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This must be my new wake-up time. It is almost 3 oíclock in the morning. It will be in five minutes. I remembered something else I need to do. I have an appointment with my neurologist that I have to re-schedule somehow. But I will be in another state by then. Maybe we can make it a tele-appointment. And I need my annual maintenance done on my car. That is not such a big thing. I have itchy legs tonight. They itch. It happens sometimes. If it happened all the time I would worry, but it is a sometimes thing.
I assume if I sit here and write for a while I will get sleepy. That is how these things work. Writing your ideas down gets them out of your head and lets you sleep. See? I am already getting sleepy. I look into DW and there are ghosts of people there. My life is populated by ghosts of those who have passed on, possibly starting with my father. My friend David reminds me of someone in DW who is sitting there by himself long after everyone else there has died. He is sitting there waiting for someone to post.
I chew on my bite splint. When I woke up I was worried about my neurologist appointment. I need to continue getting my seizure meds. I also need to be going to a competent neurologist. There is a doctor in Ohio for GP. I donít know whether he is a competent G.P, but he saw both of my parents well into their 90ís. He says My mother is going to make 100. She has good days. I will probably see her tomorrow. They say she has recently had her hair done. She would like that. She likes to look nice.
I might be hungry. How would I know? In my mind the sun is rising. I see the change in light in the sky. I breathe slowly, concentrating on the long exhale, on the way my chest expands when I inhale. It is one of those functions that we can do with either of two parts of the brain. Like driving a car, we can either think about it, or just let that other brain do it. The other brain usually does a better job, particularly with breathing and with driving a car. But right now, I might be hungry.
My sister and her husband have left to take her to the eye doctor. What day is it? I am not sure, but it may be Monday. That means I have five days before I have to go back and face roomie. The news I am going to have, if my current thinking holds, will not be something she will want to hear. I woke up this morning filled with fear. Once I got up and started moving and then working I felt better. There is something about the slow healing movement of work that sets things right for me.
Tomorrow I am going to be driving a car for a long while. I will be leaving trouble here for a while, but trouble is never alone for long. It will hunt you down. But I have other things to worry about just now. I am a little man who has big things he has to do inside of a small life just now, and I am scared. I will be o.k. as long as my health holds. I think about roomie sleeping downstairs with this Dorothy-in-Kansas tornado of crap swirling in her brain She will not sleep much tonight.
Where was I? I wasnít anywhere, was I? I could add another hour a day to my work schedule and make more money. But I donít need it. It would help ensure I didnít have any free time for my mind to wander off into places that cause me pain. I am surrounded by little plastic grocery bags on the ground containing the clothes I emptied out of her closet. I am getting sleepy. That is good. How much can I type here before you give up reading it? Now would be a good time to give up, wouldnít it?
My brain is empty. I remember Kerouacís book, Visions of Cody. It was a book of emptiness and loneliness. I am not lonely, but I am getting empty. I think these days empty is a destination, not a thing to run from. I light up the tubes and put on some music. I think of my children living their lives. They all have difficulties and seem present and solid in the world. I do not seem to be either. Will I go to sleep now if I lie down? Perhaps I should hit myself over the head a little longer.
I am still in the middle. I will yet be in the middle for a little while longer and I will almost always be in the middle of something even if it is being lost in the void of eternity. Long after the universe has crumbled back into its component pieces of atoms and even those have slid back into whatever equation they popped out of, we will have once been. Not that that will make any difference other than to comfort a five-year-old who has peeped out his window at night and into something he should not have seen.
I think I have lab work I need to get done for the neurologist. I had a seizure Dec. 17, a particularly vile one, but I had been eating every other day trying to lose weight. I am eating Atkins again now, something roomie demanded ďweĒ do. I do well on Atkins. I have dropped eleven pounds. I donít think she has lost any, but she gets all confused about her diabetes and ketosis and cheats on the diet. Then she tells herself she is not cheating. Will have to watch my diet carefully. We always do well at first.
There is something counter-intuitive about eating meat. It seems it should make you gain weight, not just the opposite. I have been thinking about getting some imitation meat and trying to cook that up. First, however, I will buy a rotisserie chicken and eat that. That will be good for a couple of days and is an easy thing to do while you are living in the middle. If you stick to the keto diet, you really donít get hungry. That is why it works. It will also, of course, lower your blood sugar, your blood pressure, and your cholesterol.
I am up now and with hot coffee. The internet here is actually better than at home. I woke up in a bad place emotionally, and I am really not sure how to describe it. Bad seems to be a start. The sky almost seems turquoise out the window here, but it is still not quite 7:30. Some willow branches and the sky are really all I can see over my monitor here. Nobody else is awake. I will do some work. That will help. It always does. It is easy work and sort of routine. It helps that way.
It is a later day and a later time in the day. I am not going to dwell on those things that I do not control. I donít know if I can control them. That gets into questions about free will. They are difficult things. They are impossible when I am not ready to make decisions or to take steps necessary to untie the knots. The sky. What color is the sky? It is a blue, a light blue behind those clouds. The color of the sky today is glare. That is what I see when I look at it.
The dock is made from very weathered wood pounded into the floor of the lake. It has turned grey, the constant washings having leached all the sap from the wood. It is wobbly and as I walk out onto it. I think that faith may be the only thing holding it up now. I rest my hand onto one of the posts as I pass it, and I feel it moving against the palm of my hand. Every step causes the entire structure to move noticeably. I drop my pack into the boat tied up at the end and pause.
I might be a little tired as I look across the lake to the island. There is something there. I just cannot remember what it is, cannot remember what took me there in the first place. I have only a sense that it was important, that it was valuable to me, if not to anyone else. I have lived in this cottage through most of the winter looking out at the island, waiting for the ice to melt, for the water to warm. I have been waiting for the right day when the sun would shine directly on the spot.
Oh but the sun is warm today. I cannot tell you how many days I stayed in that cottage in the cold and wind coming off the lake. It seemed no matter how I stoked the stove, it was always several degrees below comfortable in there. Those knotty pine walls shining, even in the dark. The fireplace, smoky, and refusing to give any warmth anywhere except up itís own chimney. The foor, painted wood, creaked as I walked and gave off no warmth either. I am thinking a person could die in this cottage and never be discovered until spring.
I think it started with the gun. Everything has to start somewhere, and this started with the gun. It was a pistol, a very nice pistol some would say. It was made of good steel and had an excellent barrel. In the beginning it lay in a top drawer nestled in a pile of socks. As the days passed the gun slowly worked its way to the bottom of the drawer, picking up an occasional stand of lint from the socks on its way. Early in its existence it had been cleaned and oiled regularly. That was not happening now.
At night he would dream of the pharmacist. Perhaps her most prominent feature was the bushel of thick red hair falling down her neck and back. He would think about her standing at a steel sink carefully measuring a liquid. He would remember going to her upstairs apartment on the west side, walking across the creaking wood floor there, and her small bed. They were young and they did not mind a small bed. He would remember touching her and marveling at how perfect her body was. To him, all women had perfect bodies, but the pharmacist was especially perfect.
Music can capture spaces in time and hold them to be released at some later point, sometimes decades later when the container itself is covered with a thick film of dust and oil. What it captures though is not a name or even a bright color. It captures a sense of a moment in time, perhaps even a subtle shift of someoneís jaw, a movement, a look on a face. It captures a resonance and a quality almost like light and will snap you back there in a moment regardless of what else may be going on at the moment.
I think I have time to take one more step here. That is about it. It is amazing how suddenly we run out of time. It is something we are trained to not think about until it happens. Of course once it happens it is obviously too late to think about it, so why think about it at all? We can just go on dancing and drinking all night. We can lose our shoes and wear holes in our socks. Nobody notices the grime in the corner at this time of night. We are too busy ignoring everything like that..
I will be out walking in a bit. I donít cover a lot of ground on my walks. In fact I walk in a little quarter-mile circle, time after time, and no two laps are alike. It is odd how I can walk the same path time after time, day after day, and every circuit is different. Every day is different. I see different things from different angles. The wind hits me from a different angle and with a different chill. There are new birds and animals with each lap, and every time each tree is singing a new song.
It may be important to not forget the gun. The gun may be important. I read somewhere once that once a gun is mentioned in a story that it becomes important. It is a rule or something like that, a rule enforced rigidly by people who do things like that. Right now the gun is only one factor out of many factors. It lays in the dark, nestled in the sock drawer. It is heavy, heavier than it should be. That is because it is loaded. Someone unfamiliar with the particular weapon would not know about this detail of weight.
It was sunny the first time I met the gun. It belonged to my fatherís uncle at the time, and it was loaded with .22 ammunition. The gun had been purchased with a conversion kit that allowed it to be used as either a .22 or a .45. As a .45 it was deadly accurate. As a .22, not so much. This day, there was a group of us at my grandmotherís place in southern Ohio. We were out down by her pond, shooting frogs. I was not shooting frogs, but the men were. I was not a man yet.
My father was there with his uncle and two, maybe three of my fatherís brothers. He had two sisters and many more brothers. I was 8, maybe 10, and was walking in front of the men along the rocky shore that lined the pond. They were talking, passing the gun back and forth and taking shots at frogs. That night we would all have frog legs for dinner. My grandmother would fry them and serve them in the small dining room of her house. She was wearing a blue polka-dot dress, and her hair was tied back behind her head.
We were walking along the pond, me out front in the sunshine, wearing a Banlon shirt and shorts. My mother loved dressing me up. I was chewing on a long piece of timothy I had picked, when I heard the gun crack. I saw a fine spray of red hairs glistening in the sun like fine copper wires falling in front of my face. The men had stopped talking. Everything was quiet. My father said something to the other men in his deep voice. I didnít catch what it was. One of his brothers said something about shooting the boy.
I have met many guns in my life and actually owned that one for a while. Most of my meetings with guns were friendly. A few were not. As I think about gun ownership in America and gun violence in America, and as I tally up the number of unfriendly encounters I have had with guns, it surprises me that I have not been killed. I have heard it said that guns do not kill people. I want to testify. Guns do kill people, often all by themselves. Donít get confused about that because someone twists a sentence on you.
As I work typing, I can look out over the dog park. It is a nearly perfect spring day and the basketball court is full of young men. Four of five young people are watching from one of the two benches. Most of them are young women. Occasionally you see a young woman actually playing basketball, but that is rare. Once, maybe twice I saw a large group of young women playing. They all wore identical blue t-shirts, and they were supervised by a man. It was early in the pandemic. Perhaps they were the local womenís high school team.
I think I talked about the gun already. I talked about how once it is mentioned in a story that the gun now is obligatory. It has to be used somewhere else. It is this way with everything else in the story, the gun, the basketballs, the trees along the path in the dog park. The gun is by itself today. It is laying on a shooting bench, pointed downrange. The man is walking toward the target, and he is about halfway. He is young with close-cropped hair that has been recently neatly shaved at the back of his neck.
I am not sure, but I may have come here to die. I often make a big deal out of visualizing my future at every turn in the road, but I so rarely do it consciously. I do it, but I am not aware of doing it. It could be that when I came here I came here to die; I had no other thought for the future other than my life continuing as it was until it ended at some point. That thinking, of course, was fallacious. I can see that now. But I was not seeing clearly then.
I remember some places and events in my life more clearly than others. These things stand out like index tabs in a file. I donít know what makes these events salient, but there there are. I remember sitting on a bench with my friend Matthew on Lake Shore Drive watching the traffic roll by. Matthew was perhaps turning 60 or had just turned 60. He was musing about how we were entering the third phase of our lives, and we were talking about how the third phase would go. We had no idea that his life was very nearly over.
I have been out walking the park and I remember walking the cemetery at home with my sister. With my sister it is almost as if I were walking with a shadow of myself sometimes, and I get lost in time. She becomes a child walking next to me, taking in all the colors and the freedom of being away from home. She becomes a teenager, becomes a mother, becomes who she is now all without breaking stride. I am taking pictures in my mind as we walk, pictures of a tree, of a grave marker, pictures of my sister.
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