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BY Michael

01/01 Direct Link
When did Stranded become Abandoned? He is surprised at this realization. Somewhere in the flow of words from day to day, something changed. The change was subtle and he is not sure now who he is supposed to be, Stranded or Abandoned. Perhaps, he thinks he has become someone else? A pairing of the two? Strabandoned? Gargled? Strangled? Perhaps nothing has changed but his perception of things. Stranded seems more impersonal though. Abandoned seems to hint at an agent, at some person or persons who deliberately left him here. He considers his choices, trying the names on, unable to choose.
01/02 Direct Link
He looks at his hand again, thinking as he does that there are other directions he could look. As he does, he sees a figure through the hand. The figure is slumped on his couch. It is lumpy—misshapen. Wearing an old blue shirt and worn jeans, it has straw poking out the sleeves of the shirt in place of hands. Its head is made of burlap. It has large blue button eyes sewn on, a yellow swatch of felt for a nose, and an orange one for a mouth. He leans closer. It has a sign reading, “Diminished Capacity.”
01/03 Direct Link
I’m my son has mentioned several times that he wants to get a coffee table for their home. Every time he says it, my impulse is to give him mine. I have such impulses. Even my ex-wife says I would give people the shirt off my back, and literally have. It is not something I can explain. It is a peculiar bit of wiring in my brain, I suppose. So far I have resisted these impulses to give Tom my table. He has hardwood floors and I think its feet would scratch them. Of course I have a rug too…
01/04 Direct Link
The lights are out and the choir is practicing in the back of the cathedral, the wind choir. They need no light and they need no director, and unlike the regular choir they sing on key. Their voice finds the resonance of the chamber with ease and the notes play against the dome like children finding themselves suddenly capable of joyous flight, bouncing from rafter to rafter, leaping from pane to corner to vestibule. They sing the cold in the night and the wind pressing against the church. They sing of the wisps of clouds moving across the clear sky.
01/05 Direct Link
Gadgets manage to limp across the floor in the moonlight as nimble fingers fly across a boogie keyboard. Grabbing onto one another, they begin to bend and weave to the magic of the pulse in the fingers, dragging one another around, making circles in the dust. Outside, the street is empty and the wind is blowing. The music is subdued, sounding far away, picked up and moved about by the wind so that it now seems to come from the hardware store, now from the boarded-up church with the fading sign outside: Hospital for Sinners, Not a Haven For Saints.
01/06 Direct Link
The snow has raised a one-foot padding on the rail on my deck. Back in Ohio, my father sits sleeping in his large recliner, the dog in his lap, with “The Price is Right” on the TV in front of him. The volume is turned up, but it doesn’t disturb his sleep. My mother is in the kitchen at the sink, scowling as she savagely tears the skin from a naked half-frozen chicken. There isn’t as much snow there. You see spots of green in the snow, and it is brown under the sleeping white pines that sweep the sky.
01/07 Direct Link
My sweater is shrinking. I’ve been washing it and that is why. I know you are supposed to do something else with some sweaters. It isn’t one of my favorite sweaters. It is just one that seems to come to me out of the closet when I reach to put something on. I would guess I have had it for ten years and it refuses to get lost or wear out. So now when I put it on, I exercise, tugging on the arms and the waist, to stretch it out, to make it fit again until the next washing.
01/08 Direct Link
I’m working on my hundred words and I’ve come to a stop after completing two of them. Watching out the window, I see a clump of snow fall from a tree branch. The trees are all cloaked in snow today. I know all I would have to do for my next topic is to step out onto the balcony or into the street. It used to be easier than that even. When I lived with my children, my live was so full of things that there was always too much to write about. Now I have to make things up.
01/09 Direct Link
The heavy snow is starting to settle in the chairs out on the deck like an old couple sitting there, watching the traffic go by. Over the past day the two piles have lost half their bulk and soft lines have begun to droop and crack in random ways. They are quiet, contemplating the falling snow when there are no cars to distract them, old eyes catching single flakes as they fall, stall, change course, and drift off again. One of them leans and shifts position, eyes closing momentarily. The other continues to look ahead, but nods acknowledgement and approval.
01/10 Direct Link
I was discussing movie values with a friend the other day and we made some observations. While film values are not consistent, there are some general themes. Killing people often brings a couple together. It is ok to kill people if they are generally agreed to be bad, immoral, greedy, or have killed other people. An exception to this is the lead character in a movie who may kill innocent people if he or she shows appropriate remorse for it. It is always ok to kill zombies. It is not ok to kill or injure animals unless they are dinosaurs.
01/11 Direct Link
Sunday is for Lester Young. I’m not sure why. I like listening to Lester Young on Sunday’s. I don’t have any particular other designated artists for other days, but now that I think about it, it is not a bad idea. Mondays could be for Miles. Tuesdays I could save for the guitar guys, Ackerman, Sandy Bull, Hedges, and hell that list goes on forever. Wednesday would be for women, Joni Mitchell, Patricia Barber, Patti Smith, Billie Holliday, and yes that one goes on. On Friday’s we’ll do singer/songwriters, and Saturday I might just explore. But Sunday is for Lester.
01/12 Direct Link
Michael Junior called last night. It was difficult to understand what he wanted at first, but it boiled down to “Dad, can I move in?” My first thought was I always have room for my children. But I heard myself asking, “Is the puppy coming?” (Puppy isn’t housebroken.) “Yes.” “Would the girlfriend be coming?” “Yes.” My apartment isn’t that big. I needed some time to think and to get some information. I suggested we talk over lunch today. Then I called his mother. “What’s going on?” She used the words “Dog” and “Shit” 9 times in the next two sentences.
01/13 Direct Link
I met with Michael Jr. and his girlfriend Tai yesterday at the Coney where we had lunch around 3 p.m. They talked about the difficulties they were having staying at his mom’s house and repeated their request to move into my apartment with me. They acknowledged up front the apartment rule banning the consumption of weed within the apartment. I told them the new puppy couldn’t come. The puppy had been the last camel on the straw back at his mother’s as I understood. They agreed and said they would call that night to confirm arrival times. They never called.
01/14 Direct Link
Michael Junior may visit this afternoon. I called him last night to tell him that there were a few jobs on Craig’s list that might suit him. It is a tough time to be looking for work in Michigan, and both he and his girlfriend Tai are out of work, living with his mother who is unhappy about it. He had asked about staying with me, and we had sorted out terms, but I haven’t heard from him on that since. Something about moving from the 3,000 square-foot house in the burbs to the two-bedroom apartment must be stalling them.
01/15 Direct Link
Time has made it to twelve o’clock and though time is nothing but a concept, time will last longer than I will. I may have advantage over time because I am conscious, something for another discussion. Still, time as a concept has a beginning and an end, and time itself most likely has beginnings and ends too. It is in the participle that we become equal in extent. We both always will have been. We are always becoming. That participle of things that did or did not happen has equal weight. All participles are equal. They always will have existed.
01/16 Direct Link
I heard a Muslim woman on NPR talking about Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby. Now a professor in the United States, she said Gatsby’s vision to her was that the past was dead and that there was no future. She said that bringing the past into the present only killed the present. She was speaking also of her homeland of course. However, the interpretation of Gatsby’s view of life may apply to others. It is one that never occurred to me, that of the past poisoning the present. I suppose it depends on your past. Certainly if one could pick and chose.
01/17 Direct Link
I heard a Muslim woman on NPR talking about Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby. Now a professor in the United States, she said Gatsby’s vision to her was that the past was dead and that there was no future. She said that bringing the past into the present only killed the present. She was speaking also of her homeland of course. However, the interpretation of Gatsby’s view of life may apply to others. It is one that never occurred to me, that of the past poisoning the present. I suppose it depends on your past. Certainly if one could pick and chose.
01/18 Direct Link
It surprises me how often I can wash dishes in a day and still have dishes to wash. They follow me like children, popping out dirty just after I have cleaned up the last one. It is job I don’t mind, the washing of dishes or of children for that matter, the difference being that I find myself talking more when I am washing children, and getting wetter as well. Washing children is more interactive than washing dishes, and it is a more cheerful activity. Still, washing dishes has its place. It is useful, well-paced work that pleases the soul.
01/19 Direct Link
The butterflies are swarming, circling the end of the hall, but Nelson doesn’t notice them. They are still in shadow there, and most of them are a dark blue. These butterflies are drawn to the flicker of a candle burning in a lantern on Nelson’s deck. The lantern itself is half buried in a drift of snow, but the flame is still visible above the white ring. Uncertain, the nature of these beauties is to avoid this particular flame and the glass that shields it. There is another barrier of some sort in the space between them and the glass.
01/20 Direct Link
Now I type type type, a man in the shadows of an upstairs apartment seen as a small light in the distance across the small city in the dark and cold. You can zoom the camera up to the window and see him sitting there typing at his computer and wonder what he is typing, but you cannot tell. Maybe he is writing a letter to a friend. Maybe he is writing a complaint to the company who made the computer. You cannot tell. You lose interest and drift to another window where a man is playing a video game.
01/21 Direct Link
Henry’s hands were shaking as he broke the eggs for breakfast. As the pan warmed, he started a new candle mold, working quickly, almost hysterically. He broke off, putting the eggs in the pan, remembering a little girl for whom he once cooked eggs, and that memory signaled the opening of other doors from which memories, losses, and grief poured like molten multi-colored wax. Dropping the pan, he turned, pounding his face on the wall, whispering “Stop it! Stop it!” His brain quieted momentarily. He looked up, thinking he would have to remember to wash the blood off the wall.
01/22 Direct Link
He hadn’t thought he was hungry, but he inhaled the eggs like a starving man. Then he noticed the candle mold with the chunks of wax shoved in the top. He was becoming a compulsive candle maker. But then, perhaps he was a compulsive eater, albeit one who lost weight. He was a compulsive writer too? He knew he needed to slow things down. Some said the waves of grief were something he chose. Why would anyone choose that? Wasn’t it something that just did what it was going to do to you for as long as it did it?
01/23 Direct Link
It seemed odd to Johnnie Walker to find himself walking barefoot in the snow. After his trip to the outhouse, he had meant to go back to his bunk, but something about the morning had drawn him past the cabin into the woods. The air had warmed in the night, and there was a cautious dripping of melting snow from the trees. The scrape of the cool snow felt good cradling his feet, and the moist air felt good after the close air of the cabin. He paused near an old beech tree, soaking up the weight of the forest.
01/24 Direct Link
It has been January for a long time here in Michigan. The cold has seeped into everything, slowing even time so that we must stay in this month for a much longer time. We have forgotten what it is to look outside and not see snow. Everyone says the same things. “I’m cold, and I can’t get warm anymore.” “I like the winter, but I’m ready for spring now.” Yet the month moves on, slowly like traffic snarled in weather on the freeway. It will do what it’s going to do for as long as it’s going to do it.
01/25 Direct Link
It was 7:45 when you broke free of the traffic. You got an early start, but you were still going to be late to work. Ten minutes after eight, and you finally fought your way off the freeway, drifting down the side street past the food mission, and turning into the parking structure. Well, you really weren’t late. You could come and go as you wanted. Sort of. You beached your car in a snowdrift on the roof of the parking structure. You sat there, looking out over the city, thinking about what waited for you inside. It was 8:25.
01/26 Direct Link
The earliest philosophers and magicians had it right. Words have power. They can create. They can change things. They can destroy. They are the basic structure of what we think, of what we know. They control most of what we feel, of what is. And yes, if you know the true name of a person, that phrase that calls their true being, and you know how to speak it, then you own that person.

Yet swamped in this magnificent babble, we are unable to see its true nature. We are restless distracted children playing laser tag with awesome ancient weapons.
01/27 Direct Link
Governor Unpronounceable has decided to attend his impeachment trial. He is acting in an erratic manner. His strategy to go public is a questionable one, increasing the perception that his behavior was improper. He should have said what he is accused of is the way things are normally done and that he was being cynical, making sarcastic remarks meant to be humorous. He should have said he exercised poor judgment in assuming that the press would be sophisticated enough to understand his remarks, and should apologize for being cavalier about his position. It is probably too late for that now.
01/28 Direct Link
I run into Jeff outside the office. He is smoking, hunched against the cold. He starts talking the minute he sees me, introducing himself with a handshake. This is the fourth time Jeff has introduced himself to me. Today he is stalking the office because he wants to break his unbreakable lease. His head is spinning with too many things and the playlist is set for repeat. His recent divorce, his layoff, his son, his bewildering cycle of girlfriends, and so on. I’m thinking there must be something I could say that would help him. But I’d have to shout.
01/29 Direct Link
Now I start in on the hundred words, boring into the ice shelf, removing core samples to see what I can find here. I feel like a hundred people are looking over my shoulder as I remove a hundred cores stacking them on the ice, carefully labeling them to identify the exact location where they were retrieved. They are long core samples, a hundred meters each, and will have to be hauled back to the lab on long sleds where they will be stored until I can melt each one down and analyze its contents. It will be complicated work.
01/30 Direct Link
We had extracted two cores from the site when new orders came in to stop work. The job had just gotten more complicated. They now wanted 2,000 meter cores. There was no explanation for this. They would be flying in drilling equipment and more crew members. We were going to need more than a just couple drills. I hoped they realized that. I looked at my lovely 300-meter cores sliced, labeled, and bagged ready to go back to the work rooms. I decided to keep the cores we already had and told Yova to ship them back to the base.
01/31 Direct Link
I told the rest of the crew they had the day off. They gave me dubious looks. A day off out here isn’t always a good thing. I wanted to go back to the shack for some privacy and get on the satellite phone for some more information. For one thing, I hadn’t planned to be out here for three years. I was also wondering if the company completely understood the difference between 300 meters and 2,000 meters. At least the weather was holding. The sun was bright, too damn bright. But the wind left no doubt where you were.