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It seems the butterflies like to play in the sunlight over the lawn below, and we don’t know whether these pretty flutters are dying agonies, mindless bio-calculations, or songs of bliss. The closer we look, the less we know. Pin the wings, split the soft cockpit, and you will not find a single spark, will not hear a shriek, or a sigh of relief. Follow the delicate plumbing. Take it apart, and explore the space between each sub-atomic particle. You will find nothing more than what you already know: There is a thing we apprehend as random dance in light.
We landed at the Italian Bistro because it was there, on the corner, across the street. Lisa pointed to it. It was an easy turn from the corner where we were headed, which was closed, which was an easy change in direction from the place I had originally intended to go, which I overshot by a block or two when parking. I had never eaten at the Italian Bistro, Grubo Bueno or something. Half the restaurants on the street had names in foreign languages. Half the restaurants on the street would be out of business by November in any year.
The gaping chronicle runs up the side of the hill, his arms flapping loosely as if they were empty jacket sleeves. His head is round. His eyes are round. His face is featureless, screwed onto his body at an angle, and part of his head is missing. His legs are thin. Stick fingers. As you look at him, you realize he is only a line figure, an outline of a person, struggling up the hill. He has no real muscle. The missing part of his head contains no real brain. Yet he staggers on. He appears to feel real pain.
Today is my grandson’s birthday. I haven’t seen him for a couple of years. He has been disappeared. The last time he was disappeared, he was gone for six years, before his mother called saying he was asking questions about his father, asking if I knew how she could get in touch with his father. I gave her the number. I knew the father had been looking for them anyway. These things are not ever so simple as they seem. There are answers, I know, but the answers always have unintended consequences. To see my grandson, I must see far.
Tomorrow is my son’s birthday. I bought him a present, and called to see when I could bring it. He, of course, wanted to know what he could get me for my birthday, which is about two weeks off. I honestly can think of nothing I want.
This is only partly true. There are several things I want very much, but a son cannot bring them to me. I want clarity of vision and purpose in my life. I want to see beyond want. I have already so many gifts I have not opened. I should open some of them.
I don’t know how long I was gone this time. My seeker plant sculpted itself as if by wind and hauled on over the edge of the pot to suck moisture from the Aloe. That would normally take about three to five weeks. It will take me a while to get the seeker back into its pot. I’m not sure I’ll be able to save the friendly Aloe. I should not have left them so close together. I didn’t know I was going. That’s no excuse, I know. I never know. I get pulled without notice. It’s in the contract.
I am in a daze this morning. It is not unusual for me to be in a daze in the morning. I know I wake up slowly unless my full attention is required for some activity of “greater commerce.” Lisa has taken Zoe to the grocery store. She says that she has decided to switch her shopping day to Thursday from Friday. She schedules things by the week this way. I want to ask her about this. Although I never had one myself, I think I understand the concept of a shopping day. I am curious about the switch though.
Lisa runs her schedule in her mind by the week, where I run my schedule in my mind by the day. I am thinking how as a Project Manager work I used to run multiple schedules over multiple interlocking timeframes. My focus was very different. My sense of time was different. In a way, I was actually allowed to understand time as more than a linear thing. I was able to see it with a beginning and an end. I was allowed to see it moving in multiple dimensions at once and to observe its past and future perfect selves.
I don’t know; I may have made a mistake. I came in to write. I strapped myself to the writing chair and put on the headphones. I started the timer and pulled up the word processor before I realized my feet were cold. Well, they are not actually cold, but they are—well, a pair of socks would be nice. But I have started writing. Once you start getting up and doing this and that once you have started writing…well, that is a bad habit to get into. I may have to sit here for seventy-two minutes with cold feet.
So I am left in the writer’s box with cold feet. They are dangling in the air over the end of the worn blue Lazy Boy that I inherited from my son, the older one. A large garbage bag is stuffed on a shelf on the wall behind me. It has a blue label on it: Socks. From my other son. Both sons have taken turns living in this room, and it happens that my most recent cleaning and packing has left a bag of socks on the wall not too far away. So easy to fix the cold feet.
The butterflies like to play in the sunlight over the lawn below. I don’t know; I may have made a mistake. I moved my writing operation into the spare bedroom where I cannot see the sunlight or the lawn below, where I cannot see the butterflies. And I have cold feet. But the weather is getting cooler. However, this is a decision I made, and it is important to embrace both the intended and the unintended consequences of our actions. One could write a history of the unintended consequences of man. They are easier to see in the historical perspective.
I use Google as a home page, and recently I selected a fractal theme as the background. I find it soothing for some reason. The patterns remind me of the patterns I used to make when I took notes while in college. I doodled, sort of, on my note paper. I’m not really sure. I then transcribed the notes with a typewriter so I could study.
But my thought here was to use a fractal pattern for writing 100 words. Problem is that I have already done that one. Actually a lot of my writing is based on fractal patterns.
Even though I am in the writing room, the butterflies are playing in the sunlight over the lawn. Snow lizards are slipping over the moguls, and night shadows are playing strange games in the trees.
Writing is what I do here; nowhere else. I do it here, and while I am here the snow lizards pause on a slight rise while the red-spotted one flicks out his tongue to pick a butterfly out of the sunlight, and then he moves on into the night shadows with his mate, the blue-spotted female, and they strut together under a small wooden fence.
I meant to write something about grief today. I had finished the first sentence. It compared grief to a shirt that you had to wear until it fell off of you, but I quickly realized that that only got to one component of grief, although it was a component that I find perhaps most unsettling: This bird perches on your chest as long as it wishes, and it doesn’t sleep. It eats at its own pace, and unlike the crows at the freeway kill; it is not frightened off by passers by. This bird has deep eyes and a cold soul.
I think it was the first time the word “chronic” had been pointed at me in quite that way. It was about two months ago, and ever since the idea has been growing, although I am still not sure what to do with it. It is perhaps, though the first time after 40 years of ongoing treatment that it occurred to me that I wasn’t going to get “well,” that I was what I was.
I don’t know. When you get down to close inspection, it seems that the distance between me and anyone else just isn’t that much farther.
Life is more complex than we are aware most of the time. I suspect to begin to comprehend it is to open your soul beyond the point of recovery. Yet we are given this ability to look at things a certain way, and certainly we have the means to try to wrap our brains around things they were not meant to be wrapped around. Of course we also have the ability and means to insert a .45 slug into our own brain. Some things which we are able to do, we should not do. How to know which is which?
The butterflies on the lawn in the sunlight. I saw them again this morning. The little white milk butterflies. They are wizards from another time, unbound by the limits of that dimension, by the limits of my perception, and they travel the paths between the stream in the glen and the mountain incessantly. Back and forth they go, engaged in their own serious game of computer- less war craft. Zoe caught one a couple days ago. He was very weak. I distracted her into letting him go. Or perhaps it was some magic of his tricked me to trick her.
The writing room is a success. I got something right, perhaps by accident, but then I know something about how these things work. You see this particular chair is old and broken down in places. The stuffing in worn so that in the second notch of recumbence it presses just so in the spine catching the third chakra of the prana yanna yabba dabba doo releasing appropriate spiritual goo.
This is to say my brain has been trained so that when I sit here, it starts writing, regardless of what it was doing before. Writing becomes the distraction, the interruption.
At night the fireflies weave across the fields and marshes, among the tallest trees. Even off my balcony, three floors above the ground, they effortlessly call to one another. Well there is one, who doesn’t come this far. He stays close to the ground, preferring to crawl on dandelion stems. This firefly is afraid of heights. It makes him dizzy just to think of the others up there, so high in the air, such distance and weight of air beneath them. He doesn’t even care for very tall dandelions. He considers the breeze between the blades of grass. He blinks.
Michael Jr. calls as I sit down to write. He is calling from the house. I answer the phone thinking I need to update my dial numbers. But, what for?
“Dad, can you print me off directions to Cedar Point?”
“Sure, drive to Ohio and turn left. You can’t miss it. They won’t let you.”
“Ok, I’ll stop by in about fifteen minutes and pick them up.”
“Did you get the Apartment?”
“Oh, it only cost $40 dollars to get in, and we are going with some friends.”
“But did you get the apartment?”
But he has already hung up.
I am left with the uneasy feeling that I broke something today, or did something wrong. I don’t know what it was. Lisa mentioned when we stopped at McDonalds that she thought I was going to have a long day. It was one of those where you order breakfast and they tell you they have stopped serving breakfast, and you can’t find anything else on the wall you really want to eat. You want breakfast, and then little pieces of your brain start flaking off like confetti. You leave a trail on the way to the napkins with your coffee.
I start the day differently today, eating first, and then showering. I am drifting over lives past. I am a balloon floating over a landscape of memory. Barbed hooks reach up to grab at me, to hold me, and then to release me to the next set. I reach for the phone and call Matthew and Susan. I’ve not spoken with them for nearly two months now. They have just returned from a bicycle ride. Matthew is doing better, but he is not well. I can hear it in his voice. We agree to meet on the 27th if possible.
I walk to the video store for my paycheck. I’m not expecting much today, but they have paid a bonus and I have extra hundred dollars in the check. Looking at my schedule for next week I notice I am scheduled for ten hours. Brian, the manager is nearby, and explains there will be more hours in the near future. “Fifteen?” he asks. “I could almost do twenty…” I begin. “No you can’t,” he says. “You get crabby when you do twenty.” I tell him that is very perceptive of him. I start to come apart when I work twenty.
My second son calls, lost on his way to Cedar Point, Ohio, and asking for directions. I don’t know where he is at, so I can’t help him very much except to encourage him to look for the Ohio Turnpike. My first son calls with a different problem. He and his girlfriend are having trouble getting approved for an apartment. Much like the second son, he is asking for directions, and I cannot figure out exactly where he is at. I suggest that he try looking for a small privately owned rental. This time, something not like the Ohio Turnpike.
My older son calls me at work. “You were right,” he says. “I took your advice, and it worked.” I’m thinking how many parents live to hear these words. Apparently he has found a place to live, a duplex from what I can gather from the short call, but I am at work and I cannot talk very long. I promise to call him back tomorrow, which is now today. I am interested in the details, particularly as to whether this is really a place to live or just a prospect. I remember someone once described me as a prospect.
I am still in my robe this morning, bare feet hanging over the edge of the writing chair. A woodpecker knocks on the side of the building. Drifting into a dream I find we have moved into a place that is so small there is nowhere for me to write, so I have to go to a local café or library every morning. I wind up at the café because it is closer. I argue that the money I spend on buying coffee there would pay for a larger place, but I realize that I am only talking to myself.
I have written in basements before, but never in a café. Well, maybe once or twice, but never as a steady diet. I find my stories and poems begin to cling to the people who work in the café and the people who frequent the café. The catch on their clothing like burrs in the woods and are carried out the door into their lives that way, out into the sun, out into the cold. My own life has less and less meaning and my imagination is filled more and more with these other people with whom I rarely speak.
They were supposed to come replace the toilet this morning at 9 o’clock. I have to write 9 o’clock because the colon button on my laptop has died. That, I suppose, is fodder for a different 100 words. I knew from previous experience they would not come. At 9 o’clock. They might not even come today. Actually, the toilet doesn’t need replacing. I suspect that it is just the seal between the two parts, but I believe there is a considerable black market in the states now for the older style toilets with the larger tanks which are now illegal.
Well, yes the colon button has stopped working on my laptop. The “I” button no longer functions quite right either. I have some obvious and some less obvious remedies for these problems. There is the new computer remedy, but that is more difficult that it sounds because you have to get or move software, and it seems the cost of the software can exceed the cost of the computer. The time involved can be considerable too. I could get another keyboard, but I am not sure how an external keyboard would work with a laptop actually used on a lap.
Once, as a young man I lived in a rented house on the old West Side of Ann Arbor. I was very young, and somehow I wound up with the entire house to myself. I adored the house. It was one of those houses with magical properties. I invited a young couple I knew to share the house with me. They either had a baby or one on the way, or needed housing. Things didn’t work out between us. I don’t remember exactly what, but I moved out eventually. They were stronger, or more important it seemed; so I moved.
Yesterday was my birthday all over again. I argued with The Crone as to whether it was one or two years ago that the thing happened. The Crone was adamant that it was two years. I couldn’t see how it could have been two years ago that the thing happened that didn’t happen that I can’t think about anyway. It may be if you hold a thing a certain way, time is able to slip in and around it more easily without notice, without touching the thing, so it will not hurt, I mean if you hold it—just so.
The Tip Jar