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I am left alone with my thoughts which seem to mostly be about mortality and the time left to me. It extends like a railroad track in front of me for an uncertain length. It is overgrown with weeds and the rails are rusty. I can smell the creosote seeping out of the ties as they bake in the sun. As I move along the track I pass buildings, houses, fields, wetlands and woods. Everything clears out of my way as I pass. There is nothing that can hinder my movement. I hear the clang of the bell, the whistle.
I hear a crow calling outside. He is parked in one of the trees barking at something. How crows came to be I have no idea. They are large birds with no purpose for being large. Perhaps they are descended from an earlier time when all birds were large. Perhaps grasshoppers were also large and the crows and grasshoppers formed battle lines to engage one another, wrestling one another to the ground, chewing and pecking. How the crow-grasshopper wars started no one knows, but the crows seem to have won because there are no more giant grasshoppers to be found.
The crow outside is waiting for me to die. He has caught a promising scent and thinks I will be going soon. Thinks. The crow thinks. I would not be surprised to learn that crows think. But I have sad news for this crow. I will not be dying soon. He needs to go elsewhere for his dinner. He needs to claw his way through a different screen, pecking out the eyes first. They are delicacies for crows. The rest is so much work, getting past the skin and then tearing off the tough muscle tissue. The eyes are soft.
Iím waiting for my daughter to come visit. She will bring her husband and they will be late. They will sit on the couch and at one point she will ask what I want to do, as if I sit around trying to think of something to do. The fact is that I have no idea of what to do. Suze has given me a couple ideas and they are actually fairly good ones. Suze herself has gone to visit her daughter in turn leaving me alone to face the uncertainty of what to do and what to talk about.
Itís like a taste of something in the dark. It tastes sweet at first, but then it makes you sick to your stomach. You donít know which way to turn, whether you are tasting something sweet or something that just makes you sick. You are used to being safe this way. Everything there is to eat is safe and will not make you sick, but this has made you sick. You search for an answer, but you are just groping in the dark. You lie down on your side, your left ear caressed by the pillow. You wait for sleep.
I heard the church bells chiming. I heard the constant ringing in my ears. Soon Iíll be living in country again and I wonít hear church bells chiming. I heard them growing up in the country because we lived close enough to the little farming town to hear the chimes on the Baptist church we attended. Church has gotten away from me. I could go if I wanted to go by myself but I hardly want to do anything by myself. It is the anxiety I think. Then too there are now some things I want to do by myself.
No notion of how I got here or how long I will stay. Outside in the park people walk the asphalt path around and around. Others walk up and down the railroad tracks. I think the railroad is a shortcut to somewhere, possibly the high school on one end and the town on the other end. That would explain much of the traffic. The house buying thing moves along and causes me much anxiety. I think it causes you much anxiety too, so between the two of us we are disintegrating like an old porch unable to support one another.
The new house is looking dubious. I think the deal will fall through. You are still moving, head down, as if this were not the case and who knows, you may be right. I am scared with either outcome. Fear continues to rule my day the way darkness rules my night. I canít, simply cannot face another day of this. But I have no choice. I am committed to life and must continue living it. I shove things aside in my head and look ahead to the next task I have to do. I have some paperwork. It will soothe.
Iím writing because this is the place in line I have in this existence, the only existence I am likely to have. Face book sends me an email saying I last updated my profile 8 weeks ago. That sounds about right. My Face book existence is practically non-existent. I cannot get caught up in that. I donít know how and have no desire to do that. It is not so much different from 100 Words. Why do I do one and not the other? Perhaps 100 Words is more private. I donít have so many people peering over my shoulder.
Itís green post rain out the window screen. The rain pounded earlier and now it is quiet. I am ready to take off, things falling out of my head, all about death if nothing else, but there are plenty of other things. I keep wondering why bother to live if I am faced with death. I used to think it was a Ė and now I forget the word, the words. But it was a shout for life and there were implications of joy in that shout. It was a shout of defiance. But what about pain? I didnít consider that?
We have been spending too much time trying to figure out what bird is nesting in the birdhouse. It doesnít matter what the birdís name is. It is there and that is all there is to it. It is a busy and noisy bird, calling constantly. Perhaps it is trying to attract a mate. The birds in the bird pictures never look like the birds in the wild. Particularly the females are hard to classify, and I am pretty sure we have a female on our hands. I am trying to ignore the other thing I have on my hands.
Itís raining beneath the thunder. I can hear the rain hitting the umbrella on the deck and the deck itself below. I imagine I can hear the rain hitting the grass. There is a feverent crash of lightening and the rain continues to fall. I think of getting you out of the basement because it is dangerous but I know that is not true. The basement is probably the safest place to be in a thunder storm. Me, high up on the second floor looking out over the trees, now that is a place that might be dangerous to be.
Itís hot in here, up to 80 now. Iím wondering if you switched off the air conditioning before you left. There was something else, but I seem to have forgotten it now. My brain is so leaky and fragile. I donít think it would ever survive an ocean voyage. The deal on the new place to live fell through. Crashed like a bad board on which I was standing, although I may have had one foot on more solid ground and my fist wrapped around a handhold. So my view will not change to the open windswept meadow and wetland.
The ice age ended this morning. You may not have heard about it because it was a very short one. It lasted only about three minutes. Normally ice ages go on and on just about forever and we make a lot of fuss over them. This one was so small that scientists will probably not even find any evidence of it in those core samples they take of the earth, of the ice shelf, of my brain, the long silver tube slowly entering my skull. So there will be a small notice, here, of this ice age, so very small.
It seems there was something but it has gone away. I am left now with the sun buzzing on my desktop and memories of it burning into an Ohio cornfield. There were days on bicycles pedaling miles down the two lane, down to the old schoolhouse where we would play stretch with forbidden knives. We never went in the other direction to the lake. I suppose the road was too busy that way. We could have gone fishing, juggling poles and tackle boxes on our bicycles. I donít know what we would have done if we actually caught a fish.
I am bashing my head into the wall. Bang, bang, bang. It seems to distract me but the urge to do it is more than the urge for distraction. It has something to do with being older now and glued to a particular spot. Is there anger? No, there is no anger, perhaps a little frustration. Mostly I feel the anxiety rising in my gullet and there is as much angst about that coming as there is about everything else. You would think I could find a way to shut it off. Bang, bang, bang. Well a way besides that.
Dark clouds stiff with rain march across the horizon. Here and there a fist punches out of a cloud, clenched in righteous anger. I think I am out of step with my own vision. Here old gods march against smart phones and groomed weathermen in slacks and sports coats. I wonder what sports those coats were designed for. I could Google. I might get an answer. Wikipedia says they were originally designed for watching sports. That explains I suppose, although a good sports coat can be comfortable. I have drifted away from the dark clouds. Now Iím out of words.
There is a rumble outside. They are eating the roads. Only the asphalt. They are not touching the concrete roads, but they eat every piece of asphalt they can find leaving long dirt pits where freeways once ran. It could have been worse. Aliens from another place and perhaps time could have had a taste for us or even for our food, but they ate the roads. I suppose as long as they are here we will have to make do with gravel and dirt roads, or perhaps pour a lot more concrete. Thatís for people wanting to drive fast.
The fan blades spin in a blur. They hardly interrupt the view seen through them and I have the fan set on low. I wonder would they disappear altogether if I set the fan on high. I am thinking about David. I should contact him again soon, to see if he is alive still if nothing else, although he is likely to live longer than I will. He is certainly is better physical shape than I am. He walks all the time. I get very little exercise. I teach and play the piano. I will walk to my piano lesson.
The refrigerator failed. You are down there with dish cloths and ice in the sink. You have finally resigned yourself to calling a repairman and I have said I would pay for the repair. You like this refrigerator, although I donít see anything in particular to like about it. I think this is the second time a repairman has been called out to fix it and the boards in the kitchen floor will start warping if the leak gets too bad. You are dealing with the problem and I am hiding up here. Soon Iíll run out of reason to hide.
My father took the work lamp under the house. The truth was that his father was afraid to crawl up under the house and sent my father. My father may have been in his teens then. He may have been older since I got this story from my mother, but she may have heard it from my father. The work lamp shorted out and shocked my father badly, so he was stuck under the house. My grandfather crawled up under the house and tied a rope around my fatherís legs and pulled him out and took him to the hospital.
The water is willing to be wrung out of the air. Tight fists twisting the air as the water cascades from the knot. The air is clearer now and flowers are beginning to bloom. My fingers are making small odd errors as I type and I wonder if this is the beginning of my mind deteriorating. The errors are not exactly random. Instead they are like the small flowers beginning to bloom. Every day I take three papers out of my in box and process them. When I am lucky I throw them away. Usually I have to file them.
The train is going by. For what itís worth. Perhaps I should have said, ďA train is going by,Ē since there is surely more than one train. Every train is unique most likely, a unique combination of engines and cars in a unique order with a unique amount of wear and tear on their parts. Even the track is unique with each passing, wearing down little by little. A small bird flying a thousand miles to sharpen its beak on the side of the mountain and in doing so gradually wearing the mountain away. The cars wearing the rails away.
There is no train going by, only the sun shining on the rails. The sun shines on the road and the path in the park. It shines on the leaves in the trees and the blades of grass. It shines on feathers of birds and the fur of squirrels, chipmunks, and groundhogs. The sun shines everywhere it can. It is a thankless job and there are many places the sun cannot shine. In truth it can only shine so far I suppose with any meaningfulness. The sunlight just wears thin after so many light years, thin like an old curtain.
Itís hot up here this afternoon. I hear something clunking in the dryer downstairs. It sounds like a pair of shoes. I could open the window and turn on the fan. Iím not sure why I donít. The bio-chemicals are edgy this afternoon. They always are in the afternoon though. Thatís when I lose a couple hours every day lying on the couch waiting to gather my wits from wherever they have gone, waiting for the meds to kick in perhaps. I hear the door sliding below. You are going to check the rug, to see if it is dry.
I hear the metal poles clanging as they are dropped onto the pile. This is how I imagine it must be done as each pole is pulled from the hole. I know this is not going anywhere and I am not sure why I continue with it, but I do nevertheless. I continue with this entry and I continue with the entries as a whole. There was some reason I used to know, but I have forgotten it. My brain is screaming again. I should not write such things. Someone might come here and find out. Thatís not likely though.
This batch closes on my birthday, August 17. Iíll not need that much time to finish it however. Iíve been keeping up every day or nearly so. I grab the last sip of cold coffee from my mug. Itís been a long morning. They are all long mornings, overlapping the way they do into the afternoons and sometimes into early evening. Itís up to 80 degrees in here with the humidity at 80%. It doesnít feel quite so bad though. Maybe I am used to it. I look at the coffee mug again, but I know it is empty now.
I rattle the control lever on my chair. It is not as comfortable a chair as it looks because I sink too low into in when I sit, causing the front frame to press against the backs of my legs and turning them numb after a couple hours. I canít always get up and walk around every couple hours because of the nature of my work. Iím tethered by the USB cable on my headset. I also have a VOIP phone but my students frequently complain they cannot hear me when I use the VOIP. Then they just go away.
Itís a long quiet day. You can hear the sun buzzing over the endless rows of corn; feel the heat in the soft earth below. I am leaning slowly into this day. There was some suggestion that I might do better if I did. I donít really have much faith in it. I took the nap however and up from that. I have my corrections done and my set-up for tomorrow morning finished. It is only 12:40. Some might consider that late since I havenít had my shower yet and am still in my robe, but I havenít been napping.
Dogs bark and car doors slam. I hear voices up from the park or maybe from the railroad tracks. I hear an engine buzzing out on Grand River Avenue. Grand River has cut through so much of my life, more now than Ohio and more than Ann Arbor. Certainly more than Ypsilanti or even Canada. I have to be careful here. I can feel the day drawing more tightly around my chest, like a rough rope that will draw me up and off my feet to dangle in empty space, a space with no sky and no earth or light.
When I am finished here I might call my mother. I normally call her every day just to make sure she is ok, but today is Tuesday and Tuesday is the morning that she goes grocery shopping with my sister. Also there is the small matter that she left her phone on my sisterís dining room table the other day refusing to have anything to do with it anymore because it was just too impossible for her to use. They got her a new phone you see although I am almost sure they must have gotten her another flip phone.
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