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The ground is curving beneath us, literally bending as we lie here. Sometimes I cannot stop eating. My face is pressed tightly to the ground. There is something tied around my neck, and I am digging up rocks and dirt with my teeth. As I raise my head to grab a breath, an earthworm wriggles free and drops to the ground. It writhes there and I wonder how long it will last against the frozen ground. I can feel the grit in my mouth, grinding and wearing my teeth down. Something powdery is stuck in the back of my throat.
ďLook!Ē Itís a whisper just behind my ear. I turn to look, but no one is there. I can feel the breath there, but there is no body. The warmth of the breath made me wish the body was there. The floor was a dark wood. It was clean and had a slight sheen to it. Out in the parking lot, the sun was shining. There were three cars on the lot, but nothing special to see. I was tempted to answer the voice, but I didnít, not the first time. Then the voice came again, urgent this time, ďLook!Ē
Itís Saturday, and my body wants its Saturday thing, which is to sleep late; and then get up, get a cup of coffee, find my chair, and go back to sleep again. Downstairs now in the dungeon, listening to some exploratory piano music, Iím trying to decide whether to move my office back upstairs or not. Yes, Iím multitasking, and I know I should try to avoid that. It wears on my brain so. Closing my eyes, I rest, riding on the gentle swell of a bass. The lift of the piano as it tickles the inside of my skull.
It happened quickly, as these things often do. I leaned over to pick up a speaker. I was fine. I twisted and lifted the speaker, and I was not fine. I was able to finish the lift, or something. I didnít drop the thing, but I was suddenly doing it through pain. I got the speaker moved, and its mate, using other muscles. This morning the back wakes me up unreasonably early. The pain pills do not touch it. Iím okay just now though. I will continue to be so long as I do not move. Maybe I will sleep.
The sun is up and the pain in my back has quieted down a little. The muscle relaxer I took this morning is helping a little. The part that bothers me is that it goes down through my hip and into my left thigh. My body doesnít like to bend now. It is difficult to pick things up off the floor. Lifting and climbing stairs feel like dangerous activities. I suppose episodes like this are necessary to make me appreciate the good health I generally have. I have noticed the grammar checker in Word I have some thoughts about it.
Microsoft word is checking my spelling, grammar, and my writing style. This is a dangerous trend. How far is it from this to Microsoft work checking my thinking? To report aberrant thought, to help nudge me into proper lanes of mental hygiene? Already I can see it having profound implications for the language. Once the rules are set for this, our language will become frozen in place. No longer will it be a growing, changing, flowering language. It will die and become a staid, solid, fossil of itself. The way people write will be different from the way they talk.
I was going to talk a little about the differences between Korean and American movies. Korea has about five thousand years of continuous history. We have about 300 years. They are all one ethnic group with a homogenous culture and language. They have told their children the same stories for five thousand years. We are a mixture of dozens of races, religions, ethnic groups, and possibly sub-species. When you make a movie in Korea, you have five thousand years of history, of cultural myth to draw on, and your entire audience already knows all the background. You use that background.
I am sleepy this morning, near to falling asleep here as I sit typing. That will be o.k. if it happensÖThe pain has somewhat gone away this morning, thanks in part to the Robaxin you slipped me. My brain is drifting back to Ann Arbor, and the house I lived in on Ashley with Dean and Carol, and their goofy cat, Cassia. I think that was the catís name. I had a BSA Lightening then. It was a beautiful motorcycle. I parked it in the tiny alley between the houses. It was fall then, just like it is here now.
The wind is brisk today
and the trees are excited with color.
They are dancing,
yeowling I think.
They are scratching their heads
against the sky,
straining at their roots to
tear loose and run down the street,
chunks of dirt bouncing behind.
everything is running down the street.
Homes have pulled up their skirts,
joining the stampede,
leaving cluttered trails of
The steel rails have pulled themselves
loose from the tracks,
whipping like long licorice tentacles,
giant spiders poised,
balancing on their new freedom,
scanning their world.
The street shoulders shudder,
It is amazing how quickly a half hour goes by. That is how long I have been sitting here with my fingers poised over the keyboard, getting ready to type something. The TV seems to be all gunshots and shouting newscasters this morning and I slip beneath my headphones to escape it. It is like SCUBA diving, when you first dip below the surface of the water. The ambience changes. Well, water is thicker than air. You sense that. Sound travels faster in water, and I suppose you hear different things. Less, though, is what you are mostly aware of.
I am sweating inside my robe. Coffee makes me sweat. That is something I think I already knew. I just had not verbalized it. We are uncertain creatures, because we cannot calculate the odds of even insignificant events. Life is full of things that cannot be known, and usually, it seems to me that this is due to the limitations of our own powers of observation and calculation. I tend to see all nature as driven by a limitless set of probabilities. Things are where they are in space because there is an overwhelmingly large probability that they will be.
In grade school, I walked past the library every day on my way home from school. It was perhaps my second most favorite stopping place. It was only a mile home, but sometimes that mile would take hours. I was sweet on the librarian, and she would let me check books out of the adult section even when I was seven or eight. I liked books about animals and the Hardy boys. I liked Irving Stone, Allen Drury, and Descartes. The librarian would save me every Dr. Seuss book that came in, although I suspected she read them first herself.
Your eye catches on things. maybe sometimes you are just walking. Something has caught your eye, and you didnít even think about it then. You were thinking about a grocery list or about your lover, how you love it when he teases you. You are walking along and you notice that muscles are stretched behind you Ė again - pointing to the eye caught on this or that sticky non-porous surface. (I am not at all sure about the word, "non-porous" here, but I am leaving it as a place-holder) and you have to retrace your steps to get it back
Yes, I need to increase the font size here. I cannot see what I am typing clearly. For that matter, I canít hear the music either. Part of the problem is the new Windows update. Also it might be the new glasses. Ever since I brought home the glasses, I cannot see things that I used to see just fine. My eye doctor says my new prescription is better, and in her office it looked better, but I dunno. Maybe they didnít transfer the prescription properly when they made the lenses? Some of that process seemed pretty low-tech to me.
My windows are not as clear as they should be. The sun is out, but the sky is not blue. It is the wrong color. It is a hazy brown color. What is the deal here? Maybe I have dirty windows. Do I have dirty windows? Looking through a spot where the two sashes overlap one another I can see that it is even more hazy thereÖeven darkerÖ I look closer. Part of it is the screen. What should I do about this? Would It be better to open the windows or to shut them? Should I shut the blinds?
Iíve been listening to Joni today, Joni Mitchel. But this is early Joni, old recordings in small clubs and listening rooms, before she was Joni Mitchel. Introducing her as Joni Anderson. I have over the years grown used to listening to an older, refined singer with immaculate back-up and professional recording. This is a younger Joni, sometimes searching for the song as she sings, sometimes finding a bad note, with the sound of people walking to the bathroom in the background and spotty microphones. It takes me back in memory to those places, to the Canterbury House in Ann Arbor.
When I write about Joni Mitchel, there is a part of my mind that wants to write about Canadian women, about the music in womenís voices in general, and about the sour notes that love hits so often. I suppose it is not Canadian woman; they are not so different from many other women; we are all products of millions of years of evolution; so how could such an insignificant thing such as a country or a culture really have an effect? I am thinking early man, early woman was just as capable of love, of pain, as we are.
There is rust on the rails. How can that be? There is a train through here three or four times a day. Perhaps it is only on one side of the rail? The other side is polished bright by the passage of those steel wheels. The pressure between the rails and the steel must be immense for those moments that the two surfaces meet. The steel deforms, melts, and the wheels of the boxcars and engines floats on a thin membrane of melted steel, of displaced molecules. The rust is subsumed back into steel. Oxygen is released. We can breathe.
Well, do I feel old today? I had not thought about it, but I donít think that I do. Thatís not quite it. For one thing, I donít have that many pains. For another thing, the pains I do have are not that severe I have more of a sinus irritation, perhaps seasonal allergies. I would say seasonal allergies, but there is nothing seasonal about it. I have it year-round. I feel a little hung over, that feeling I associate with being dehydrated. Here I take another drink of water. Thatís about it for today. I actually feel pretty good.
I frequently complain about cold feet. My feet feel cold now, even though I am wearing socks. I have a theory about my cold feet though. I sit at a desk much of the day, often in my sock feet. When I am wearing house shoes I donít notice the cold on my feel so much. I have one of those chair mats, a hard plastic thing with teeth that poke into it, for my chair to roll around on. It slides up beneath my desk and below an open window where cold air flows through. Itís a chiller pad.
Shadows are moving across the lawn, rippling in studies of green, across the landscape, moving tall, foreshortened and sharply sculpted by the sunlight. Itís a lawn party! Small shadows are chasing one another, arms stretched out, running from the wind, tagging, laughing changing direction, and returning. They are running far afield while the adult shadows lug shadows of coolers up the hill. Some are carrying shadows of blankets. Some are holding hands. Some are pushing shadow strollers or pulling shadows of wagons. They are all wearing shadows of smiles. It has been a long year Ė a shadow of a year.
In the deep of the night
where the cool breeze
flows through the window
and over my arms
I am left with the sounds of a highway
in the deep distance
and the radio.
I am thinking of you, brain already knowing where the next line of music is goingÖ
I am thinking of the graceful arc in the sky that connects
one to another,
of the arc that connects us
where we breathe,
where we dream
You turn in your sleep.
We are dreaming the same dream:
The coverlet falls.
Taking a pause here. There was something happening. What was it? Perhaps I can reconstruct the event. Well, was it matter or energy, or some third state? Perhaps it was a fourth state or any number of other states. If we restrict ourselves to two states, then it becomes either matter or energy. Since I am not sure what it was, I am left to guessing given the memory left to me of the event. It seems that it was not a thing; rather more of an event or a movement. Was it energy then? Is that what it was?
The last critter I caught in the house was a small mole that crawled behind the oven. I am not sure how it got there, the responsibility for removing it fell to me. I caught it in a dish towel with the intent of letting it go outside, but on my way out of the house I could feel its heart beating hard against my hand. The little heart just burst while I was carrying the animal, like one of those balloons we used to tie on our motorcycles to make motor noises. I could feel it in my hand.
Itís getting dark outside, clouding over like one of those days where the sky clouds over and dumps rain for several hours non-stop. Afterwards the sun comes out bright and hot and you can smell the rain. A rainbow may or may not appear in the sky opposite from the sun. This placement has something to do with the angle of refraction that makes the rainbow in the first place. In the low spots in the yard, small sparkling puddles will form. As you run across the yard barefoot they will splash up on your legs, fresh, warm, and clean.
There is some relief to this, this passing of my fingers over my head and through my hair. The texture there has changed over the years to where it has become wooly and thinner, not soft and curly as when I was young. The hair there, much like the rest of me has aged and does not work the way it once did. It is said that these changes are things we do not think about when we are young, but I did think about them when I was young. It does not seem fair that I should be reminded.
The train has gone by and left a solitary basketball player walking off the court to retrieve his ball. Yes, the train was noisy. After all, my window was open. I could hear it hitting the hump on the rails that makes that rhythmic clacking noise. I could feel its weight passing by. I could hear the screech of the springs as the cars rocked back and forth. Forty tons we are talking about here. Empty, I believe. The Union Pacificís system is approved for rail cars that can handle up to 300,000 pounds gross weight. He shoots. He misses.
They went into the deep and dark woods together, Aoife and TAlie. Holding hands, and a little fearful as they stepped into the cool. Aoife was the first to cross the shadow, while TAlie paused, scanning the tree line, eyes alert for movement in the shades of dark and darker between and behind the trees ahead. Perhaps they should have worn shoes. Perhaps they should have reminded one another that they were, after all, at the top of the food chain. But it did not feel that way when they stepped into the space that in their hearts marked woods.
Yes, it was cooler in there, but it was also something else. Was it moisture? Was that the density they felt creeping up their legs and soaking into their clothes? Was that the thing that seemed to plug up their ears as they stepped in? They paused, looking at one another. Here there were no blue eyes looking into blue eyes. It was all shades of darkness and even darker. There were mysterious half-seen shapes hanging from the trees. Aoife was mouthing something to TAlie, but he could not make it out. He was hoping it was, ďLetís go home.Ē
TAlie felt Aoife tug at his hand, urging him further into the woods. He had a moment of terror, wanting to tear himself away and run back the way they had come, but it seemed that way was already closed off. That they were already turned around, hopelessly lost. ďCímon,Ē she whispered. The whisper was almost a caress to him. He felt it passing over him, calming, and he took another step. Each step left him slightly off-balance and made the next one seem natural. Where are you going, foolish children? Arenít you going leave a trail of bread crumbs?
TAlie rememberedÖhe remembered. What happened? Where was he now that he could remember? Didnít that require him to be somewhere else? In another time? He remembered thinkingÖwhat was it? He was thinking that his eyes should adjust, that he could see, that he could hear, but that was not going to happen. It was like walking into a muddy lake where you could only half breathe and could not see at all. And the sounds were different, but not improved at all. There was a sense of things around them. There was the feel of Aoifeís tiny hand in his.
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