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BY suzy

06/01 Direct Link

My friend Lichen used to be hairdresser to the stars in Beverly Hills.  Now he lives a couple of miles from me in the depths of the country, and is a landscape gardener.  All I have to do is drive a couple of miles, turn onto a side road which becomes a dirt track, leave the car, climb down the steep side of the hill, and I can get a free Beverly Hills haircut on his deck. It’s a sunny day, and it’s tranquil there, overlooking his garden, listening to the snip of scissors and our gossipy laughter. 

06/02 Direct Link

One false move: my sister pivots to the left while standing at work and injures her knee. She had surgery on it five years ago – both she and our brother have been plagued by knee problems all their lives – and it looks like she’ll be having it again. She works twelve hour night shifts at the local hospital, and can’t find anyone to replace her, so she works the remaining nine hours on crutches without complaining. Now she’s mired in the bureaucracy of workers’ comp, trying to get it repaired so she can get back to work.   

06/03 Direct Link

The diner is long and narrow. It’s run by an ancient Chinese couple, who may or not speak English. She doesn’t know, because all she orders is coffee.  As soon as they see her come in the door, they pour a cup of coffee and push it across the cracked pink formica counter.  She takes it to one of the booths with its peeling green vinyl upholstery and miniature jukebox.  Some of them work, some of them don’t, and she always puts in a quarter just in case, mentally betting on the result. Today is a win.  

06/04 Direct Link

My birthday barbecue is rained out, just like my sister’s was nine days ago.  Neither of us can believe this, and we commiserate on the misery of the weather. I cannot remember it ever raining in June.  Usually, it rains from early December until March or so, then it’s sunny until the winter rains start again. Having said that, it’s been warm enough for a picnic on the beach on Christmas Eve, and one of my favorite pictures of my late father is of him wading in the ocean at Bodega Bay on New Year’s Day.    

 

06/05 Direct Link

As soon as I get up, I know something is wrong.  June is nowhere to be seen.  When she doesn’t come for breakfast, I begin to worry.  If she’s outside, she always comes running to the door as soon as she hears the food hit the dish. Unlike most cats, she comes when she’s called, so when she doesn’t appear to my repeated calls, my concern grows. When she misses both meals, I’m near panic.  Everyone tells me not to worry, but in my heart, I feel sure that I’ll never see her again.   

06/06 Direct Link

I spent hours looking for June today.  The search made me realize how much junk there is on this property. James lived here for more than thirty years, and it seems he never threw anything away.  There seems to be an endless supply of old cars, trailers full of junk, and other stuff.  All the trailers seem to be open, and anything I had trouble wrenching open was cat-free.  I walked down the logging road to the main road, along it, then down the driveway. I stopped at the front house and met the new tenant, but no June.    

06/07 Direct Link

I’m trying to stay hopeful, but it’s a struggle.  I make a flyer and put it in the neighbors’ mailboxes. I post it on the utility poles on the main road, at the post office and store.  I figure everyone eventually goes to the store or the post office, so if anyone sees her they’ll know whom to call. Next I’ll take the flyers to the shelter, which I’m dreading, partly because the shelter always upsets me, and partly because I know she isn’t there and that will be last flame of hope, extinguished.   

06/08 Direct Link

Missing June is like a constant, throbbing bass note in a song.  Everything reminds me of her, every day a struggle. I have lost two cats in two months, and that’s too much. At least Henry Etta had a long life – the vet said she was very old, and she died in her sleep, peacefully – but June wasn’t even three years old.  She was glowing with health and beauty and had her whole life ahead of her. I battle through the days, keeping busy, but at night, when I finally stop, the grief monster catches up with me.   

  

06/09 Direct Link

When you’re a kid, you can’t wait to grow up. Your vision of being grown–up is staying up late, eating pizza whenever you want, and never having to do homework again. It does not include paying taxes; constant financial worries; pregnancy fears or menstrual agony (another of those delightful life choices like death or old age – you decide!); being served with divorce papers at work; writing your father’s obituary at his desk where his glasses wait for his return; or looking for your beautiful cat who has vanished when she is less than three years old.     

06/10 Direct Link

My sister and I spend the day together. It’s good to get out of the house, and the sun is finally shining. We have gift certificates to spend at the bookstore, but I can’t bring myself to buy anything.  In a way, it’s nicer to know that I can buy something than to actually buy it. It’s a lovely store, and it’s fun to look around.  We also meet up with a friend for lunch. But June is never far from my thoughts, and the nights are hardest, when her sister ventures into the darkness.   

06/11 Direct Link

I am terrible in emergencies.  I love the ocean at night. I spend a few minutes each day regretting my laziness, but do nothing to change it.  I create chaos while coveting tidiness. I dream of bright  skyscrapers and the beauty of cement sidewalks. I wish I had even the slightest trace of artistic talent. I am superstitious and equally unsure of the existence of God and ghosts. I do believe in retail therapy, however. I don’t know my times tables.  I read quickly.  I want to overcome my fears without any effort. I open the door, start again.   

06/12 Direct Link

I have to learn to live with this. Last night, I kept my remaining cat in all night. I thought she would go berserk trying to get out, the way she used to before the advent of the cat flap, but she didn’t. I woke up before 5:00 and couldn’t find her.  I was immediately convinced that she’d found some secret way out of the house.  I finally found her sitting still, waiting for a mouse or bug she was tracking.  Relief flooded me, and I felt sorry for my cat, having such an overprotective mother. 

06/13 Direct Link

When they got married, his wife convinced him to buy a sprawling house in the suburbs. The bigger, the better, she said, her heels clacking on the hardwood floors, her long nails clicking against granite counters in the kitchen, marble in the bathroom. Two sinks, she decreed, though they never got dressed at the same time. It was the least she could expect. Didn't he want the best for her? He went along with it, because he thought she was too good for him and he couldn’t believe she had ever agreed to marry him in the first place.  

  

06/14 Direct Link

The downside to this manicured suburban perfection was the rules and regulations set down by the homeowners’ association. You could not paint your house – or even your mailbox – certain colors, or have an old car up on blocks outside to work on.  You’d get in trouble for neglecting your landscaping. He hadn’t mowed the lawn in weeks, and loved the wildflowers that grew there now. He lay in the grass, invisible from the house. His wife called him, but he lay still in the grass, imagining that he had become part of it and was home at last.   

06/15 Direct Link

He picks up his cell phone.  After two rings, her voicemail kicks in. “This is Leila. You know what to do.” Beep. He clicks off, dials again, listens to the same eight words again, over and over. He closes his eyes, listening to her voice as intensely as he does music. He holds onto her voice in the dark of the night, imagining that he’ll see her again tomorrow, see her beautiful face, hear her sultry voice. Once more and then he’ll sleep. But the number’s been disconnected. After all, she’s been dead for a month.    

06/16 Direct Link

I’m blocked. I’m now a day late for submitting an article. Although I got an extension, so I’m not technically late, I can’t bring myself to churn out the requisite 300 words. Usually, I can just turn it on, and just look at all the 100 Words I’ve written, not to mention more than nine years of blogging. Ironically, I have been able to start blogging again after a week off from shock, and I’ve kept up with these 100 Words this month, but I can’t seem to write this overdue short article.     

06/17 Direct Link

Joel likes everything to be in order. He sees the world as a problem, an alarming array of chaos which must be tamed and put in order. He knows perfectly well that he can’t control everything, though sometimes during the long bus ride to work, he toys with the idea of being King of the World, deciding what things he’d keep and which would go. For one thing, he thinks, I’d have the buses run on time every day. Every single day. He luxuriates in the thought as he stands in the rain at the bus stop.  

06/18 Direct Link

For a girl whose father wrote a book about spiders (well, about the effects of pesticides on spiders), I’m not a big fan. This is unfortunate, since my hippie hovel abounds in both spiders and bugs, a mystery, since spiders are supposed to eat the bugs. I must have slacker spiders, laid-back dope-smoking spiders. The one thing they are efficient at is web-building. There are cobwebs everywhere. The other day, I swept them all off the balcony. The next morning, I found a huge, outsized web in the balcony’s arch, a giant spider “Screw you." 

06/19 Direct Link

I can’t explain his gentleness, this beautiful man who was rejected by his Mormon family for being who he is. He never shows any bitterness toward them or anyone, even the lovers who broke his heart. He simply grows his flowers, surrounding himself with the beauty of nature, living quietly with his big dog and small cat, far from other people, at peace with himself. He has built a good life, with friends who love him, and creates lasting beauty wherever he goes. His family will never know what they’re missing. They’re the ones making the sacrifice.  

06/20 Direct Link

I leave the doors open all day, now that the weather is finally warmer. Even when I'm gone all day. I realize this is a real luxury, after years of living in cities where you make sure that everything is locked up before running even a short errand. While I was gone, the house seems to have been invaded by a bird, since there was fresh bird poop on my couch when I got home. Oddly, there was no sign of the bird itself, or even feathers showing that my cat had been in a battle with it. Another mystery.   

  

06/21 Direct Link

Most people find their office cubicles depressing, but not Marlene. She often says, “I’d never take an office even if They offered it to me,” unaware of the eye rolling behind her back which always accompanies this statement. Marlene is not popular, though she is completely unaware of this fact. After all, she’s the one who always circulates the office birthday cards, and brings in the tasteless slab of sheet cake, balancing it precariously in the elevator, getting icing on her thumbs. She never even thinks about it, assuming that everyone likes her as she says “Good morning.”  

06/22 Direct Link

She was still rinsing off her hair in the shower when her husband told her he was leaving. “What, honey?” she called, thinking he wanted her to pick up milk on the way home. He came into the bathroom and repeated the statement. She turned off the water and emerged, wrapping herself in a towel. “What are you talking about?” she asked, dripping on the bath mat.

“I’m leaving. It’s over. I’m sorry,” he said, edging toward the door. As the door closed behind him, she found herself rerunning the scene in her mind. With clothes on.  

06/23 Direct Link

She likes things to be small. Is that so wrong? All her toiletries, for example, are travel-sized, although she never travels. She has never owned a passport or flown on a plane, and doesn’t want to. That’s for other people, not her. She doesn’t have time for foreign places and strange food and ungodly people. In fact, it’s a good thing they live so far away. She rearranges the miniature bottles, thinking that they make her bathroom look so much bigger. She hums as the setting sun shines through the window, glinting on the bottles. 

06/24 Direct Link

You are always willing to help. You rarely lose your temper, but you hold a grudge. You love your cat, but not your mother. You never go to the movies. You love to read. You have never fully explored your many gifts. You still seem like a child. You are wiser than your years. You are a good driver. You never worry about flying. You never think about death. You never think about tomorrow. You have already forgotten about the past. You have managed to collect a lot of things while eluding the grasp of materialism and greed. You are. 

06/25 Direct Link

My landlord is redoing the water system for the entire property. It’s a huge undertaking, and like all such things, is taking longer than expected. He hired someone to cut a trench down the middle of the half mile long driveway, then put the pipes in, connected them, filled the hole and had someone come and grade it. No wonder the previous owner never did it, passing on years of deferred maintenance. Of course my house is the only one which doesn’t have water but does have complications. He’s still working on it as the day fades.    

06/26 Direct Link

Working at the dress shop was partly a favor to the owner, who is a friend, and partly for the extra money. But it’s turned out to be a revelation. Most women seem to have no idea what they really look like. Lovely, slim women try on clothes that look great on them, only to exclaim in disgust how “fat” they look. No matter how often she tries to tell them they’re wrong, they refuse to believe her. Looking in the mirror, she resolves to change her own view of herself. But it’s harder than it sounds.  

06/27 Direct Link

When they bought the motel, he was sure that they’d make a fortune. She wasn’t so sure, but went along with the idea. Maybe he was right. "Who knows?", she thought at the time. No-one could have predicted that a new highway would be built just a few miles away, making the road their motel was on obsolete. Now she only had two rooms made up at any given time, and never turned off the neon “No Vacancy” sign.  She drained the pool, watching the water vanish in the desert sun, along with their hopes and dreams.   

06/28 Direct Link

All it would take was one big win. Just one. It was always around the corner, and the shining hope was always right in front of him. He considered studying the racing form to be homework of a sort, and it only made sense that it was more important than helping the kids with their homework. If he hit it big, he’d have time to help. Or he could hire a tutor. He couldn't understand why his wife couldn’t see the logic. He placed his bets behind her back. What she didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her.    

06/29 Direct Link

The water project is almost over! The only thing left is for the filled-in trench in front of my house to settle so my landlord can rake the gravel over it. In the meantime, I no longer have to buy bottled water to drink or wash the dishes in hose water.  The faucets were clogged for a while with debris from all the work, and the air in the pipes is still working its way through, so sometimes the water temperature fluctuates, which is especially delightful in the shower. Sometimes I think I should get paid to live here. 

06/30 Direct Link

I look back at the twenty-five days I have endured without June with amazement. Each day has been a battle through grief, anger, guilt, and the unknown. I feel as if I have climbed a mountain, slowly, painfully, and am looking back at the long way I have come in astonishment. How did I get there from here? How have I survived so many days without my beautiful, beloved girl? Looking forward into the near and distant future, I can’t imagine how I will get through that. The rest of my life, however long, will be without her.