I called my daughter, leaving her a message about the rabies certificate.† I did have backups for bathing Chey.† There was the throw-the-tennis-ball-in-the-lake trick. I could take her into the shower with me.† Both of these worked to a degree. Daughter called me back however promising to fax the certificate to the groomer.† So it was back to Pet Provisions who made me a 4 pm appointment and gave me the number which I sent to daughter.† I picked the clean dog up at 6 pm, and at† 8 pm the dog was wallowing in the koi pond out back.†
I am a little dizzy this morning. It may be that I waited too long to eat my breakfast. It may also be an inner ear thing.† I try to not pay it much attention. We humans are plagued with so many ongoing limitations and distractions to our perception, it is a miracle that we see anything at all. We see very little, yet we see so much.† We are given to understand so little and again so much.† We glimpse; we stumble; we intuit; we guess. In the end the true worth is that we have been at all.
Iím starting a new job.† I am of two minds about it.† But then I am of at least two minds about practically everything.† Do I keep the dog? Do I sell the house?† Do I take a nap?† And every point gets nearly equal weight.† Yes, it is sometimes difficult to move at all. Is this a bad thing?† I am not sure.† It may have its good points.† Yet, the point of life is movement. I have to keep this in mind as a kind of prime directive.† A small note posted near my bed to remind me.
Today is my motherís birthday.† Oh Look!† There goes the mail person! I wonder if I got anything, besides junk mail that is.† I called her this morning, my mother, and sang happy birthday to her.† She said I have a lovely voice. I have heard that someone copyrighted the song and companies now have to make up their own version if they want to sing it. I would have thought it public domain by now.† I could look it up on the internet. There is a site for that.† What is it?† Snopes?† Well, Snopes says it is true.†
There is a strange noise coming in my window, like a giant popcorn popper across the street. I cannot figure out what could be making such a noise unless it is a combination of a nail-gun, large flapping pieces of plastic, and an antique tractor. Maybe it is a giant tree-munching insect crawling this way. I look off into the distance across the tree tops to see if they are swaying, but they are not. Later, walking Chey the Border Collie out that way I see a large house being re-roofed and an old Fordson tractor mowing a near-by field.
As I sit here in this room, I cannot come to terms with the idea that this house is worth what it costs to keep it afloat over time, but for reality.† Over time, it has proven to be cheaper to live in than any apartment or condo half its size despite all its seeming white elephantness.† And to cap it off, financial projections I have done for it, show it will continue to be the most economical way for me to live over the next 20 Ė 40 years knowing what I know now.† It is just hard to believe.
I have just finished eating breakfast.† I have not gone on to the next step because the stuff inside me has reached the boiling over point such that I must take the pot off the stove, the lid off the pot, or turn the heat off, or stir the damn mess or somewhat.† I paw around for my Ativan, and I canít find it.† It is on that dangly silver bottle on my car keys so I wonít lose it.† But I have lost it, so this means that later I will not be able to find my car keys.†
At some point I climb stairs and find the stock bottle in the bathroom and take one out of there, swallowing it with a root beer that I am drinking because I am confused about what I can and cannot drink.† I close my eyes and the dark birds flutter, their wings scraping the insides of my belly my chest and my head.† I can feel them scraping at my throat. If I lift my head and open my mouth they will come flying out in a great cloud of fluttering and whirling pinfeathers, scratching claws and bird shit, a dark vortex burning a hole through the ceiling, through the roof †into the sky and the neighbors will lift their eyes to one another and say, ďHe is screaming again.Ē
I hit the Write button. A command is returned: ďContinueĒ. I am coloring outside the lines.† I have been here before, wavered here before.† Wandered chicken-shit all over the road, but I donít think I have been on this particular one before. †Yet it looks familiar.† I stop the car and get out.† I can hear the door closing, crisp behind me, the clatter of the engine at idle. I can hear my boots on the blacktop as I walk across the bright yellow line and stoop.† A bird cries from a fence row and swoops off across the field.
I could not find my Ativan, the noon dose.† I keep it on my car keys so I can find it and I couldnít find it even though I had a clear memory of dropping the keys on my pants before I went to bed.† But that memory, as clear as it was, proved false, or at the very lease superseded, or old, or useless, and I was climbing the stairs looking for the stock bottle, taking the Noon dose with Root Beer.† This is when they start fluttering.† This is when the migration started, when it finally broke loose.
I remember seeing briefly in the mirror someone younger than I had remembered. The last time I had seen someone in the mirror he had been older and he had come to that point where there is nothing left for him to do but wait quietly for his time to die. There are some who have thoughts of retiring to Florida, Spain, or Northern France, while their bodies decay and their brains slowly sublimate into the clear air. But it doesnít matter.† The process is the same. The only uniquity is what comes out of you, if anything at all.
Now I feel the Ativan working, putting the dark flock slowly back to sleep.† Each time there are more of them.† I know that one time a silly Ativan will not be enough to stop them.† A whole bottle of Ativan will not stop them.† They will burst bloody out of my body taking the roof off, blowing out windows and what will the neighbors say then because they will barely have time to register surprise before the dark mass of wings lift them off their own feet and the scream they might have heard would have been their own.
Ethan writes that he never thought he would make it to thirty. He then kills a man in a single sentence.† He introduces, lives with, and lets a man die in a single sentence of twenty-five words or less. I never had any doubt of living to be thirty.† I never had any doubt of sixty or ninety.† My doubts were of 101 and 115. I am not completely sure of the triple digits, and in truth, I am no longer as sure of ninety as I once was.† I am more aware of things than I used to be.
It seems to me that writing is an exercise in narcissism.† If so, it should not surprise me that Ethan wrote, or that Matthew wrote. It does surprise me that Dean did not write and that I do write.† Yet I am, for all my self abuse, chronically self-absorbed. What is this thing?† What makes it work?† Why does it function?† Why does it appear to not function correctly?† I do not worry about why you do not appear to function correctly. I assume you are functioning correctly. I assume Ethan, Matthew, and Dean even, on the whole, functioned correctly.
It seems that there are two types of writers. There are those who assume they function correctly and those who assume they do not.† Those who assume they function correctly often point their pens outward, describing others and frequently finding these others do not function correctly.† Their assumption that they function correctly, coupled with an observation that they are different, leads them to conclude that others do not function correctly.† Writers who assume they do not function correctly often turn inward trying to sort out their dysfunction.† Again, they have observed that they are different. They want to know why.
No it is not 61 that surprises me. It is not living in this house, nor is it writing these strange letters to you that surprises me.† It is not the strange almost inexplicable financial independence that surprises me.† Is it being alone that surprises me?† I donít think it is.† I think that I expected this too.† I cannot really honestly envision an alternative.† Sometimes I dream I am with someone.† I did last night.† Yes, now I remember the alternative vision. There is someone in the alternative vision.† I am living somewhere else.† I am writing something else.†
I met Ethan once or twice really.† I did not know Ethan. I didnít know much about Ethan except what I gleaned through a stoned haze of Deanís perceptions. Our names, all three of them were on a mailbox once, although the three of us never lived at the house at the same time.† I remember pestering Dean to join Ethanís ďT-Groups.Ē† I was not sure what they were.† At the time, I thought ďTea-GroupĒ was what Dean was saying, and it was Deanís suggestion I join.† Iím not sure if Ethan had real credentials or not to lead them.
Later, of course, I had plenty of opportunity for group therapy, and I still donít know if it was beneficial.† In retrospect I suspect that Dean and Ethan laced theirs with drugs and used them as opportunities to pick up girls.† This is a different Ethan, this small sadly deteriorated 72-page booklet Susan gave me the day I drove to Grosse Pointe to help sort out Matthewís things.† Of course there was more there than we could sort out. We couldnít even sort each other out.† Every book, every paper, every trinket would require its own quest, its own mission.†
I donít know how well Matthew knew Ethan. Matthew was better at knowing people than I was.† The book was titled ďWhite Bird Flies to Phoenix/Confessions of A Free Clinic Burn Out.Ē† The cover cartoon showed a Buck Rogers-style space ship.† Balloon text speech ďWeíre through them, Lad but it looks bad.Ē† And ďTheyíre on our Tail now!Ē††† The book was published in í73 in Eugene Oregon, which explains a lot. This, I believe is where Ethan had gone when he left Ann Arbor, when I moved into the house on Ashley where Ethanís name was still on the box.
Itís a damp and somewhat gloomy day outside today.† My pants are in the dryer and I am hungry.† I could eat a small snack. I donít need to eat big.† I was thinking of a salad, and I keep putting off the salad because I donít want to eat big, but it occurs to me I can eat small salad.† I decide to do that for now. Greens.† A little grilled chicken.† Some apple.† Nuts. But all in a small scale.† By the time I am done there my pants may be dry and I can walk the dog.†
At some point to day, I need to prepare for my tutoring session tonight.† I decide to fix the salad.† The first box of greens I pull is starting to melt, so I open the second one.† I put a piece of frozen chicken in a covered bowl with some seasoning and pop it into the microwave while I slice up a piece of apple and shred some cheese over the greens. I add some walnuts and some craisins. Then I tong out the chicken and scissor it up over the salad, and pop open a can of root beer.
Looking out the kitchen window, I see the rain is still falling.† The hill is beginning to look like jungle.† I go downstairs to check my laundry.† My pants are still wet.† Clock says Iíve got about two hours left before I have to begin preparing in earnest for my tut.† I could probably go into it with no prep, but it is better to have a script. I just do a better job. I maintain better control.† I like to go in with a script that will work if they have done the homework or if they have not.
I donít know what caused the accident. But you donít intentionally cross a freeway twice with no warning, crash into a guardrail, and then head-on into the concrete median barrier.† And if you have no exact memory of what caused the transition between when you were a competent driver and when you became a passenger, what can you say to the police? The left front tire and wheel looked wonky and someone suggested that as a possibility. †So I said, ďI think the left front tire went.Ē† But I gotta tell ya, after that trip, the whole car looked wonky.
You ask with bewilderment where the past three months has gone.† It has gone to the acceleration of time. Relativity my dear. I hypothesize that time compresses in direct proportion to the amount of time we have experienced. Three months to a 60-year-old is 6 months to a 30-year-old is one year to a 15 year-old and so on. The summer that lasted forever when you were 9 lasted only ľ as long at 36. Should we live to be 120, it would not seem like so much. Not only is life short; it is much shorter than we think.
Having crashed my car, I have to buy a new one.† Most people think this a good thing.† I do not. I donít like buying cars.† I liked my old car.† I did not want it towed away.† I do not want to spend the next two weeks thinking about what kind of car to buy, and such things.† It means I have to make decisions and that I have to live with those decisions until I crash the next car.† Yes, I am a terrible driver.† It seems every car I have gets taken away to the junk yard.
Iíve been working my new job two weeks now. I donít know whether Iíve mentioned it. I am an ESL tutor for a provider in Korea, working from my home in Michigan.† Yes, it is one of those fabled pajama internet jobs. Yes Soo Yung, they do exist. Yes, most of them are scams to get your bank account numbers. No, this one is for real, and they actually send you money instead of stealing it from you.† I found I was uniquely qualified for this job because I had a Masterís degree in English, and I had a computer.
The sun is lovely today. And a perfect breeze moves through the windows, stopping to play with the chimes.† The days seem a little too short since I took on the new job, and this is a cause for some second thoughts.† But then there are few jobs that do not come with second thoughts.† It seems they all come with the frenetic politics and the need to bleed.† It is not enough to do your work with craftsmanship and devotion. You must market your act of bleeding.† Your marketing must be of a high quality. Otherwise, you are harassed.
I have twenty minutes, and I set the chimes up and listen to myself say good morning to Lou.† Itís raining in Seoul. Perhaps we sent our rain over to you, I suggest.† Please explain what you mean, he demands. I stumble.† I am suggesting that we, the American people, sent our rain over to you in Korea.† Because weíve had enough of it.† Ah, he chuckles. Itís a joke, I explain. Yes, he understands now. It is all too common a joke here. He may have Chevroletís and McDonalds, but he doesnít yet have all the worn-out American jokes.
Itís the 29th so it seems appropriate to dip into my recordings from this day.† I now have an infinite supply of material for 100 wordsÖas if I didnít before.† But itís not as easy as it seems. Sunday is my day off. Well, this Sunday is.† I back up to the 27th.† I pick at random.† Yesterday she worked very hard, and today she forgot.† Do I understand?† She found an article, but she doesnít have it now.† Thatís ok. Itís ok.† Itís perfect.† What was the article about?† It was about inkreat some incha?†† Oprah?† Just a minute.
Iím very surry.† She is apologizing.† Today can we talk about another thing? We can talk about anything. All I have to do is get you to stop apologizing. I go into thought as she continues apologizing. At some point she stops.† Michael?† Yes, yes Iím here. Good morning.† Yes.† Yes, weíre going to be fine.† You found Oprah, but you donít want to talk about Oprah. I donít blame you, and then I make a mistake. I ask you to repeat your sentence.† You in return ask me to repeat my sentence.† We fall into silence, a long silence.
In time I will learn to avoid the deadly trap of asking them to repeat themselves.† I will learn to forge ahead.† I donít understand this yet. I think that every syllable must be understood perfectly. I donít know that the goal is to first get through the jungle in one piece.† Excuse me; I think you are angry, no?†† No. I am not a bit angry.† You are very silent.† No. I want you to listen very carefully. Your English is so much better than my Korean. You speak three languages. You should be proud.† I am not angry.