REPORT A PROBLEM
I am about to enter words for August. August is the birthday month. It is my birthday month. It is my sonís birthday month. It is my grandsonís birthday month. This August I will turn 67. There is so much I do not remember that went before turning 67. Somehow I think being older would be easier if you could remember what came before, but most of it, clearly nearly all of it has vanished leaving only scraps in the bottom of a trunk. It is as if I have already died a thousand times, each version of me vanished.
Am I going to write something or just blast out 100 words? The opening sentence may be a hint. The sun is baking the deck this afternoon as the dog snoozes on the rug. I would have said the dog snoozes on the carpet but it seems more appropriate for the dog to snooze on a rug. Perhaps it seems less inappropriate. The dog gets up and goes into the kitchen for a drink, slurping noisily at his water bowl. He returns, lying down again with little fussing around. A bird flutters at the feeder. My eyes try to focus.
The writing machine is broken. It is not lying rusted in a weed field. It is late-model used car broken. I suppose the implication is that it could be fixed, but I am not sure how to go about it. It is a day like any other. What makes the writing machine work sometimes and not work other times. It is not that it is blocked. It is more like it is simply not there. I saw something on TV the other day about a need to recharge. But I think itís had time for that were it going to.
The guy from Detroit Edison came by to change out the electric meter this morning. He came back this afternoon when I explained that I had to work. Both times the dog tried to eat him. He was a big man with a torn and dirty shirt. It was nearly 90 and humid outside. I found him in his truck in the afternoon to ask if he was still going to change our meter out. You were worried about something; I donít know what. I was worried that he wouldnít change us out and would merely mark us as ďrefused.Ē
When the man came by to swap out the electric meter the power was off for a little bit. It reset a few things including my Bluetooth music player which will now not connect. There is a routine I can go through to connect it but it is not something I care to do just now. So I listen to Van Morrison on the laptop speakers. Laptop speakers are a lot better than they used to be. Then too your ears adjust to them fairly quickly. I will get the Bluetooth working again eventually. There are so many things due eventually.
One of the things that bother me about getting older is that I cannot remember things that happened before. What few memories I can put together are patchy and without detail like some nightmare I might have had. So I try to remember little things that happened yesterday and this morning. Heck, I cannot remember yesterday either. Yesterday was Wednesday so I must have had a piano lesson. Yes, I remember a lot more now. I played Fur Elise for my teacher. I played it from memory and was able to play all of it except for about nine measures.
You needed a new battery for your watch. It was across the street from my piano lesson, so it was an easy stop for me. The jewelry store woman was on the phone. She finished and I stated my mission asking the price for a battery. ďTen dollars,Ē she said. She asked if I would like anything to drink while I waited. I asked for a gin and tonic. She laughed taking the watch in the back. When she gave the watch back she said there would be no charge since it was the first battery I had gotten there.
There was the walk I took the day before yesterday. I walked in the heat of the day, down to Michigan Avenue and to the Sunoco station there where I checked my lottery numbers and bought a scratch-off ticket for you, tucking it into my wallet. I walked back down Clinton, past the small library and past a little girl who was having a Barbie doll garage sale. ďWould you like some lemonade?Ē she asked. ďHow much?Ē I asked her. ďTen,Ē she said. ďTen cents?Ē I asked. ďTen dollars,Ē she replied with confidence. ďI donít think so, but thank you.Ē
I think Iíve got time here, that I donít have to worry about coming up short like I did yesterday. The dog is lying on the rug, sleeping off the heat of the day, not that there is that much heat. The town is celebrating the melon festival and a steam locomotive is giving people rides up and down the tracks. I donít know what happens to the regular train traffic during the melon festival. Perhaps I could ask my neighbor Mike who is retired from the railroad. I remember my first train ride. It too was a steam locomotive.
Up and over we go our brains arranging and rearranging the supplies on the shelf. It is fun to rearrange the supplies on the shelf. It would be even more fun if we had shelves. I suppose I could give us another shelf. Up and over we go our brains arranging and rearranging the supplies on the shelves. What do we have now, perhaps four shelves? How about eight shelves? Eighty shelves? A lifetime spent rearranging supplies on eighty thousand shelves. Banks of shelves in a warehouse with clouds floating in the ceiling. Whoís going to clean up this mess?
Iím drinking my coffee, setting the cup on the stool by my chair. Iíve been trying to figure out a way to drink coffee while sitting in this chair and you figured it out for me. You just got the stool and set it there. It seems to work. I donít know if I can leave it there or if I have to move it in place every morning. That would be fine, however. I donít think I would mind moving it. Now you are out on the hill walking the dog. I think the hill was the dogís idea.
He couldnít dream. It just wouldnít work for him so he had to spend several hours each day writing things out to sort out his brain. It was not a complete solution, but it helped. It was like music, soothing out the long fibers of his restless brain. He would write the sun coming up over the hills. He would write the sounds of the birds rattling out in the brush. He would write the colors of the tomatoes ripening out on the deck. He would write the dog grooming himself as he sat in a ragged patch of sunlight.
I am hesitant to tackle the story of the spots on my screen. I could just wash it off. I have washed it off, but the spots return. Dirt is like that. It can never be completely banished. It is the opposite of death. It always returns. Some might say it is death. It is decay. I listen, my ears stretching into the distance. I think I hear the bell on the old steam locomotive that will soon come rolling down the tracks here. It too will wear out someday, the spare parts all used up, a pile of rust.
My eyes are getting fuzzy again. They actually took longer to fuzz up this morning than they usually do. The dog is snoring again. The blue jay on the rail calls. The call flies out into the air. It fills the deck. It runs down the rails. I could talk about those rails. I could talk about the red Solo cup on the small table. The flutes on its side. I could talk about the dogís wheezing snore. ďCould we bring the dog here to stay?Ē you asked. ďNo,Ē I said. You get up to kill a spider. Death lurks.
I need soothing. Everything is all jagged and jangly, useless organs dangling from ripped pieces of meat. Thatís where I live. Thatís where I am. The fan purrs softly, pushing air out one window so it will flow more usefully in through another window. I am caressed by the fan. Is this the something soothing I am looking for? This one thing? I turn on music, looking for music that is neither jagged nor jangly. It has been this way for a while now. I am turned toward one thing, one idea and I cannot find it anywhere I look.
Light cuts across tree branches. The light is alone, unaccompanied by anything else. It has little weight or substance. It shines in the treetops, rising now as the sun goes down. Shadows are striding down streets, across curb cuts and sidewalks. They are covering the cracks in the asphalt in the new house you want to move to. Those cracks will need patching, but hell there is patching aplenty to do here already. I donít know where I will find time to do anymore than I do now. I donít know where I will find strength to do any more.
Arrive when you want. Bring what you have. Carry off whatever looks interesting. Donít hesitate to break up things that are too big to fit in your car. Everything must go. Fire seems like a good word to fit in here. Great things will follow surely. Help each other. I may be busy elsewhere. Just donít go home empty-handed. Keep that in mind. Leave the door unlocked. Maybe I will make food. Nachos? Oh, I will think of something. Pearl onions and little sliced onions. Quiet, youíre being much too quiet. Realize that it may come any moment for you.
A large white truck on the other side of the park seems to attract an inordinate amount of my attention. That and the small trash basket by my side. My fingers like to stray to the basket and tilt it on its edge, spinning it like that until it falls over. I have bushy eyebrows. Have I ever mentioned that? It is only important in that it affects everything I see, placing a shadow over my vision unless I make an effort to open my eyes really wide. Then I can see the corner where the wall meets the ceiling.
Iíve done practically everything cluttering my brain. I didnít clean my glasses or clean off the spotty screen here. I didnít put the shop vac away. I havenít begun to do the things that I have mentally filed away to be done in the afternoon and it is not yet afternoon. So I have a little time. It is a day like any other and I have a little time. There are no movies on that interest us so I throw on a little mood music, John Lee Hooker. You seemed to like it when I was playing it yesterday.
I re-built the upstairs toilet yesterday. I had been dreading that job, was afraid of it actually. There are so many things that can go wrong with a toilet repair and I was doing a complete rebuild to the point where I had to remove the tank from the bowl. True to form I sweated it for a couple days before starting, reading the directions several times even though I already knew what to do, and then I set to work the way my daddy taught me to, a little piece at a time cleaning up things as I went.
I didnít catch the nerve of the toilet rebuild yesterday. It started out badly with my not realizing the flush handle was a left-handed thread. I struggled with that awhile until I sorted it out. After that it went surprisingly smoothly. I laid things out on the floor and was careful to seat seals properly before reassembling. I think it helped that I had a good rebuild kit. So many times you buy a new fill valve only to find it doesnít really work or fix your problem. This kit even had new bolts for the tank to the bowl.
The sun is starting to pop now. I am a little taken aback by the thought of how soon winter will be upon us and how bleak it can be, how bleak life would be were our complex civilization suddenly sucked away from us like oxygen being sucked out of the atmosphere. The result would be the same. Most of us would die. I watch a bird land on the rail. My brain is in that place. I donít see a bird. I see a bird skeleton and bird parts. I see millions of years of evolution pushing up birds.
The sun is starting to pop now. It is a day like any other and I have a little time here. The landsmen have finished plowing the back fields. We are hoping to get another harvest of corn in this year before the winter hits. The yield from the seed has not been good so far although we all believe it will improve as it slowly reverts back to its original stock, as much as it is able. Some changes cannot be undone. We are re-learning so many things that had been forgotten. We are mining garbage dumps, our salvation.
Iím sleepy and I think it must be the meds. My doctors have gotten me taking so many of them now and none of them will back off. I am going to have to do it on my own. I know that is frowned on but between the GP, the neurologist and the psychiatrist there are just too many pills going down my gullet. I can hardly stand up and I donít think it is old age causing this. I will probably start backing off on the psych drugs first although those will also be the first ones I feel.
Well it would be ok here were it not so warm. Itís all the heat from the drive system. You can only put so much insulation between here and there. Most of the specimen jars have dried up some leaving little gelatinous messes in the bottom, others leaving crusts to mark the high fluid lines. This is not the ending you envision when you sign up for one of these jobs. Without any rescue Iíll become one of those gelatinous messes in my suit and there doesnít seem to be much chance of a rescue. Iím way too far out.
The air is good here. I can do whatever I want within the limits of my imagination, which is more limited than I would like. I watch the bodies moving across the field below. Dressed in summer, they move in lose formation, all aiming toward the same spot, converging in a way that you would think would guarantee a line, but the line never forms. The doors seem to be wide enough to accommodate the flow. Four of those doors are propped open to let in the air and the flow of bodies. It will be a good crowd tonight.
You suggested I might want to get ice cream tonight. We toss that ball back and forth. Later tonight I will ask you where the ice cream is. You will remind me that I had an opportunity to buy some and didnít get it. I will wonder whether it is too late to get some. You will say it is too late to eat it. Really, when is it ever too late to eat ice cream? I just donít get that concept. You can get out of bed in the middle of the night for a bowl of chocolate chip.
I can play Fur Elise through to the end now. To be sure I make mistakes and play some parts too slowly, but I am doing the entire piece from memory and there is a lot going on in that piece. Now I need to get better at it. I also need to pick out a new piece to memorize. My teacher says it is close to time for me to decide whether I want to play classical music or some other style. I am not sure I understand the choice she wants me to make. Canít I do both?
This is my hour in the evening to do as I please. That seems like an odd idea since I can do as I please with the entire evening. Nevertheless I have staked out this hour to break away from the TV and do other things. It may be you staked it out for me. I am not sure. I used to spend a lot less time with the TV than I do now. So this is probably not a bad thing for me. We have a date back together at 8 oíclock. That is when I rub your feet.
I like Gato Barbieri. I have said that here before. I find it odd that I like some forms of fusion jazz. With that statement I wonder if Gato really is fusion jazz. So I Google the words Gato Barbieri and fusion jazz. I get about 80,000 hits. And the word ďfusionĒ appears in many of them, so it is not just giving me returns on Gato. The word I want to use with some fusion is clarity. I know that that seems an oxymoron, clarity and fusion. Yet some fusion jazz acts that way on my mind. A soothe.
It is August 31, the last day of August. A lot has happened this month. I wish I could remember a bit more of what it was. It is a labor for me often to remember what happened yesterday. Letís see, yesterdayÖa blank. Oh I will give me a hint. Yesterday was Tuesday. Got anything there? I am not sure but I think I spent much of Tuesday alone. Was that Tuesday? You went to visit your daughter. Tomorrow I go to have lunch with my son. We donít do so much together. That worries me a little you know.
The Tip Jar