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The lady in my headphones says to recharge headset. She does not say, “Recharge the headset.” She is not big on articles. Perhaps the programmer who created her was not big on articles. Perhaps she does not have much memory. It surprises me how fast I can go from attack of the flying monkeys to sleepy. She says, “Recharge headset,” again over the music in the background. You take a piece of candy out of the bag on the table by your chair and go back to your IPad. You are struggling with some interfering message you have picked up.
I had to put the wireless cans on the charger. I am on the back-up hard-wired set now. They are actually better headphones sonically. I wonder if I had spelled that with one “l,” had I spelled that with one “l” if the spellchecker would have kicked in. Testing…one “l.” And the spellchecker nails me. I am more amazed that I spelled it correctly than I am about the spellchecker. I have grown used to the righteous correctness of the spellchecker and its occasional flubs. I am just thankful it still has an override switch. I am creative that way.
The snow has stopped again. It has stopped everything with it and there is a silence covering the … what? Is the silence covering the land? The yard? Is the silence merely covering the back deck or is it covering my mind and all my perception and all my imagination? Has sound gone out of the world? The clock chimes and I realize that sound has not gone out of the world. Perhaps I can imagine the sound of the clock away. How would I do that? I could introduce a recording of the clock that is out of phase.
It is almost Christmas. ‘Tis the season anyway. The pink angel delicately climbs the stairs. We re-attach her arms and fasten the trumpet to her mouth. You want to reinforce her with zip ties. I’m thinking they are likely to just make it more difficult to put her back together when she falls apart again, but I say nothing. We will deal with consequences when we have to. In the meantime, I thread the little zip ties through the webbing of the wire frame. Out the door the angel goes while I take a misstep and almost come apart myself.
It’s cold out. It’s squeaky cold. It’s where the ice piles up on top of the car and you drive in little ruts that throw the car around. We drove downtown in the little ruts to the medical supply store to get you, of all things, an ice pack. We stopped for gas on the way back. I tried to pick the pump that had the smallest puddle of melted snow in front of it. My car has been complaining that the tires are low on air, but it does this every winter. It is hard to believe, isn’t it?
When I was a child I would play in the snow with the boy next door, Harold McKenzie. We would dig tunnels in the snow and play in them. It makes me claustrophobic now to even think of it and, really, how deep must the snow have gotten in Ohio for us to be able to do that. Somehow it seems that we have less snow nowadays than we did then. Is it because I am bigger and it just seems like less snow? Still even enough snow for a child to tunnel through would be a couple feet deep.
The snow piled on. It covered houses and then the steeples. We dug tunnels to each other when we could find the terminus. The power went out. It wasn’t like there was ever power we could count on, but this final glimmer of power went out. So we were buried in the snow, in the dark and then we began to imagine that we could not breathe. Or was it true? Could we no longer breathe in the dark or was it that our spirits were finally snuffed out there in the cold darkness. A hand reaches across a room
She was sorting through her change jar. He offered to take the pennies to the bank for her. “When will you take them?” she asked. “Next week,” he said. “I’ll take them next week.” She seemed to be satisfied with that answer and handed over the sandwich bag full of pennies. He felt the weight of them in his hands. They had the heft and flow of a woman’s breast. It seemed odd to him that they should since the copper should weigh more than flesh. Yet there it was, in his hands, flowing across his fingers as he moved.
“What’s next?” he thought as he finished sweeping the porch. There had to be something next, always something next. It kept the flying monkeys away. He went inside the house to make the bed. The bedroom was at the back of the house. There were two bedrooms at the back of the house, one to the right and one to the left. Between them was the back door with the wooden screen door that slapped shut in the summer. There were three wooden steps, falling down, slanting down toward the ground, now wet with snow and dark with the damp.
She was saying something to him. She was cross. He looked her and she repeated, motioning with her hand. “I don’t understand you,” he said a little cross now himself. His head had been somewhere else, had just floated off like a volley ball on the lake. And the noise. The supermarket was a giant noisy circus. She wanted him to put the groceries from the cart onto the counter. The man ahead of him had placed the stick marking the division between their groceries. He had been waiting for that before his head had floated off. The quiet place.
There was nothing now. He was aware of nothing. He couldn’t hear the music or the noise of the humidifier. He couldn’t see anything; even the flashes of random color behind his eyelids were gone. The cool feeling, like alcohol splashed on the side of his head; that was gone now too. There wasn’t even a feeling of floating. He was left with a quiet sadness for things gone. That was always with him. The older he got the more pronounced that became. It was as if there was nothing to be gone when he was younger. That had changed.
He was walking in his mind, down across he spongy grass to the river. There were lights along the river now. There hadn’t been before. He wondered how could that be. The moon was bright too. He could see clearly as he moved. It was not like walking. It was more like gliding. He had been here before. He wondered if he were dreaming. It was like this sometimes. To dream. Some dreams would hold you. You didn’t want to leave them. In the morning you fought the waking to get the dream back. This would be one of those.
It was in his mind that the writing did not come as easily as it once had. That was not something he had planned for, but then why should it? Nothing came as easily as it once had. He had read about the insults of aging before, but he had not understood. Apparently no one had adequately described them. Alternatively, he had not been paying attention. This was more likely. It was so difficult to truly pay attention. The mind slid across a thing, like a stick on ice. It got no traction. Then too these things moved so quickly.
He was sweeping the floor of the porch again. He was using a straw broom with a red wooden handle. This must be possible, he reasoned. There must still be someplace that sold straw brooms with red wooden handles. Somewhere there was a warehouse full of them. They had just been forgotten. A twig fell between the floorboards and became wedged there. The straw broom would not move it. He tried sweeping backward but it did not help, so he bent over and picked the twig up. He held it in his hand against the wooden handle as he swept.
He had thought perhaps he was sweeping his grandmother’s porch, but that was not quite right. His grandmother’s porch had stepped down to a large flat stone, a piece of slate? This porch might have done that too, but there was no well in the front yard, and certainly no road. It occurred to him that the house he remembered as his grandmother’s was not the only one she had had. It perhaps was the only one she had owned, but she had lived in many places. She had even lived as a girl and had memories from that time.
He was sleepy now and he thought he might go into the back of the house and lie down on the bed. He was in his grandmother’s house again. He knew where the bed was, in the back of the house. It seemed to him that the house had a second floor, but he could not remember where the stairway was to get to it. There was at least a small room with a dormer up there. He remembered his uncle’s room. Or was that a different house. It did not matter. He remembered where there was a bed here.
There were times when all the houses in his head became mixed up, the spindles on so many staircases intertwining and busting out, exploding through the windows and sticking in the ceilings and walls. There were houses with wooden floors over dirt floors, over concrete pads, over basements stuck into the earth. There were houses he had never entered and houses he had been in again and again, houses where he knew the swing of the newel post as well as he knew the curve of his own nose, probably better. What happened to all these houses when he died?
It has come backward, eating its tracks in the snow. I can see it not so far away now and I am concerned about what will happen when it passes me. How far does its influence extend? Are the tracks all that will disappear or will it take me with it? And when did it pass originally? It must have been after the snowfall to have left tracks, unless those tracks fell with the snow, having been placed there forever ago like the untracks normally falling with the snow. Things have changed it seems. The world has been thrown off.
I am cringing, my toes scrunching against the pads on my feet, the arches bending like twin bows. What seems to be the matter? Matter is anything that has weight and occupies space. Matter is anything that has mass. They used to divide it into two categories, organic and inorganic. Using Google I can see that now there are many ideas about how to categorize matter, and none of them use the organic/inorganic division. Of course it has been many years since I learned about matter. Maybe fifty years. How did I live to be so old so quickly? Organic.
There is nothing to be said. Is this one of those entries where I run out of words before I reach the end? Like a man out of breath and unable to finish a run? No, that is unlikely. I can squeeze words out like water out of a sponge. They may not make sense, but they will trickle out and they will be counted. To be counted is to live. If a man is not counted, does he live? If a word is not counted, does it exist? Of course. There are many uncounted words and they all exist.
I’ve got new socks on. You haven’t seen these before. I pulled them out of the package in my sock drawer. I think I still have two new pair left in the package. My toes are cold inside the new socks. They feel damp and cold. I move them but it does not appear to warm them up. They dance there on the ends of my feet. If I am not careful I will go to sleep. I seem to sleep a lot any more. I wonder if it is because I am older now. I got older quite suddenly.
You have been thinking about throwing the Christmas tree box out. You don’t know it, but I too have been thinking about throwing the Christmas tree box out. You envision it being sliced up into pieces of cardboard that then get stuffed into the trash can. My vision is different. I see a day when the garbage can goes out about half full and I stuff the box into the top of the can leaving it sticking out. With either vision we have cardboard sticking out of the trash can. With my vision I am not breaking down the box.
This is not a paragraph. It is a box with words sticking out the sides. It has eight sides. It is a four-dimensional box. Each side is a square. And it has words sticking out the spaces between the boards like a box full of fish with fish parts sticking out here and there. I reach over and pull out a word. The word is “because.” When I pull out “because” four other words fall out with it. They fall to the ground where they quickly disappear. I am thinking it made a difference that I pulled out a conjunction.
I am sleepy. This is hard to do when I am sleepy. I look over at you to see that you have already fallen asleep. I cannot fall asleep. I have too many things I want to do. Then I also have things you want me to do. There is no end to this thing to do which is odd because when I spoke with my mother this morning we agreed that I had nothing to do today. We discussed my taking a nap. It must have been a lie, this nothing to do. I knew when I said it.
It is a little bit of a panic. I had nearly fallen asleep. Not completely, but almost, enough for my train of thought to derail and become something else. This time my train of thought became a train. There I go with the age again. I remember riding a passenger train pulled by a steam locomotive when I was a young child. This past summer I rode a train that was considered a tourist attraction because it was pulled by a steam locomotive. These things have passed into history, huffing and chuffing and blowing black clouds of coal smoke skyward.
Shortly I will begin other things. It was my idea to do this until two o’clock and then do other things. Some of the things are things I meant to do. Some of them are things you mean for me to do and I do them perhaps to honor you. I certainly do not do them because I want to. I often have different ideas than you do about what I should do or what I want to do or how I should do what I want to do. When I am done here, I will turn off the blanket.
The blue light. We were all fascinated by the blue light. We would stay up late to watch it. It was not like any other light we had ever seen. It came from a tiny seed of blue light dropped over Southeast Asia. It was not overly bright when seen up close; yet it covered the globe with a uniform blue light. It did not diminish as you got farther from it. It blotted out the sun and the moon. It blotted out the stars. There were no more overcast days. There were just blue days and the blue nights.
Dead grass covers the lower part of the hill. Some kind of grass or some kind of plant I don’t know. Much of our grass stays green during the winter. I think I have read this is fescue grass. The dead grass must not be fescue. It may not be grass at all. I don’t know. Farther up the hill are several green plants. These aren’t evergreens. This all confuses me. Things do not seem to be as I remember them, or perhaps I just have not been paying attention. I must have not been paying attention for a long time.
I can smell the bacon throughout the house. That is why I don’t like to cook bacon. It’s the smell. Like a thin film of bacon grease covering everything. You breathe it in. It coats your skin and hair. I cooked the bacon to please you. You wanted bacon. You had bought it at the supermarket and was going to cook it this morning. But your knee was hurting you, so I cooked the bacon. My knees don’t hurt so much. It was a thick bacon. Special edition you said. Sure enough the bacon package proclaimed it was Special Edition.
I cooked the bacon in the square green pan. It was the first time the square pan had been used. You bought the square pan at the resale shop. You love buying things at the resale shop the same way I used to love buying audio amplifiers. I don’t know when I lost my adoration for buying audio amplifiers. It may have been when I moved in here and no longer had space for audio amplifiers and such things. I notice that sometimes you are bothered when you realize you have no space to put things from the resale shop.
I cooked the bacon in the square green pan. I think the pan was green. I may have misremembered that. I may have seen it incorrectly in the first place. I am a little color blind and have trouble with greens and browns. So the pan may have actually been brown or even a little bit red. But green is how I remember it. You brought it home from the second hand store and this was the first time the pan had been used. You asked how the bacon fit in the pan. I brought it to you to see.
The Tip Jar