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I seem to be covered in sleep this morning. I am slimed with it like one of those science fiction victims you see in the movies. Why DID I wake up at 4:00 this morning. Why did I then get up? I wear this sleep like a shaggy camouflage coat, but I will not be sharp-eyed shooting from this coat. Do I take the nap? I am of two minds. Do I make the second pot of coffee, and this time make it real coffee with an eat-the-bottom-out-of-a-tin-pot vengeance? Iím leaning toward the nap. It is not my normal choice.
Dell sent me an email telling me they shipped my laptop early. They say I should expect it by Wednesday rather than next Monday. I am happy to hear this as my Gateway is slipping away on me, and I donít know how much longer I can hold it together. It is to the point where Iím not sure it is good enough to give away to some needy person such as my son who sold it to me in the first place two years ago for $300. Somehow it seems wrong to return it in a state of decay.
I am living alone now. I can tell because I hear things I would normally never hear. I hear the wind moving outside and cars passing by outside. I hear people come into the building, moving to other apartments. I hear the ringing in my own ears.
There is some dispute about my living alone. My sister says I have lived alone for many years now. I donít think thatís true. I think I have rarely been really alone, and that Iím not very good at it. I could get a book from the library perhaps, ďLiving Alone for Dummies.Ē
I know I have to be careful
When nursing at the perfect
Curve of the pond.
I have to go slowly
As the morning bleeds bright.
There is a need
To not take in the
Of the air all at once
Or swallow the weight of the sidewalk
Through the ball of my foot.
Iím just an excitable boy
And if the furnace turns on
At the same time the children
I need to remember to check
To remember to breathe.
Together it is too much.
Always I am manic
Wanting to suck it in.
I was up too early this morning. I would like to report that it was a wild election night responsible for my four hours sleep, but it was not. I go through cycles I suppose where I do not sleep in the mornings. I think my dreams wake me up. I think I begin having a certain kind of dream and my body reacts with increased pulse and blood pressure, little man running around flipping on the lights and setting the pilots, and I just wake up, and I am running at a level where going back is not possible.
My feet hurt. It is not a terrible pain, but it is a nuisance. Itís the new shoes. I bought new shoes because my feet were hurting. But it seems I need to break these in. Some shoes, the best ones, you donít have to break in. They feel right from the day you put them on, and you can wear them all day right out of the box. I was advised to wear these 2 hours the first day, and increase the wearing time an hour a day. I am on day three, four hours, and my feet hurt.
Hunger drives a broken rusty grader down a dry road. He does not smooth the road, but cuts it up instead, creating potholes and humps. Hunger has clear eyes on some days, taking the long view from the cab of his machine. On other days, his eyes are dull and dry sockets that dust clots with impunity. Hunger is a white-knuckled driver with clenched teeth and bleeding gums. There is something he would like to over-look, but he cannot pass. This lump of sullen machinery moves at its own speed. The line of cars behind will have to go around.
Fat and Happy are walking through the local mall, holding hands. Happy wears sprayed-on blue jeans with pockets perfectly curved over her ass. Fat wears a t-shirt that is sucked into his loose Dockers. He reaches his left hand around trying to get it into the perfectly curved pocket. He cannot reach. They have stopped to look at a movie poster. Happy is talking about another movie she saw, not the one in the poster. She bounces shoulders with Fat, smiling at his attempt to reach across to her pocket. She isnít going to let go of his right hand.
Grief is shrieking, her head jerking back again and again, hair flying like dark ribbons. Shoved to her knees, locked down, and blind, Grief is throwing herself against the glass door wall only to clutter, thud and fall where she beats against it with her small fists, angry that it did not break.
Grief sits now, folded over, wondering when the pain will stop. It doesnít make sense. It should have stopped by now.
Grief wears herself out and falls asleep on the floor. Hours later she wakes up staring down the threads in the carpet. She does not move.
Journey has his thumb out. It is a beautiful day, and he has taken his jacket off and slung it over his shoulder. He was just going to Urbana, the county seat, but now he is no longer sure how far he is going. It occurred to him that he has his credit cards, and his Palm, and there was no need for him to go back home in the near future. He could just keep walking, all the way to the ocean. A car zips by and then pulls over to the side. Brake lights. The adventure has begun.
Distress has fallen over and canít get up. Her parasol has rolled out of reach partway down the hill she was climbing, and her cell phone was looped on its handle. She canít even call anyone for help. Her skirts are hooped and fluffed so wide that her feet wave uselessly, pointing to the sky. Even worse, she has fallen so that her head is downhill from her feet. The blood is rushing to her brain. She feels dizzy. She is sure to get sunburn. She feels so awkward. What if someone comes over the hill looks up her dress?
Envy is a little guy who wants a fight. He struts, back and forth, shaking his head because his opponent will not engage him. He taunts, ďWhatís the matter, you scared?Ē His little heart is beating quickly. His fists are balled up in his pockets. He wants this fight. He knows he can take the bigger guy. He intends to use his feet and he is wearing heavy work shoes. The big guy is slow and doesnít see well. Everyone knows the big guy has no coordination, and he is too smart for his own good. Envy will show him.
Junior and his girlfriend Thai stopped by last night to borrow a cup of Internet. They wanted to download some music for the mp3 player I had given him in a fit of generosity. I have a lot of those. They stayed for movie and a pizza. Well, yes, it was a bribe. But when they saw Kung-Fu Panda on the TV stand, they were up for it. I enjoyed the Panda movie. I actually had a belly laugh at one point. I hadnít expected to find it entertaining at all. There is something to be said for low expectations.
Old Ketchup clings casually to the neck of the ketchup bottle, hanging by one long arm to the ridge just below the cap. He looks like an old bloody booger. He used to worry about drying up and becoming old ketchup when he first found himself outside of the bottle, but he has grown accustomed to the idea. He basks in sunny memories of being a ripe tomato hanging out in the field. Leaning back against the bottle, he can remember the smell of the soil and the heat from the sun on his back. Heís OK with Old Ketchup.
Wistful is sitting on a dock of the bay dangling his legs over the wooden edge. He is wearing blue jeans and a dark t-shirt. The knee of one jean is worn down to horizontal threads only. One of them has snapped. His hands are folded halfway between his thighs and knees. He is looking out over empty blue water with large rocks lining the shore as it bends out on his right. Reflected in his blue eyes is a sloop under sail. He swings his legs above the water absent-mindedly. His eyes are slowly sinking behind the horizon.
Iíve been going through my CD collection and storing those I want on a computer, so I can store the physical CDís away. Using a lossless algorithm, I can get them on the server at about 400k each, and they play back over my network at a quality that I cannot distinguish from the original CD. The process is slow because, of course, I have to listen to them one at a time to decide whether they go on the server or not. A lot of these are CDís I made from my LPís. So this is their second transition.
As I am moving my music onto the computer, it occurs to me that CDís are becoming obsolete. It will take a while, but music, text, and movies, like most of my writing, are becoming digital files floating around on servers. When computers disappear, all the music and words disappear. This is argument for printing everything out. A good stock of paper seems to survive. I donít know if all these computer files will. Right now, in terms of format, they seem to be good for maybe ten years before they become unreadable because of changes and evolution in software.
They called me last night to tell me my friend Matthew died. He succumbed to liver duct cancer. Matthew actually has several months completed on 100 Words. He is gone, or dissolved, or transitionedówhatever happens to us. I think he was looking for a transition. I find I miss him. I miss his friendship, and I miss his presence in the world. There is a remembrance for him around the middle of December. I will probably attend. I am unsure. What do you say to his sons, to his wife? I donít know. What do you say to Michael?
Reckless Abandon went jogging this morning wearing lemon yellow shorts and thermal underwear. It was cold. Setting his stopwatch outside his apartment, he launched himself from a starting position without warming up. Running two blocks, he streaked across the road without looking and into the cemetery. At this point we ask what I meant by that. Did Reckless go jogging in the cemetery, or is that a metaphor for Reckless being killed by a passing automobile? I didnít plan to kill Reckless when I started this, but what else can you do with a character with a name like that?
Rivalry is saddled up and ready. He can feel the tight creaking of the leather beneath him. He presses his feet against the stirrups, testing his weight. He is heavy. The sixteen-foot lance alone weighs close to sixty pounds. The armor goes another eighty pounds. He is sweating through his teeth. He looks hard toward his opponent, but he cannot see him well because of the limited opening in his helmet. The opponentís horse prances in and out of his field of vision. Rivalry is anxious, but he has no doubt he will win. He has right on his side.
Jealousyís face is smeared with red paint. He is in costume for the play, but he is the understudy. He stands around wearing a short skirt of armor with his hairy legs hanging out. He peeks through a slit in the setís venetian blinds to watch. The leading man is holding Jealousyís woman. And he is doing it all wrong, that Rhett Butler thing went out of style years ago. Doesnít he know anything? Why is she looking at him like that anyway? Jealousy looks away, but something draws him back, back to the scene where he is cruelly stabbed.
Compassion lives in a state of hyper awareness. He has to move and think deliberately, because he has so much to hold in his mind. You see him in the mall, and he looks like anyone else wearing baggy pants and a leather jacket, but he has a way of looking through you. It is not that he doesnít see you. He sees all of you at once. Compassion eats your sins without your knowing it. His presence is like a mental caress. You feel better standing near him, although you donít know why. Dogs and children follow him home.
It is raining,
Cold and lazy,
Softening the snow, and
Clarifying the hard ice hanging long from the eaves.
Out on the pond the ice has become
A thick glassy layer
You can see through to the water below,
Clear through to the muddy bottom where the carp are working,
Plowing long furrows,
Digging up frogs.
Sleeping, the frogs have been dreaming
Of spring reeds and warm nights.
Now their dreams are shifting,
Shifting to cold water spines, whiskers,
And full-body hungry muscle twists.
Their dreams are shifting to cold water gulps
And the soft muddy taste of dreaming frogs.
Anxiety, how could I have not done anxiety before? Anxiety cold in the junkieís shoes fluttering down an empty street and canít get warm. Anxiety popping in and out of focus, wringing his hands, while pieces of him like slats in a venetian blind seem to move randomly to the left or right. Dissolving in a puddle of self-regard Anxiety has been gut shot for the twelve dollars he didnít have in his wallet and has been left head banged on the sidewalk praying for it to end quickly. But it wonít end, because to Anxiety, there is no end.
Pregnancy lies partially on her side, in her underwear, smiling into the camera. She is glowing, caught in the lens and her own eye shine. She is balanced in time and confident in the knowledge that she is queen of all she might even consider surveying, and perhaps a little more. She stays there for a moment, soaking in the perfection. For now, she has banished the wolves of uncertainty and lower back pain. Watching the ceiling now, she doesnít want to get up, doesnít want to shift the balance. She wants to keep her joy a little bit longer.
Mourning breaks over the horizon. The extra letter takes us all by surprise as we watch the colors grow dull and cold in the sky. We watch her for a while before we realize that something is wrong. Then she strikes. We are divided into two groups. One group Mourning stakes out inside a fenced compound and tortures relentlessly. The other group is allowed to wander the outside of the compound, but is not allowed to look in or hear the screams of those inside. This outer group is confused and partially blind, running into one another and perpetually apologizing.
Trouble in Mind is hugging his guitar and singing the blues. Trouble lives in a nice place, drives a new car, and has all the money he needs. Still, he dwells on his troubles, so he is downcast and full of sorrow most of the time. His big blue eyes well with tears as he considers his problems. Beautiful women cannot resist him and throw themselves at him. This makes him even more sorrowful. Today he is writing another song of woe. He has a new and difficult problem. He cannot decide which limo to take to his concert tonight.
I can see Iím on another of my word kicks, but why am I focusing on so many negative emotions? This month Iíve done Hunger, Distress, Envy, Rivalry, Grief, Pain, Wistful, Jealousy, Anxiety, Mourning, and Trouble in Mind. Sure, Iíve done Fat and Happy, Pregnancy, and Compassion (I donít know about Old Ketchup), but the overwhelming bent is negative.
Actually, I have been taking most of the words off a list of emotions I found in Wikipedia. The list starts with negative stuff, so that is where Iíve been working. I guess I should skip ahead to something more positive.
Lament is limping, one blue-jean covered half rump lifting conspicuously with each step. His whole body is rigid as he walks, leaning to the left against the pain. His face is focused. His gaze is fixed on the ground six feet ahead of him. The thing is that Lament is not lame. There is nothing wrong with his feet, legs, or back. The problem is in his head. Oh, the pain is real. Lament is in great pain emotionally. His mind is a bright flash of grief. This awkward limp is how his body had chosen to express his pain.
Delight is a sparkle of surprise running on feet so fast and light that she seems to disappear between peals of laughter. Delight is dancing through a cemetery over snow on the coldest night of winter and she exclaims with wonder at the way the moonlight plays off the marble, at the touch of the snow against her shoes, at the creaking sound your steps make in the icy pack as you try to follow her. Itís so cold; doesnít she want to go in? No, oh no, not yet. Just a little longerÖoh! Just look at the Christmas tree!
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