow
Iíve been reading and esplaining the places I should go
But Iíve been deceived and doped
Poisoned, buggered and chained
Hanging dirty and ragged
In the tower of I Dunno .
12/13 Direct Link
I'm sitting here in my robe, watching the swatches of snow outside, trying to decide how to divide and use the hour left to me. I start work at 1, but I need to shower, dress, and eat first, so I really have only one hour. Listening to Erik Satie. Thinking about the apartment. There is too much stuff here. How did I get so much stuff? Did I bring this much stuff with me from the house? As I look around, I see a combination of things from my old life and things acquired. I have been busy acquiring.
12/14 Direct Link
I have not been writing as much as I usually do, which averages about two thousand words a day. Iíve been working on something else instead. Iím not sure what it is, but Iíve been working very hard on it. However, but The Crone visited late this morning and insisted that I write a lot today. I had scheduled the day out already, and while I had included some writing time, it was not what I would consider a ďlot.Ē Looking at my schedule, I see I can still do much of what I wanted and make the crone happy.
12/15 Direct Link
It snowed last night and has been snowing much of today. We have about two feet of heavy snow piled up outside at this point. And that is without much drifting. I went out to Big Apple Bagel for my breakfast, but I donít think Iíll be going out much more today. I have plenty to do to keep me busy here, and my ďoutsideĒ social schedule is never all that much. I donít know. That stuff is relative, I suppose. I have two things scheduled Monday, and Iím double-booked Wednesday. Iíve got to call and re-schedule my guitar lesson.
12/16 Direct Link
I called to re-schedule the lesson, and they offered to give me a credit for it and let it go. Iíd like to make the Christmas trip to Ohio Thursday, and that would fill up the rest of the week. Iím not sure whether I actually work Christmas day, so I might find myself making another trip. Maybe I should try to call and get a reading on whether I am working Christmas day. Maybe Iíll wait to make my trip. There has to be another day I can squeeze it in between now and the end of the year.
12/17 Direct Link
Last night I made a new candle, but forgot to oil the mold before I poured the wax. Of course the candle would not come out. I tried the microwave, thinking to liquefy the wax near the sides of the mold but it wouldnít work. So, I threw the thing into the freezer. This morning I retrieved the candle, reasoning that while the candle and the mold would both shrink, that the quarter-inch walls of the mold would actually shrink away from the candle, which would be getting smaller at the same time. Anyway, the frozen candle popped right out.
12/18 Direct Link
I was thinking earlier that I would go to bed tonight again. It is a concept I wrestle nightly. I have lived alone for several years now, and I still havenít gotten the hang of going to bed by myself. Maybe I am still struggling with the concept of living by myself. We are alone by definition, solitary creatures locked in solitary minds. I think that is true, at least, most of the time. I know it is not always completely true. I have been to places and I have seen things. Parts of us are permeable. Parts are portable.
12/19 Direct Link
My earliest memories of Christmas are confused. My sister Vicky, had died four and one-half months after I was born. I am told she was buried on Christmas Eve. She was about three at the time. We did not have Christmas at our house after that for a while. We were in the car, on the way to visit someone Christmas morning. I asked from the back why Santa never came to our house. My father pulled the car off the road, sat for a moment, and then went and bought a tree and took us back home for Christmas.
12/20 Direct Link
I do laundry this morning. There is a new skiff of snow on the ground and I have to walk tight-legged across the side of a slippery hill to get to the laundry. A man gets out of a van with a medium-sized canvas bag, and lets me in the door. My first thought is that he has driven over to do laundry, but his bag is too small. Seeing the shapes bulging from the bag, I realize he is here to feed the change machine. Iím thinking to tell him his damn change machine wonít take the new bills.
12/21 Direct Link
I can hear them upstairs. I can hear the people above me. This is a problem. I live on the top floor and there is no apartment above me. I have climbed a ladder and shoved my head through the access panel. There is nothing up there but darkness, attic, cold, and insulation. But I can hear the radio. I can hear the foot falls. There are two of them. One walks with heavy feet: The Giant. The giant goes ďKlump klump klump.Ē The other is lighter. Quicker. It goes ďPiddy paddy piddy paddy. I call that one The Mouse.
12/22 Direct Link
There is a pattern in the snow below. It looks like a devil with two sweeping horns. I cannot see his mouth, but I imagine he has one with a large leering sharp-tooth grin. I imagine his nose, flared, and the lines behind his mouth. No, I look at it again. I was wrong. It is a cow. I can see tufts of hair beneath the horns. It is one of those cartoon cows with a wreath of daisies around her head. No doubt she walks on two legs. Wait. I could be wrong. It might be a lobster claw.
12/23 Direct Link
The monster in the snow, the cow, the lobster claw has gone to sleep. Lines of definition have melted into the snow. The eyes are cloudy, downturned. Maybe it is crying, salty tears globbing down the hill, dissolving itself in that warm salty flow. I think it is sad, lying there, looking at the cloudy sky, at the stars, and blinking up into the rain and snow. It isnít sad though. It cries for the wonder of the tree limbs reaching across, for the slow movement in the sky, for the melting down its own cheek. It cries for beauty.
12/24 Direct Link
I am doing dishes at the sink when there is a knock at the door. Dropping the skillet I am washing into the suds, I dry my hands and go to the door. I open it. Cold air rushes in from the empty landing. There is no one there. I listen for steps on the stairs, for the close of the door below. But there is nothing. I must have been mistaken. Closing the door, I go back into the kitchen, already forgetting about the knocking. I drop a cup into the water. There is a knock at the door.
12/25 Direct Link
It is Christmas evening, and daughter Amanda came over to visit with her boyfriend, Ben. She stole some sculptures from the house for my Christmas present, sculptures that had father/children memories. One was a large stone turtle that would come alive and move around the house every night after the children went to bed. They would race downstairs in the morning to see where the turtle had gone in the night. The turtle seems to have crawled all the way to my apartment now. Some of his toes have broken off. It must have been a hard journey for him.
12/26 Direct Link
She stops, half way across the room, hand reaching up, fingers touching her face. She has forgotten what she came here for. She tries to think, but she is too tired to think. Folding her left hand beneath the arm touching her face, she closes her eyes, becoming smaller. She wants to cry. She hears voices from the kitchen. Her father-in-law is saying something to her brother-in-law. She looks at her bare feet on the carpet. It is the middle part of the house, the back bone. There are open windows on either side of her. The snow has started.
12/27 Direct Link
I am doing dishes at the sink when there is a knock at the door. Dropping the skillet I am washing into the suds, I dry my hands and go to the door. I open it. Cold air rushes in from the empty landing. There is no one there. I listen for steps on the stairs, for the close of the door below. But there is nothing. I must have been mistaken. Closing the door, I go back into the kitchen, already forgetting about the knocking. I drop a cup into the water. There is a knock at the door.
12/28 Direct Link
I hear the door close downstairs. Iím not going to go pick up my check. Iíve decided I have plenty of other things to do. And the thing hangs over me like a tight net, plasticized, conforming to and compressing my shape, the webbing leaving sharp prints on my skin. I look at it, at the prints. I am used to it. I am used to being driven home with freshly cut stakes, naked in the snow. I just donít feel it. Out the window, the Christmas lights are still up. The day is quiet. The flakes swirl and climb.
12/29 Direct Link
The snow hit while I slept. There had been severe winter storm warnings, and the usual dire predictions. In Michigan we have learned to ignore them, because they are wrong more often than not. When I went to sleep around 2 am, it was still clear out. But I woke to a world of white. The trees were pasted. Fifteen inches piled up on my deck rail and every piece of patio furniture. Even the spaces between the deck rails were clotted shut with the stuff. I opened the door to take a picture. Outside, there wasnít a single sound.
12/30 Direct Link
When she visited for Christmas, my daughter left me these two pieces of cactus. Cactus legs, they were three feet high and about three inches thick. Broken at the bottom. ďJust put them in dirt, and water them,Ē she explained. ďSome rocks to help prop them up,Ē explained Ben, the boyfriend. I nodded, laying them across the kitchen counter, feeling the dry little spines poking my hands. The next day I noticed the bottoms curling up, as if they didnít like their new life. I filled a coffee can full of water and propped them up against an old radio.
12/31 Direct Link
New Yearís Eve, people are asking what I am going to do for the New Year. I find myself telling them I am buying a house. I hear myself saying this.

Self, where did that come from? Where did you get the idea that you were going to do that? You have too many other things to do. You have important literary projects.

I donít know. It just popped out.

Well you can pop it right back in.

Well I was thinking.

Thinking? Thinking what?

Those new condos over where Tom works.

Condo? You want to live in a condo?