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There has been a subtle change to the American male profile in the past twenty years. The bulge in the back pocket is gone. The slab of leather contoured to his ass and worn to a shine is gone. When sitting, he doesn’t lean forward to pull it from his back pocket to shed bills for his children.
You can’t sit on your wallet. If you do, your ATM card will not work. Those magnetic stripes on your credit cards become useless.
Over time, men have adjusted. That once familiar reach for the left rear pocket has quietly gone away.
Something in the kitchen is trying to get my attention. Pop. Pop. It started at ten-second intervals, and then became more urgent. It got sloppy, changing to a Plop…Plop. Plop is trying to tell me that I didn’t completely turn off the water again. It may be time to pull the handle and reverse the washer to re-assert the seal there. I’ve been thinking about this for nearly a month now. But when I do, I remember the landlord telling me they would rather fix things than have me fix them. In case there is a problem with the repair…Plop….
Seven minutes left to go,
And I’m going to take it
Just for that.
There is nothing like
Standing in a labor camp
For forty years and then
Somebody finding the clerical mistake
That releases you
Raw into this world.
The labor camp
Made certain assumptions
Two minutes left to go
No time for a fancy re-write.
I was walking this morning
Through the field, hip deep in flowers
Coming to your cabin
I was going to say something about
About how excited I was to see you
But the sun was so warm
My son’s state income tax refund has not shown up yet and it occurs to me that I should check its status to ensure that it has not been waylaid somewhere. It may be huddled in the baggage car on the tracks in some desolate forest where the tax highwaymen are hard at work. They got up early, had heavy breakfasts of eggs, biscuits and bacon. Now they have their silver pistols pulled, red bandannas pulled up over their noses, breath blowing back in their eyes. The horses snort, ears flicking back, as the train waits patiently at the siding.
Sometimes we don’t know who we are. Sometimes we do. It is our nature to wake up every morning a different person, sometimes aware of it and sometimes not. Our direction is subject to the flick of a razor, a gust of wind, a sticking door. Our attitude and the decisions we make are influenced by an accumulation of haphazard events and chemistry. And we don’t even stop to ask ourselves, “Is this a day I know who I am?” Maybe it is better that we don’t. I have seen people get stuck for a long time on that question.
My delivery came today. I had to go down the stairs when the UPS man buzzed at the door. My end of the buzzer doesn’t work. I signed as we both shuffled. I live on the third floor and we were looking at fifty-five pounds of tube amplifier. He picked it up. “You got it from here?” he asked. “Yeah,” I said taking it from him. “I didn’t know they still made audio equipment this heavy,” he said. “It’s American-made,” I said, hauling it up the stairs. “Cool,” he said, happy to not have to carry it up the stairs.
I was thinking it was going to be a long Saturday, but it will in fact be a short one. I will not be able to cram the things I wanted to do today into it. A Saturday is a thing only so large and there are only so many things one can put into it. You must choose wisely, as wisely as you are able, and the choosing itself is one of the things that takes space out of your Saturday. You may elect to eliminate the choosing, particularly if your track record of choosing has not been good.
I’ve been changing my passwords, something that is part of regular good computer hygiene. There are problems though. There are so many of them. Currently I have 77 different passwords. These are the ones I have written down (not good computer hygiene). Then every site has different requirements for passwords so that no one password works for everyone. And figuring out how to change a password for one site alone can sometimes be a challenge. Finally, there is the good old – I changed my password and the new one doesn’t work. That is what happened to 100 Words of course.
I have streaks in my windows. I don’t know that I am going to bother to clean them. I’m going to be leaving here in three weeks, and it doesn’t seem to be a good use of my time to be washing windows in this place. I realize that for some people this would be unthinkable. They would be unable to leave a place without washing the windows, scrubbing the walls, and shampooing the carpets. I don’t think the windows will be washed at the place where I am moving to though. I’m not completely sure what I will find.
I was called to visit my older son in the ER day before yesterday. I stayed to take him home. He had passed out at work and was throwing up. The doctors couldn’t find anything wrong, said “virus” and sent him home for fluids and rest. I called him this morning to see how he was doing and whether he was feeling well enough to go fetch his car. He was at work. No, he wasn’t feeling that well. “Didn’t my sons learn anything watching their father nearly work himself to death?” I asked. “Isn’t that the point?” He asked.
The sun is shining through the folds of a red umbrella hanging from the latch of the door wall. At some point in the night the ice on the ponds rained out and the wind re-surfaced them with an argument of ripples. The geese are landing now, flaps down, in serious air-traffic-control patterns, one after the other. This not the lonely lost honker landing on the ice two weeks early. An entire oak leaf flops by the window, embarrassed to have been caught sleeping so late. The umbrella swings slowly on the door. The sun fades momentarily. Rose petal red.
I am waiting for the UPS delivery. I don’t like waiting for UPS deliveries. It seems like a waste of life to organize your entire day around a delivery that may not come, around a delivery that you may even no longer care whether you receive or not. But if you do not wait, they punish you. They leave the note on the window and you have to wait another day or worse, you have to drive twenty miles down a dirt road following bad MapQuest directions to an office to pick up the thing you wish you hadn’t ordered.
I arranged to meet my son and his girlfriend at the Coney. I left late, knowing they would be late. As I got to the parking lot, my cell phone rang. They were just leaving the house and would be late. I waited outside. I had already eaten breakfast, but ordered eggs and toast with my coffee. They were talking about their new jobs in the energy drink bottling plant, about all the accidents and spills. They said everyone in the plant looked unusually young. I wondered aloud if there was some ingredient in red dye #2 responsible for this.
I find myself thinking about running as a metaphor for life in a way that I know probably does not work. If you run even when you cannot run and you run hard enough you can often push through to a point where something happens. You get your second wind. The endorphins kick in. Or your find your pace. So you keep getting up in the morning. You keep moving. You keep smiling. You keep dancing even though you know in the back of your head that sometimes when you run when you cannot run all you do is puke.
Instead of a human, I could be a state. I could be Kansas, Ohio or Minnesota. I would have a flag, a flower, and a governor. I wouldn’t have feelings. I would have farms, land rushes, uranium mines, springs, forests, strip mines, cities, freeways, whore houses, and restaurant chains. I would be surveyed and fought over. I would be missed and cursed. My resources would be catalogued and squandered. I would have history and a battleship named after me. I would have citizens and pure souls ready to die for my honor. I would sleep blissfully through the whole mess.
My electric bill was high again this month. It had gone down, but not nearly as much as the gas bill with the warming temperatures, and I knew why. I was pretty sure I knew why. I looked over in the corner at my “winter amplifier,” the Rogue Cronus Magnum, a technology of an earlier time, of glass vacuum tubes and heavy iron transformers. It is an audio amplifier, but it is also an electric space heater. It is about 30% efficient and the waste is all heat. So, in the winter, I excuse myself. I am heating the apartment.
I bought one of those automatic shower cleaners. I was sucked in not by advertising buy by clean-freaks who said they were necessities. These were people I thought who would never buy a partial solution like an automatic shower cleaner. That is something for someone like me…a bachelor who, well you know, cleans his shower sometimes. I had a hard time finding one. They were sold out constantly. It took me a couple weeks to find one. Now I have one. People ask me if it works. Well, It sort of works. I think it works. The shower seems cleaner.
Billy is sitting on the landing to the fourth floor in the house with twenty rooms. He believes the house has twenty rooms. He believes he has counted them before. He is willing to consider the idea that not all the rooms are in the same place at the same time. He is aware that even a single room may be more than one room given that it is not the same room entered one day as it is the next. Still, he is hanging onto the count of twenty. The number is important. It is key to this house.
The automatic shower cleaner has an interesting bonus. It is a unique conversation piece. Now when people ask, “What’s new?” I don’t have to say, “Oh, the usual,” and slide away hoping they don’t ask anything anymore complex or too personal. I step right up and say, “I bought an automatic shower cleaner.” And I always get a response. Some kind of response. It is amazing. I say I bought a house and they go, “Oh, congratulations,” and that’s the end of the conversation. But the shower cleaner is different. People perk up and want to know what it’s about.
I actually thought about going fishing yesterday. I was even thinking of the place to go, a quiet place down on one of the many lakes near here. I’ve got fishing stuff, and I suppose I could get a license, although that was one drawback, but the big thing was the hat. I’ve got lots of hats, but I haven’t got a fishing hat. And when I started thinking about what kind of hat I needed for a fishing hat, I just got lost. I had a momentary vision of myself at Dicks asking about hats. I couldn’t do it.
I wonder if a 100-word entry must have unity. Of course not. There are no requirements for a 100-word entry other than it be 100 words long. You don’t even have to have complete sentences. It doesn’t have to make sense. It doesn’t have to be unique or original. What you do have to do is to please yourself, and sometimes that is the most difficult thing of all. This is where all the rules come in and if you live with a concept of writing that requires unity, then you are stuck with writing 100-word entries that preserve unity.
“I wasn’t able to do 100 words this month. The month got out of control before it began, and then got worse.”
“I am having trouble doing 100 words this month myself, which is odd because you don't have to do any ting but write 100 words. They do not require unity, meaning, spelling, or originality; only that there be 100 of them. You posted several hundred already this morning. Go ahead. Cut and paste.”
“Hell, yes. I’ll do that. What fun that will be.”
“Part of the learning here I think is to accept the reality of the word.”
sometimes to make a deadline you don't do
whatever that is defined as at the time
but.. i have problems with that.. you know..
buddha in the road - that would be me
when all you have been asked to do is write 100 words
what a lesson
is there in this
baby steps begin and it is done
what could be dumped wholesale into the hopper
unto the sight!
chaos you say
ok. off i go to do..
off i go to cut and paste
One of my credit cards has been used to fund someone’s gaming account. I don’t do on-line gaming. This card is slow to report purchases, and their dispute process requires me to mail them a written notice, so I call to cancel the card. The agent listens to my story and offers to cancel the card, enter a dispute, and send me a card with a new number. Seems ok, and I agree. Afterwards, in quiet time, I remember lending my card to someone to pay for a gaming subscription a while back. Caught in the auto-renewal cycle I suppose.
The rain was pounding as I drove through the small town. It was 2 AM dark, and the rain was blinding. It was like being in a car wash with water covering the street and any visible lane markings. I judged by the buildings that I was at a large intersection, but the light was out. I stopped anyway, the headlights not doing much good. In their light I saw movement on the road, what appeared to be thousands of frogs of all sizes, shapes and colors crossing the intersection. I couldn’t move the car without killing hundreds of them.
I have a closing today. I wasn’t sure, because I had not heard anything for several days, so I sent the Broker’s Administrative Assistant an email. I got one back shortly after and a phone call from her as I was reading it. Yes, I had a closing at one o’clock. Did I have any questions? I did have questions. Where is the closing? Did the insurance agent come through? What was the quote? Why are they insuring me for four hundred thousand dollars? Is the seller coming? Do I need to bring anything? “Hasn’t anyone called you?” she asked.
I bought the house yesterday. I signed papers, lots of papers. People think I should be excited, but buying a house is much like buying a new car. You pick it out, maybe get to drive it, but when the paper work and handshakes are done, they take it away from you. What? “We have some prep work to do on it. We’ll have it for you by Thursday or uh…Saturday.” Did you or did you not have a car for sale? Well the house is not so different I suppose. My occupancy date was April 10, now April 12.
I sat leaning forward in the car watching the frog horde move intently across the intersection. How long would this last? The rain hammered the car, the dead stoplight swinging madly. Suddenly there was a rushing as if air were being sucked out of my car. The rain stopped. All I could hear was the gurgle of water running down the street. Looking up, I saw the frogs were gone, but there was some small bright thing rolling in a spiral in the intersection. Getting out of the car, I walked over to it, picking up a small gold tiara.
I saw Maria Muldaur in concert last night and while everyone was asking her at intermission if she was going to do “Midnight at the Oasis” (no), I wanted to know about Geoff. I had been listening to a young musician named Geoff Muldaur long before I knew about Maria, and I knew there had to be some kind of connection. Marriage? Brother and sister? I didn’t ask her but I did do some Googling this morning. I was able to piece together that yes they were married at some time for a while. Just as well I didn’t ask.
They said he was an enchanted boy. He could hear them whispering about him in church. He could hear his parents talking about him at night through the wall. He was special. He had destiny. People looked at him when he was out, moving to brush against him as they walked by. They wanted to touch him. They took his small pieces of his clothing. One woman snapped a hair from his head. He began to spend more time alone, in the fields and cemeteries, but they found him as he grew older, a crowd following him, always getting closer.
He wondered why the couple was arguing in German. “Es unterscheidet kein,” she said turning away. He had never heard them speak anything but English before. To his right a young boy looked up at him, “Vocę vende jogos?” “Of course,” he said, looking around. Things seemed to be normal otherwise. Evan must be playing some kind of weird joke on him. A man hung over the counter waving a disk at him, “Se dańa este DVD.” As he reached for it, a woman with large green eyes stepped before him, touching his arm, nodding slowly and saying “Je t'aime.”
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