Saturday, October 25, 2008

My Favorite Son

I know . . . he's my only son. But on his birthday he deserves favorite status.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Little More Fiction

“Here we go,” Tanya said. “How about him? He walks with a certain air of confidence.”

My sister Tanya and I were making our way from the supermarket to our car, our hands full of groceries in ecologically-correct fabric bags. “Him” was pushing a cart ahead of us, just out of hearing. His walk did, in fact, border on swagger. His shoulders were broad in a grey tweed jacket, and I liked his hair. But . . .

“He has tiny feet,” I said.

Tanya leaned her head to the left. “Oh, yeah. They are tiny. We don’t like tiny feet.”

“Not on men, anyway,” I said. “Maybe we should loosen up a little on our criteria.”

“Mmmm . . . We do have a rather long list.”

“But every item is important,” I said. “Like the car.”

“The car is definitely important.”

I watched the man in the grey jacket head toward a group of cars not far from ours. “Oooh . . . oooh . . .” I poked Tanya. “If he gets into that S550, I’m gonna flag him down and tell him he has cute feet.”

“I’ll be right behind you,” Tanya said.

The guy stopped his cart one car short of the Mercedes and used his key to unlock the trunk of a large white sedan.

“Oh, crap,” Tanya said. “The Crown Vic.”

“With rust,” I said.

“With rust,” Tanya echoed.

Our pace slowed as we approached my car. “Another one down,” I said.

“How many is that now?” Tanya asked.

“I dunno . . . I’ve lost count.”

“Me, too.”

“Do you suppose we should start over?” I said, unlocking the trunk and placing groceries inside.

“Like making that guy number one?”

“Well, we could,” I said, opening the driver’s side door. “Or we could make the next guy number one. After we take a look at our criteria and maybe do a little updating.”

We both got in the car. “Yeah,” Tanya said. “A little updating sounds like a plan.”

And with that I started the engine of our late aunt’s 1988 Ford Festiva, and we drove away.

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Little Fiction

I've started writing some flash fiction from a daily prompt on a writers' website. This morning's prompt was an unspeakable act.

On the Couch

Joy wasn’t somebody who made things up. I know this because she had been coming to me for years, ever since her husband, a Rock Hudson kind of guy with no effeminate traits to give him away, had left her for the male nurse who had been given the task of shaving him before his appendectomy.

Totally shocked, like so many wives in these cases, Joy needed someone to help her process this. Her sister, whom I had helped after her experience with large-group hypnosis had resulted in a weight gain and craving for cigarettes, recommended me. And so Joy became a regular occupant of my couch—sitting on it, of course, not lying down. Only one of my clients has ever chosen to lie on it, and that only lasted until he suggested that I join him.

So here she was on an ordinary Tuesday morning, sun streaming in the window behind her, telling me something that with anyone else would surely sound made up. It began in a normal enough fashion.

“I want to talk about something I experienced last night,” she said.

“Did you go out?” I asked.

“No, no . . . this happened in bed.”

“You were with someone?” I asked, surprised.

“No!” she practically shouted. And then in a calmer voice, “No, just let me explain. I have to figure out how to say this.”

I sat there in the silence, hoping she wasn’t going to tell me she’d just discovered masturbation at age 42.

She began again. “I wasn’t asleep yet, but I wasn’t quite awake.”

I wondered if I was allowed to talk now. I took a chance. “The hypnagogic state,” I said.

“Right, that’s it,” she said. “I forgot the term.”

She was quiet for another moment.

“Okay,” she said, “so I was lying there listening to the summer night sounds, feeling close to sleep, when I started hearing things.”

She paused, and I figured she was waiting for the obvious question. So I asked it. “What kind of things?”

“People’s voices,” she said. “Little snatches of conversation. As though I’d overheard them during the day without realizing it, and now they were playing back to me.”

“Do you think you did overhear them?”

“If I did, it wasn’t yesterday,” she said. “I was home all day because the kids had off from school. Anyway, I just lay there, listening to these voices—male and female, none of them familiar to me—and then I saw something.”

I waited, and then asked the obvious again: “What did you see?”

“That’s my point,” she said without impatience. “I don’t know what I saw.”

“Were your eyes open?”

“No, my eyes were closed. It was a vision. Or a snapshot of a dream.”

“Okay. Well, what can you tell me about it? What did it look like?”

“That’s the problem, Vera,” Joy said. “I can’t tell you a thing. You know how people have near-death experiences and come back to life and say they have no words to describe what they saw? And you think, ‘Don’t be silly . . . we have all the words for shape and height and color and everything else.’ And still they say they have no words to describe their experience? Well, that’s what I’m telling you about last night. I saw something, something that scared me. But I have no words to describe it. No words at all.”

Monday, October 13, 2008

October, From 120 Feet Up

My son climbed to the top of his 12-story ham radio tower this weekend and took pictures of fall foliage. This isn't our barn (ours isn't nearly as pretty), but I love the shot.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Someone Else's List

I found a list in an old book I bought at the library sale last week. A shopping list, I realize, is a rather intimate look into someone's life and thoughts. From now on I'll be more careful about where mine end up. Here's the list:

Go to Chinatown, it begins. Who puts “go to Chinatown” on a shopping list? That’s like saying, “Get a job.” Or “Try skydiving.” But maybe “go to Chinatown” is a navigational directive. Try saying it in a GPS voice: “Go tooo Chynatown.” Could be it’s like something on a Monopoly board. Go to Chinatown. Do not collect $200.

Call Rhode Island Historical Society. When? After we get to Chinatown? And what do I say when they answer?

Get Av. Fisher Tkts. TeKanawa and PDQ Bach. Well, that narrows the year down somewhat. Avery Fisher Hall got its name in 1973. Before that it was Philharmonic Hall. So this isn’t a terribly old list. Just an unusual one. (I, too, love Kiri Te Kanawa and Peter Schickele.)

Order Garden of Heavenly Delights. This could be anything. A work of music. A film. A selection of pastries from an uptown bakery.

Library: Lulu, MG, read new MG book. I’m not sure about Lulu, but I’m curious about MG. Who might s/he be? Any ideas?

Listen to F. von St. records. Frederica Von Stade, I assume. I liked her, too. Great voice, great face. I wonder if she still records. Probably not.

Check out Arne’s Love in a Village. I had to Google this one. “Love in a Village” is a play, but who is Arne? A cast member, perhaps? A friend of the list maker’s?

Check out Church Windows by Respighi. Uh-oh…..if she (or he) is checking out a piece of music, s/he probably means check it out of the library. That makes Arne, above, all the more mysterious.

Check out The Diary of One Who Disappeared. Another Google. It’s music. By Janacek.

Check out Berlioz Les Muits de Ete. More good taste in music.

Get new shoes at Capizio. Well, that settles the gender issue. Or does it??

See Places in the Heart. Okay, we’ve narrowed the year down to 1984. Twenty-four years ago.

Go to CDSS. Is this like, “Go to Chinatown”? What is CDSS? Did CVS used to be called CDSS? I don’t think so. CDSS . . . CDSS . . . Chinese Dim Sum Soupery? Probably not.

African Art at 3 places. Oh, fine. Tell us African art is here, but don’t tell us where it is. You’ll notice she didn’t say “Go to” African art at 3 places. Even the most intrepid list-maker eventually gets tired.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Reading in the Car With Annie

Late this afternoon I went outside to close the car trunk, and found myself drawn to the interior. Said interior was even messier than usual, with the dog's comforter still draped over the passenger seat. But the sun had disappeared behind thick clouds, and the wind was picking up, and the dog comforter looked cozy.

I opened the door and got in. I was right; the car was warm inside, and once I shut the door I was insulated from all sorts of things, including the shocking financial statement that had arrived in today's mail.

I picked up the book on the front seat and started reading. David Sedaris. I saw Annie moseying down the path from the house, and I opened the door for her. She jumped in without hesitation, and went right into rub-face-on-everything-especially-the-book mode. My laughter went back and forth from Annie to Sedaris. Eventually, she settled down on the dashboard.

We didn't stay long, but it was a pleasant interlude.......Annie, me, and David Sedaris in the cozy car, apples occasionally falling on the roof.

Monday, October 06, 2008

For Gillian (1975 - 2001)

The horses are gone now
What memories they leave
Whippoorwill Aurora: the first light
Streaks of gold in the barnyard

What memories they leave
The Whippoorwill Morgans
Streaks of gold in the barnyard
Bays glistening in late-day sun

The Whippoorwill Morgans:
Such strength, such heart
Bays glistening in late-day sun
Everything my daughter wanted

Such strength, such heart
In a lovely young girl
Everything I wanted for her
And the woman she became.

In a lovely young girl’s dream,
Her Morgans carried her,
And the woman she became,
Above fear, above pain.

Her Morgans carried her far.
What memories they leave
Above fear, above pain
The horses, gone now.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Cat Caper

This really made me laugh. I’ve been wondering where Pogo sleeps in the afternoon. He hasn’t been in his basket, and I haven’t seen him on the living room chair. Then yesterday I bent down to straighten out the dog bed by the fireplace, and found that it suddenly weighed a ton. Pogo had gotten inside it! The bed isn’t sewn together; I fastened it with Velcro. Somehow he opened it up and got in. Such an enterprising cat!

Just now when I went into the living room to turn on the light, I saw the dog bed moving. I’m glad I already knew why.