REPORT A PROBLEM
I think I hear MJ and Ty at the door, as if they are going somewhere, but then the tenor of the sounds change and I realize they have turned the television on. In a while I will go make the final rent payment on my old apartment, putting me more firmly in this place that I am so unsure of. I think I would leave this place, but I have no vision of the future I would be going to. To leave a place, a person needs that, I think. They need a vision of where they are going.
It’s a quiet day as long as I don’t think about those things I am not supposed to think about. Were I to swerve into one of those corners I could suddenly sprout thousands of words, thickly covering the carpet, bursting out the windows, and flowing down over the hill like a poorly contained lake of ink. I know. I’ve done that before. It is not useful. It doesn’t propose or solve. It only mires your mind in useless and painful cycles. So I don’t go to those places just now. I will do them later, one at a time.
My daughter Amanda sends me a text message with a picture of a short squatty red automobile with too many headlights. “OMG, it’s beautiful, and it’s even for sale!” Her message reads. I text back, “OMG, what is it?” I wonder about the short squatty purple Cabriolet I bought her several years ago and whether it has ruined her for normal cars. I wonder if she will be trading it in on this red thing. Or will the Cabriolet becoming home to sit in the garage where I can soothe its troubled soul and protect it from her careless brother?
Request for Assistance.
Was the title
Of the next email in queue.
It caught my attention because
I have been considering a
Request for Assistance
Of my own.
Unsure where to send it.
I don’t know if I am asking for
Money, or medical supplies, or guns,
Is clearly bothering me,
And I don’t think it’s the fucking
Obama state of the economy.
Request for Assistance?
But into whose delicate ear?
Would I pour such a prayer?
When the answers come back so
I have a
Request for Assistance.
But your office is closed.
Terror has followed me most of my life,
and this year it has caught up with me on several occasions.
Maybe we were lovers in some previous life.
I'm seeing Terror and me as spoiled children
in some mythical garden
with nothing to do but tease,
and playfully stimulate one another.
And now the memory of those days
Of the tenor of sun-warmed skin
has become an idea
can do nothing but follow me
I suppose that any life,
is preferable to the alternative.
Still, I'm not sure I can last much longer
with this vital young bedpartner.
It has rained for three days. I run the air conditioner on these days to dry out the house which generally stays about six degrees warmer than the outside temperature at minimum. I attribute this to the heat given off by the various appliances, wall warts, persons, and the wiring itself. It’s a big house, but there are a lot of things going on in it, even when it appears that no one is here. Pilot lights dream. Clocks flicker. Wall warts hum and draw current. And today I am here, cooking, moving about, and using water and so on.
I mowed the yard yesterday or the day before. This is an upscale neighborhood and most of my neighbors own huge John Deer rigs complete with leaf and limb mulchers even though the average lot size is a less than an acre. I don’t know what brand my mower is. It has a motor, but I am unsure why it still runs. It seems to be missing vital parts. It has been run over by cars twice, so the wheels are wobbly. When my neighbor is out on his John Deer and sees me mowing, he looks the other way.
I have several indicators of how I am doing. Some of them are fairly direct. Some of them are subtle. If I open 100 words and see that I have not made an entry for three weeks, I know that something has happened to me, that I have been gone for three weeks. Barring a long vacation or alien kidnapping, it generally means I have had a problem. Usually I want to know where I have been during this time, what I have been doing. It was pretty obvious this time though. The doctors were experimenting with new meds again.
Human consciousness is a complex phenomenon. When it is mixed with emotions, the two tend to drive one another, neither ever really gaining true ascendency. Given that neither has much in the way of a clear direction to start with, it can be difficult to generate momentum in any direction at any time. Sometimes you must put your head down and run. Run through the city, through the suburbs, through the fields and forests. You must run in whatever direction you are pointed without regard to intelligence or emotion because all you know of yourself is that you must run.
I get a letter from The Crone. I have not heard from The Crone for a while. She has been busy elsewhere. In this letter she is sending new instructions and pointing out what I am doing wrong. I think. I am not sure. I read the letter three times. I cannot really follow it except that it provokes a kind of anxiety in me. I know it is dangerous to disobey The Crone. It is dangerous to anger The Crone. I may have done both. I don’t know how. Hence the anxiety. I put my head down and run.
My daughter calls. She apologizes for not calling. She has gotten her GRE scores back and can stop worrying. She can now get into graduate school. I pause for a moment wondering if she needs some money, but realize she was actually worried about the test. She says she heard that MJ, her brother got a job. I realize she has probably heard this from Jennifer, wondering what else she heard from Jennifer. But then, maybe her mother called her. I wouldn’t know. Yes, I say, he got his old job back. We make plans to have dinner tomorrow evening.
I can’t go to the nature center without thinking about Zoe, remembering the sound of her feet on the wooden bridges and her two-year-old crouch as she peered into any pools of water she could find. The nature center and the farm were Zoe’s two favorite places to go. If I asked her where she wanted to go, she would find a way to describe that place, Kensington Park. She finally settled on “The Green Slide” as its designation. It had a beach with a green slides, and of all the slides we visited, it was the only green one.
I’m at the airport early. I’m always early. I have parked in the usual place. That way I know where to find my car. It looks to be far away, but it actually is a short walk from the terminal. I’m mixing in with the others who are waiting, but I feel slightly out of phase from them, as if they can’t quite see me; yet I am somehow conspicuous. I tell myself it doesn’t matter, that they all have other things on their mind, that the person looking for me is on a plane that hasn’t even landed yet.
He finds himself in a narrow apartment overlooking a town square. In the distance he can hear a wooly river tearing at its banks. Everything in the apartment is small. The couch is small. When he lays on it his legs dangle over the end bent at the knees. He is afraid to leave the apartment. He darts to small stores searching the rooms when he returns to see if someone has been there. A door slams in the building, and he jumps. He goes to the railing, leans over the street, and breathes deeply, trying to slow his mind.
We did not know where the sand came from. It seemed to be the purest whitest sand and that fall it just began drifting across the lawns with the leaves. It piled up along the edges of the roads at first, and then in small clumps in the yards, filling in fallen leaves and gradually burying the leaves turning our yards into beaches. The children loved playing in it, although it quickly became a nuisance, blasting your body with the wind, and drifting into the neighborhoods where it clogged up filters choking out furnaces, mixers, mowers, and of course automobiles.
The crickets came with the sand. We were not sure which came first, the sand or the crickets. The crickets were like most crickets, except they were a brownish red color, turning brighter red as they grew larger. We had no idea how large or red they could get, nor where they came from. That understanding came later, and at that point the sand had brought everything to a standstill. They were so clean. They disintegrated so completely when hit by a car or even stepped on. I don’t think it was until the crickets got larger that we understood.
The sand at some point became gooey. It was sticky at first. You couldn’t just clean it away with an air gun. It was about the same time people started noticing that when the large bright red crickets were crushed, they just crumpled into a little pile of that bright white sand. And the teeny tiny crickets crawling around the sand. By then we were starting to see announcements on the internet and a few TV stories. People were looking out their windows at the four-foot drifts of sand reaching over the horizon, trying to comprehend it as cricket eggs.
Of course the damn things weren’t crickets at all. They were something, some kind of bug thing, a pretty bug thing actually, and as a bug fairly harmless except for their reproductive capabilities. It was the “sand”, the eggs that were deadly. It was very small sand and had an unusual affinity for moisture. It would cling to pant legs, fingernails, eyelids, nostrils, ears, and almost burrow, or it may as well have. It was said it would have been a nearly perfect preservation medium if each little granule had not eventually hatched out into another bug at some point.
I am having a sinking day, a sinking into the chair day, a sinking into the darkness of the very back of my mind day. I don’t have time for this. I don’t have time for a sinking day. I have too many things to do. The fact is that I am not good with sinking days. I don’t do them well. I don’t know how to manage them properly. I need to leave them for those who can handle them safely without causing injury to themselves or others about them. Let those who do things well do those things.
I am impulsive at times. I must have had a day where I thought a little extra income would be nice. Something prompted me to put the ad in Craig’s List to rent out one of the empty bedrooms upstairs. There are three of them. It seemed to make sense. I had considered renting them as storage, but finally decided to let a real person have one of them. At least that was my thought. I advertised a room to let either furnished or unfurnished for $250 a month. Judging from the number of responses, my price was too low.
There were too many responses to my ad for me to deal with them in any kind of organized way. It was just overwhelming. I had a new impulse. Walk away from it. Ignore the responses and continue my life with the empty rooms and a clear head and a life not cluttered with potential problems from people upstairs. A lot of the requests were from single mothers. Four of them wanted to trade house cleaning and cooking for rent. This was not what I had expected. What was going on out there? Times were worse than I had thought.
So I am having a new thought…a new impulse? But can I trust it? Sometimes your brain is not your friend. If things are that bad out there, I could accept all four applications from the homeless single mothers. I have the room. My house would be filled with children. I wonder if I would need a license to do something like this. I wonder what The Crone would say? She would scream. “You promised to consult me before doing anything crazy.” “I didn’t know it was crazy. I wouldn’t have done it if I had known it was crazy.”
I pour the last of the coffee from the decanter into my cup. There are grounds in it. The filter must have collapsed inside the filter basket again. I have grounds in my coffee. Sometimes I notice this ahead of time and I have a little screen filter I put in my cup to clear the coffee. I missed it this time. I will be chewing grounds as I drink my coffee. It occurs to me that I can transfer the coffee to another cup through the filter and get rid of the grounds. I have grounds for doing this.
I took my daughter Amanda and her boyfriend Ben out to dinner last night. She is selecting a graduate school. She is most likely going to Montana. Ben will be going with her, but will be working for a while before starting grad school himself. They are selling their house. I don’t know how long this is going to take, but they were giving me books, many of which had been mine to start with. I got in my car and drove home with a big bag of books. Onto the freeway in the dark. Montana. My heart was breaking.
I know what I have to do here if I keep this house. There are hundreds of things to do, some of them quite daunting. I know how to cut the 40-foot pine trees leaning against the front of the house. I am just nervous about how naked the place will look when I am finished. I worry that I will start too many projects and then have a lot of unfinished things going on all over the place. I know how to manage these things. I used to be a project manager. I should unpack some of those tools.
The sun has carved a bright corner across the hill. Leaves are starting to litter the ground. I will have to do leaves this year. This is something I escaped while living in the apartment. I don’t know what my strategy will be this year. It will most likely be to ignore them at first so I do not have to clean them up more than two or three times. My neighbor to the south is not big on doing leaves, so many of his will drift across to my lawn. If I leave them alone, they will continue drifting.
“How could you have not known?” The Crone asks.
“I didn’t meet him first. We did everything by email and notes. He was here a week before I even saw him.”
“And you had no idea?”
“He slept during the day and was out all night. I thought he worked nights.”
“And he moaned in his sleep.”
“And that didn’t seem odd?”
“My son Tom used to moan in his sleep. Hell I talk in my sleep. I’m told I recite parts of the Odyssey in the original in my sleep.”
“What are you going to do about this?”
I can do nothing. I talked to my son Tom who had a similar problem. If the guy doesn’t pay rent, damages the property, or gives me some cause then I can petition the court to have him evicted and maybe I can get him out in 3 months. Otherwise I am stuck. In other words, I can toss out the son living in the basement tomorrow if I want, but there is nothing I can do about the Zombie I let move in to the room next to me. But Tom, he’s a Zombie. Zombie’s have rights, Tom explains.
I look up. MJ is standing in the door. He looks upset. “What is it?” I ask.
“Did you eat the ice cream?”
“Somebody ate the ice cream.”
I crinkled up my nose. The smell coming from the Zombie’s room was starting to get strong. I wondered if that would be sufficient cause for eviction. “Maybe the Zombie ate it?”
“Zombies eat ice cream?”
“I don’t know.”
“Ty found a finger on the stairs this morning.”
“Did it have any ice cream on it?”
“It’s not funny dad. When are you gonna get rid of that guy?”
The zombie didn’t come home this morning. The smell from his room is still pretty bad though, but there is no moaning, and the over-sized padlock he put on the outside of his door is still there. I’m not sure if I should file a missing zombie report or not. Do you wait 24 hours? Perhaps he was taken out by the zombie vigilantes. He didn’t seem to be that bad a person. I can’t imagine him getting mixed up in that zombie stuff you see in the movies. Still, you don’t know what goes on in a person’s life.
The Tip Jar