REPORT A PROBLEM
Just 100words, to say what matters
No room for warm evasive chatter
The things that you thought, that drift in your mind
The memories that linger, sifted, refined
Put them in words, make them real with names
Recognize their presence, don’t play their games
Drag them blinking to conscious recognition
Label and pin them, no room for contrition
Now look at the pattern of things you’ve found
Wishes, memories, and dreams abound
Curiosities, enormities, misshapen things
What ifs, might have beens, haunted beings
Just 100 words to hold one to the light
Then release the others to scurry to night.
I spent half a morning at Gorilla Mufflers, a one man muffler shop, putting 70” chrome side pipes on my 2002 PT Cruiser. I have tinted the windows, replaced the back wiper blade with a chrome T handle and waxed the Steel Blue paint with Zaino car polish. Silver baby flames adorn the door emblems. In my mind it is the hot rod that I dreamed of as a teen and never had. Fifties music, fuzzy dice, cruising circles around the local drive in burger joint. Now I can afford to entertain the ghosts of those bygone days and emotions.
Limericks, you know you want to write one. “There once was a girl from Nantucket”, just gets the juices flowing doesn’t it. Lets try it:
There once was a girl from Manila
Whose looks were described as vanilla
But when she wrinkled her nose
And grabbed a vine with her toes
Her folks were exposed as gorillas
That’s not bawdy enough. You can do better. Lets don’t forget about the guys. “There once was a fellow from Venus”, now there’s a start. Or, “A pubescent young lass from Mulva”. That has a lot of possibilities. Easy to waste a morning.
So when is the Israel / Palestine thing going to cease to be news? Its been the same 10 minutes on the news every evening for my lifetime. They don’t know anything else but war. They like it, BOOM, they go straight to heaven. They’re happy, the arms dealers are happy, why do we in the US anguish over them and call it news. I hear Israel on the radio or the TV and click, I’m on to the next station. They’ve been playing the US for suckers for years and how many billions of our tax dollars? Enough’s enough.
Jogging with you in the sunshine, watching your golden hair bounce, causes me to think of Mary Oliver’s poem Poppies -
. . . Of course nothing stops the cold,
black, curved blade
from hooking forward ---
loss is the great lesson.
But also I say this: that light
is an invitation
and that happiness,
when it’s done right,
is a kind of holiness,
palpable and redemptive.
. . .
redeemed: the improved state of somebody or something saved from apparently irreversible decline.
The light in your hair, the endorphins in my brain, I’m saved sister, saved!
The local council is set to vote on a proposal to post the ten commandments in the Court House. Well meaning but narrow minded. Thanks but no thanks on the 10 commandments. They should be recommendations, not commandments. Think about it, people are blowing themselves and others up in the name of religion in the middle east right now. The last time we mixed religion and politics in the US people got burned at the stake. Leave the politics to the law makers and the religion to the preachers. Thank your own god daily for peace in the US.
I’m flipping through the Yellow pages looking for a lighting company. Page headings can randomly juxtapose some strange combinations. “Lingerie – Liquor”, “Massage – Material”, “Mounting – Movers”, “Podiatrists – Ponds”, “Real – Recording”, “Wedding – Weight”. Reminds me of the local radio host when asked if he was going to the Gun and Knife show, said no, I’m waiting for the Liquor and Dynamite show. Brings to mind pairs, couples, opposites, yin and yang. Things that are usually only thought of as a set. Bacon and eggs, beans and rice, Starsky and Hutch, Thelma and Louise. Paper or plastic, body and soul, lost and forgotten.
It’s a golden summer noon time. The rhythm of our foot falls and breathing soothes the stress of a morning’s office cares. As we jog through the dappled shade we see an old lady standing by her leashed dog who is lying down. We stop, looking through broken glasses she explains that the dog is old and has to take breaks as they walk. You kneel to pet him with infinite kindness. I don’t know what charms me most, your tenderness for the aging dog, or the swell of your youthful breasts as you lean to stroke his grateful head.
Sitting in my mother’s kitchen, the topic was something my younger sister had brought up. The conversation rolled along. My wife made some totally illogical remark. I looked at my sister, she deadpanned ‘You can dress them up but you can’t take them out’. I lost it, I shrieked, laughed, I couldn’t get my breath. I stumbled into the other room to gain some composure, I didn’t want to offend my wife. Why was it so funny? Had the thought lurked for years in my head unsaid? My sister and mom are gone. But their logic and laughter live on.
This 100 words a day thing to be a handsome hero
I’ve written about ten now to your what, zero
The male can display his feathers in bright hues
But there are also duties to acting the muse
Some active involvement from the feminine side
Could be an encouragement in extending the ride
This one sided effort can exhaust lean resources
Distractions occur and one finds other courses
A laugh and a smile get honorable mention
But jiggle and bounce can pump up attention
Resolve can soften, momentum can stop
In a manner of speaking it’s your turn on top
We married at twenty-one. Worked to get through college. Started at the bottom. Lived clean, went to church. Eventually we had two boys, two years apart. Too sweet to describe, life changes, hundred of rolls of film, first this, first that. Little league, skateboards, high school tennis, off to college. One becomes a structural engineer and marries a teacher, the other becomes an alcoholic, marries and divorces. Pick your addiction carefully, you’ll live with it. It’s peaceful for now, he lives with us, isn’t drinking. What happened, I think some of us never learn to cope, can’t ignore the darkness.
It’s early Sunday morning in the sunroom. The cats and I are bird watching as the earth’s warm engine brightens the dawn. The trees are shading from gray to green. The chirp and chatter increases with the morning light. House finches, chickadees, sparrows, and cardinals take impatient turns at the feeder. A pair of bluebirds guard their territory, as a hawk floats across the valley on a southerly breeze. Two ducks honk their way down the hollow toward Mill Creek. Nature’s timeless cycle of rebirth rolls on, indifferent to whether I dress for church or stay to watch her show.
I have taken a rare day off from work. The rain starts early ruining my plans to do some flower gardening. It turns out my wife has scheduled the maid to show up later in the afternoon. I have a few hours to relax and read or maybe watch a DVD. So I’m practicing operating the TV/DVD remote with my left hand. Menu, chapters, down, over, play. Play, play, pause, slow-mo. Play, Play, PLAY. Damned phone, pause. “Milk and bread I guess, bye.” Play, pause, reverse, slow-mo. Play, PLAY: PLAAY: PLAAAY: PLAAY: PLAY, Play, Pause. Umm. Now what to do?
I was up before dawn helping a friend set up the mile and kilometer markers for a big marathon race. Jumping in and out of the back of a truck as we circled the course. Then we doubled back to watch some of the race. The faces showed glee, determination, pain. The shared fantasy of successfully fleeing old age and death, at least for this morning. Then we went back to pick up the markers, and found the stragglers, the ones nature had not smiled on with physical prowess. But they were there, smiling proudly, persevering, sharing in the fantasy.
Indoors at the tennis center I’m dancing on Niked toes. I track the yellow ball to waist high, set my feet, lean in and swing through. Thwook. A topspin forehand passes my opponent down the line for a clean winner. Or, thwook. In another time and body, as I stand clad in animal skins, I release a spinning arrow from my wooden bow in a flat arch. A fleeing target falls for the evening meal. Primeval, rhythmic, animal pleasure. The seamless flow from thoughtful intent through physical execution thrills the body and soul. I am alive in that fleeting moment.
I went for a walk at lunch down to Betty Smith’s Nursery. I picked out two Bee Balms, perennials, and a Wave Petunia. What a great time of the year, all of the plants so fresh and green and bursting with blooms and promise. I planted the Bee Balm, which is supposed to attract butterflies and humming birds, under the variegated dogwood that I had moved from my mother’s house before we sold it. My sister Rene’ had bought it and I planted it for her. It’s a living memorial that reminds me often of her smile and gentle nature.
I took a spring walk yesterday with a group of my heroes. There were people from Metro Parks, State Conservation, private landscape designers, bird watchers, and bicycle enthusiasts. What they shared in common was a concern and love for the natural environment. We walked a gravel path loop near Antioch Middle School and Mill Creek. Years of planning, negotiating with land owners, and begging Metro for funds has finally shown results. As I sit in my backyard watching a bulldozer clear the next ridge, I am comforted to know these folks are preserving small tracks of green for future generations.
.So I can say anything right? We’re all friends here right? You’re the big silent, invisible shrink. So I’m a six foot four inch tall, two hundred and fourteen-pound, fifty-seven year old, middle income, handsome American male. Well, I like the height, I’ve enjoyed it since I was thirteen and outgrew all my friends. And the ladies like it. I still have all my hair, love to play tennis. Love, in tennis it means zero. Well, the old testosterone is definitely going south and it really pisses me off. Looking good and feeling good should be enough, but it isn’t.
We are having Sunday dinner in the dining room. Me, my wife, two sons, a daughter-in-law, her sister and the sister’s friend. These are the good times we look forward to. Hot food, shared experiences, the relief of a good laugh. The subject of our 19 day cross country vacation of 18 years ago comes up. I pull out the photo albums. Were we really that young, look at the hair, and those clothes. Crossing the continental divide, camping with frogs, it’s like Lampoon Vacation, what a warm memory. We promise to repeat it, but we’ll all be too busy.
I saw a hawk coasting on the wind this morning from my office window. He disappeared from view and then a few minutes later reappeared with a pigeon gripped in his claws. He landed on top of a taller building nearby and soon the pigeon feathers started floating out on wind. Breakfast for him, disaster for the pigeon. Then I saw the eagle faced department director’s head floating down the aisle over the cubicle walls. He banked into a new clerk’s office, grumbled commands, muffled replies. Paper falling from a desk floated into the aisle. Another innocent pigeon is victimized.
I think a lot about space and perspective. When you’re a baby you’re only aware of things an arms length away. You crawl and find the coffee table, walk and the room is yours, run and the neighborhood is your world. I always hated to see it rain, couldn’t play outside. When the first earth pictures from space showed the top of the clouds it dawned on me that the sun was always shining up there. Then the amazing Hubble telescope pictures of space, the galaxy, the universe! Perspective, point of view. Open the vista’s and you open the mind.
You have stopped to tie a shoe as we jog along Music Row. Overcome by the curves of your lithe form, I reach for your hands and looking up you fall into my arms. Our kiss is all it ever promised to be, gentle but insistent. “Over here”, a driver is holding open the back door of a white stretch limo. Tumbling in, our running silks fall away and we lock in the lovers' ultimate embrace. Our bodies, warm from jogging and anticipation, overheat in a thrashing moment. Too soon the throbbing ache of release, release, release. Driver, smiles, cigarettes.
Walmart, I round the end of an aisle and see you there, leaning on a buggy. No, it’s not you. A voice behind me, “Are you waiting to find her?” What, who? “I said, are you waiting in line sir?” I push forward, checking my hair in a mirrored column. A god voice above, “You always manage to request her approval”. Not really. “Manager to register for check approval.” I stagger back and hear, “No excuse for weeping” I turn around. “I said, excuse me I’m sweeping.” The ceiling spins, how can the gift of her interest create such delusions?
My wife and I built a 12X12 deck at ground level in back of our new house last summer. Just as I put in the last screw the man next door brings home a new puppy to yelp and poop in his backyard. I put in a small pond with fish and nice flowers. His kids come out to play ball and release the dog. The ball is in the flowers and the dog jumps in the pond. I called them philistines. “Like in the bible”, my wife says. No, more like in “ignorant, indifferent to artistic or cultural values.”
We’d just returned from a cold jog to the plant nursery. I had to pry your freezing little hand open to find the coins we were looking for. We had jogged clear to the park, were cutting through some woods, silently, thinking each other’s thoughts. We were on Church St. and you were dancing in delight as your backpack leaked water into your shorts. We were returning from across the river, and drugged by the warm sun, cool breeze, and exercise induced freedom, you said “This is as good as it gets.” And we both knew it was true.
Well this is weird. Yesterday I was working on a Disaster Recovery document for our mainframe financial system, answering a bunch of dumb questions from a wet behind the ears auditor. “What if the mainframe data center was OK and DOT HQ became inoperable?” Sure, that’s going to happen. So I made up some lame scheme about using other network connections away from downtown. Then, last night the Thermal Transfer Plant burned down. It supplies steam and chilled water for 30 downtown buildings. DOT HQ servers started overheating and were turned off! It’s like a piano out of the blue!
I sent her an email discussing a book we had both read. A lady in the book is dealing with the death of her brother and father. Struggling with life and death and meaning issues. So she emails have I come up with the MOL yet. Meaning of Life, I’ll just look it up on the web, everything else is out there. Much reading later I emailed her that life means what you make it mean, no more no less. She said that helped her, took some pressure off. Some of us carry loads of religious crap around for years.
Driving to work, alone. Wondering what the weekend will bring. Not listening to the radio. Not listening to my new favorite CD. Waiting for the caffeine to ease the ache in the back of my head. Looking forward to seeing friends at work, my substitute for the community, comaraderie and fun that I keep telling myself is missing in my life. Where’s the street life, the easy familiarity, the intrigue of Ally McBeal with background music? Just TV fantasy? Do those smiling people on Cheers really wind up bloated alcoholics with VD like the church people say? I wonder, wait.
A bill to create a state income tax and another to expand the sales tax are back on the House floor. The demonstrators are circling the capitol honking horns, waving their signs. Sometimes democracy is not a pretty thing. Sitting in my office nearby with tissue stuffed in my ears I’m thinking at least half those people would pay less with an income tax. They’re just congenital horn honkers, any chance to get out in public and make an ass of themselves. Well, at least they’re not throwing rocks and fire bombs and blowing themselves up like some other countries.
My latest rant is light pollution. Have you ever gone out on your deck or porch in the evening to enjoy the stars and seen only a few stars and a lot of glare from a street light or a neighbor’s flood light. Light pollution and light trespass. It is becoming a national concern. I’m on a mission to ‘enlighten’ my neighbors, build a consensus and make some changes! Yeah, right. Most of them are philitines, incapable of contemplating the beauty and mystery of a dark sky. Afraid to be alone in the dark. Maybe I’ll just shoot them out.
I’ve got thirty in. Have to thin my eyebrows frequently. I buy Nuprin in the family size bottle. It takes two days to fully recover from a doubles tennis match. A long time friend at work retires next month. Retirement, I don’t think I can deal with that right now, besides I can’t really afford it. What would I do? My long time friends are mostly at work and I only see them there. Maybe I’ll just work ‘till I drop. Maybe they’ll get tired of me and run me off. Maybe my health will fail. Maybe I’ll just procrastinate.
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