I hear children in the background.† I am saying it is fine if we have to struggle.† What are you going to DO this weekend?† The answer is hash.† Then this Saturday is her fatherís birthday. She wants to prepare a card for him and go to a museum.† I lose sight of her again.† And then there is the exhibition of Korean traditional painting as clear as a crystal hanging in the verbal soup.† How can some things be so garbled and other things emerge so clearly?† I look out my window at the leaves turning in the wind.
We are only slightly overwhelmed by items, decisions, and obstacles that taken individually are of little significance. This is the key to the whole mess. I am reminded of an old management tool, one of those quadrant sorting tools, where the parameters were importance and urgency.† I would find so many items dropping into the unimportant and not urgent quadrant of the chart that it would bulge and burst, and some important and urgent item would appear called, ďWhat do we do with all of these unimportant and non-urgent items?Ē† The box tips, lopsided.† The corner tears and begins leaking.
I think the tow truck is here for Michaelís car. We have both become rabid, waiting for it as the walls of the house begin to dissolve and we yell at one another and he yells at the AAA operator.† I think they poisoned us at the Coney.† Or maybe put acid in the orange juice.† I always get this way though if it gets past noon and I cannot get a shower. I need to wash the toxins off my body or I begin to reabsorb them and they drift to my brain, like the acid in the juice.
It seemed like a good idea. It was not an impulse purchase, the air conditioner for the ďmasterĒ bedroom.† I have a quad. It is an excessive extension of a questionable design in the first place: the bi-level.† I get four levels, essentially two buildings offset by about seven feet stuck together into four floors. Try heating and cooling that with a single unit.† It is a little large too, as I may have mentioned in the past, and the thought was I could turn off the main AC at night, running the smaller unit at night, and save money.
I have my doubts if these schemes to ďsaveĒ money actually ever do The air conditioner for the bedroom cost about $260. I am doubtful it will save more than $10 a month during the months it is working.† I think it may be useed three months out of the year. So we are talking a $30 pay-back per year, or approximately a 8 Ė 10 year pay back, if the thing lasts that long.† Of course we are also making a room that is possibly uninhabitable one month out of the year comfortable.† That may be worth the entire $260.
It is Sunday evening for me, but Monday morning for him, this test engineer I have called.† He tells me that yesterday, his Sunday, was his third year anniversary ofóand I hear management, although the third time I listen to this tape I begin to realize he has said marriage.† So what I said to him about most new managers failing in six months may or may not have been appropriate.† I am feeling sleepy, as I listen to myself talk to this young man who is stopped along the road somewhere in South Korea under the morning sun.
I have found that they save the recordings of the conversations for only about 30 days. This causes a little panic in me with some desire to hurry back and start storing them myself, as if something important is being lost. I wonder how I can possibly do this, with all the other things I have going on.† I listen to my friend the engineer talk about his wedding anniversary. I talk to him about the Manchester soccer team with the Korean player, Park. The engineerís voice has so much gravel in it.† He could work in a junk yard in Ohio.
Perhaps it is Yung Park who has gravel in his knee from the junk yard in Ohio, greasy gravel embedded deep below the surface that grits against the bone as he runs.† But he plays hard anyway, because that is what Park does.† My engineer with the gravel in his voice is sure that Park will sign for another two years. Half of my students are from GM, and so I have a number of engineers. Park is a topic of conversation for many of us. This conversation drifts on to Chinaís dog food bakery. Birthday cakes for your dog.
Chun Yo is explaining that he does not like dogs.† His grandmother likes dogs.† He lives in an apartment. Dogs mean noise to him.† Dogs are a problem; one that is difficult to understand.† When he was young, he liked dogs.† The dog was very smart, he explained. But the dog had fits and died.† He did not understand why the dog had fits.† He asks me about this.† I tell him there was no reason for this; that dogs are like people that way; some have fits; some do not have fits.† In people, we just call it epilepsy.
Shanghai has 800,000 pet dogs. They have recently passed a one dog per owner policy, similar to their one child policy.† I am not sure whether you can have two dogs if you have no children. I ask† Chung Ho about this, and he laughs and agrees that the policy is a good idea. I have heard dog owners live longer, but I have also heard that children make you younger.† Children do not make you younger; they kill you.† I suspect that dogs do not make you live longer either, that the study was flawed in some basic way.
Oh, Life has overtaken me somewhat it seems.† Not for the war, or even this particular campaign, but I have been beaten back on several fronts.† I have been forced into several strategic retreats.† I have taken losses.† Some of them have been questionable, due to bad judgment on my part.† I have plans however.† Eisenhower said it all.† Plans are indispensableÖand useless.† I believe I can recover.† I know in what areas I am weakest and I know how to recover ground in those.† I have stopped the retreat for now.† Still, the opposing forces are not behaving predictably.
It seemed like a good idea at first, the new job.† It was part-time.† That was good.† I had forgotten that the nature of teaching, if done right, is that there is a ratio of in-class time to out-of-class time.† I didnít pay attention to the fact that I was signing on for four-hour days of instructional time with guarantees of specific amounts of written feedback for each student and requirements of individualized curriculums for loads of approximately 30 students.† I just didnít think ahead enough to realize that this was going to translate for me into a 9-hour workday.
There seemed to be several reasons for taking the job.† It wasnít that I needed the money, not that I was immune to worrying about money.† There are few things that I am immune to worrying about.† I am an anxiety freak. ††It was about identity to some extent?† But that canít be true, because the job, like any other job has done more to trash identity than it has to create identity.† Well there was the thought that if it went to hell, I could quit any time I wanted, but that proved to not be true as well.
And then there was the inevitable realization that the simple on-line pajama ESL job was fraught with brutal, diabolical, and mean-spirited politics.† Could I have made a mistake?† I liked the work from the start.† I hated the fact that instead of taking three or four hours and leaving me nine or ten hours to live, it took nine or ten hours and left me three or four hours to eat, shower, and run to the grocery store.† Something wasnít quite right here.† I was taking too much Ativan.† Had I made a mistake?† Well yes, obviously something was wrong.
There did seem to be an obvious solution.† My work day was broken into morning and evening shifts.† Part of my problem was I couldnít finish the clean-up from the evening shift in time to go to bed and get eight hours sleep before it was time to get up for the morning shift.† The obvious solution seemed to be to dump one of the shifts.† Then I could keep the job, possibly even a four-hour job, and I could keep my sanity too.† I wouldnít make as much money, but that was the smallest of the issues it seemed.
It was 96 degrees when I finally got into the car to come home.† I had had lunch, bought a book and a pair of speakers (small ones, albeit too expensive), and I had picked up Tomís mail.† He had one post card from the dentist I believe. This was a one-week allotment of his mail.† And I was worried about my presence in the world.† The rain hit as I was nearing the freeway exit to go home.† It was a heavy-lidded downpour.† I parked the car in the garage and went inside, leaving my purchases in the car.
I am feeling very timid today.† It is like I am a thing of vapor stringing parts of a human together. Perhaps this is just the hang-over from a two-week binge of mania. It is not that much different from someone going on an alcohol bender, or taking a drug vacation.† Your body gets pumped full of chemicals it should not have to deal with; chemicals it has no way of dumping or compensating for. There must be a period where you have to replenish the ones that were used up in the attempt.† That is what it feels like.
It comes to me as I look at this white empty space that there is something here I do not want to face. †Iím not sure what it is. †I know there are plenty of things I donít want to face, and these things seem to increase as I get older rather than diminish. At some point I had fantasized older me as a time when I would come to peace with myself, when the anxiety monsters would go away.† But it seems they just have more to feed on than they once did, or fewer things to distract them.
The dogs have taken over the old house now.† This happened shortly after the front door fell off its hinges. In the morning they pour out of the house, stretching and yawning like company of soldiers wakened too early for a morning drill.† They each take their place to watch out through the fence that hides them from the road.† Three on the porch, one sitting directly in front of the door. Two more position themselves over the old well where they can soak up the morning sun.† The last three slip behind the house and down into the woods.
Crosley can feel the thing growing in his belly in the morning.† At first it is like a nausea, but then the pain takes on a different form, reaching higher into his chest cavity, stretching, clawing, and fluttering wing-like appendages. He takes another pill and closes his eyes. He is too close to becoming the great crying man thing again.† But the thing is pulling at him, choking him, trying to crawl up his neck, to fly out his mouth.† He thinks maybe if he could scream he could force it out. Push Crosley, he thinks.† It is almost here.
He had been thinking about new glasses for nearly a year now. He needed them badly.† He couldnít even read signs along the road any more.† To be sure they were expensive, but he had the money.† He had it now. If he didnít spend it, someone else would come to ask him for it, and he would give it to them.† There was nothing he could do about it. Some had eventually learned this thing about him.† They knew when his checks were due, seemed to know better than he did. He was defenseless. He would give away anything.
His therapist talked to him about ďsetting boundaries.Ē He wanted to scream at her when she used that word. He wanted to set a boundary with her. He wanted pull the scream out of his mouth, rip it from where it was rooted in his chest, leaves, limbs, roots and all, and beat her senseless with it.† She had no idea what it was about. She didnít see Howie climbing him porch on the third Wednesday of the month.† She didnít hear him working the basement door open when he refused to answer the door.† Nobody could hear him screaming.
Sometimes he thought he had chased down the screaming, had found the hiding place, the particular pain or event; but then he would just remember that it had been with him before that. It was as if the thing had been inside him trying to get out at birth, its long naked arm sliding up his throat, choking him.† It was pulling the blanket over him again.† Soon he would not be able to get out.† He tried to remember the secret.† There is always an end.† It always goes away.† Something like that; something he couldnít quite make out.
He finds it worth noting that our perceptions of reality are so widely varied.† Not only do we have sight, sound, touch, taste, and hearing.† We apprehend with a miraculous collection of other senses and combinations.† We not only see a thing; we are taken by it.† We sense its beauty, its intricacy, its worth. We experience pain and joy, sometimes unable to understand source, and sometimes unable to contain the flash of the emotion.† We dream, we sense, and we create. We push back against the wind with the forces of a thousand butterflies. We love and we cry.
Crosley knows things. He can see into the future.† He canít always see them very clearly. He is never able to affect them. He has tried.† He has tried enough to break himself with the effort, knowing ahead of time that he would break himself and that it would be futile; that it would leave him with nothing but the pain of the broken parts. The question he never asks himself is that knowing the outcome as he surely did, why did he try anyway?† It seems to me that Crosley is either a classic hero or a classic fool.
The Dance of The Wallflowers is one of the most well attended events in Brighton. It begins exactly one week before July 4 running three days as a wide-open street fair that nearly doubles the population of the township. Local ordinances for such things as camping on the sidewalk are abandoned, and many conservative surbanites let strangers camp in their yards and bathe in their pools.† The festival culminates in the performance of the Wallflowers, the tiny dance company organized and run by Julia Shiphill. This year a special stage has been constructed over the Millpond Tridge for the dance.
The man wearing the coveralls and the scarred face tending the steam engine at the Depot Days festival slipped a couple more sticks into the burner. He would have to put water in the boiler in another 20 minutes he figured, so the wood was questionable.† He was fidgety as he watched the connecting rod slapping back and forth over the drive wheel. A long belt connected it to a small carousel about ten feet away.† The carousel had four brightly-colored ponies.† He felt his steam engine was special and ought to be hooked to something besides a corn sheller.