Thursday, February 20, 2014

Febuary 20, 2014

It was the lightning that woke me, not the thunder. Someone is taking your picture, said the dream brain. Ayla came into the room upset and went to her father. She has always gone to her father for comfort in the night. From the time she was two until the time she was four, she would wake up once every night and go to her dad, who would get up and lift her and put her back to bed. That was all she wanted. I don't remember him every getting mad. He said he knew it wouldn't last forever. He was right.

At work I was approached by an older man who appeared to be kind and harmless. Then he wanted to know my last name. Despite the fact that he could look it up--I'm a county employee--I didn't give it to him. It creeps me out that this town is so small people can recognize my car and know where I live. The man invited me to church. "You have to be careful," I told Noah this morning. "Someone can seem really nice at first and then just invite you to church."

Today is an odd day. It smells like the sea. It's warm and wet and I feel like I live in some sleepy beach town, with wind battered shutters and a stormy pier. I don't know. We are frustrated. It is a season of frustrations. All unbloggable. Our saddles are full of burrs.

Yesterday I got off work and you could tell it was going to be spring. I took a route I usually don't, one that winds through the neighborhood Noah and I cruised in May 2012, when we were visiting Brevard for the first time. I thought about myself then, looking at the rolling lawns, the unfenced yards, the untidy forest laced throughout the houses. The way I envisioned our lives here, full of Southern tropes like rocking chairs and record players. I couldn't reconcile the past me with the now me. Every year a part of me thinks that spring isn't going to return. I think that's why I nearly cry on the first day we can sense it coming. Everything seems impossible until it happens.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Winter's Tale

My neighbor took this picture
of the fantastic sky and that's
our house on the left. 

Yesterday morning after reading the news, something I never do, I started wondering if we had enough food to last us 24 hours. We did, but something about the media and everybody on Facebook saying that we are about to be hit by the new ice age, that the White Witch is descending upon the south to plunge us into a snowy hellscape from which we might never return, that WINTER IS COMING Game of Thrones style, has a way of making you question whether you've bought enough fatty foods and are your vibrator batteries going to last you through. They were telling folks to fill tubs with emergency supplies of water. I felt this was a bit inflammatory. And I knew I would go outside and eat snow before I would consume anything from a bathtub.

I asked Noah to go to the store for the second time in two days. I was concerned that the grocery store might actually shut down, something I have never witnessed in all my life, living in Denver and going to school with a foot of snow on the ground. Well the grocery store didn't shut down, but the liquor store did. It is the armageddon, I thought, and then I took my dog for a walk down a snowed in street at night. They don't have plows or technology here, so the world was still and absolutely white washed. It was snowing in a strange way, hard grains spattering the furry hood of my Yeti jacket. We went down to the field and the dog reveled in the snow like a dolphin on the waves. She danced and leapt in the field where I could see the husky remains of some harvested crop peaking up through the snow in abandoned rows. I want to call it corn, but I don't think it was. In the far distance was a hill, and high up on the hill I could see the lights of one house shining hazy through the falling snow. It felt like whoever lived in that house and I were the only people on earth.

The tiger-striped dog rocketed back and forth and bulldozed into me, body-checking me with her joy. I'm not crazy about this dog who always has such high expectations for me and destroyed my Minnetonkas. But she was in her element. The sky was that orangey pink, you know, still pregnant with snow. We were alone. It was dark but snow-bright and we weren't afraid. We turned to go home and a car came down the street. They spotted us and turned on their brights which felt accusatory somehow. I called the dog but she ran toward the car--don't worry--and the car didn't really slow down. The dog danced away. I raised my palms up to say sorry and as the car passed I saw it was the police. I thought they might give me a ticket for having a dog off a leash but they just kept driving in their ominous way, beyond us and into the night. There is no story here, just a woman and a dog saying hello to the earth before turning and heading for home.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

These Things I Would Like To Confess

One: One day working the cash register at Borders, an older man came through my line with his adult daughter. They were tourists from Poland. "My husband's grandfather is from Poland!" I said in the way of a bored customer service worker trying to get through a shift. The woman translated this to her dad, and his deeply folded eyes lit up. "He asks from where in Poland?" she said with a pleasant accent. I put their books in a bag and told them I didn't know, but wanting to give them more, I went on to say that he had emigrated to the US with his family as a teenager, and they had settled in Chicago before eventually moving on to Southern California. The old Polish man was slightly hunched and intense in the way of elderly Europeans from movies--people who we are meant to understand have had a past. He asked what the family name was, and the daughter explained that he might be able to tell what region they were from by the name. "Zitny," I said, and it was at this point that I remembered that Noah's grandfather is not in fact Polish but Czech. "Did they leave before the war?" Oh shit, I thought. I am getting in deep. "Yes," I said firmly, because I had heard no family lore of Noah's family living out World War II in Europe, and I would not trade war stories with the man, even though I kind of wanted to. I waited for this dignified elder to catch me out. He only corrected my pronunciation of the word Zitny and then reached out to shake my hand, smiling. "He says you are people of the same country," she said. "Countrymen." I smiled and hoped for a forgiving God.

Two: Three nights ago I repeatedly watched the youtube video of figure skater Bryce Davison's skate catching his partner, figure skater Jessica Dube, in the face--the moment that sent her to the hospital and both of them to therapy for PTSD. I did this because I thought it was romantic.

Three: My children were excited for the first two snow days, over it by the third, frustrated by the fourth. Today they have slipped into existential despair. "Will we have to go to school on Saturday?" they ask me, and "Does life have meaning?" They are fretful that their spring break will be taken from them. "Don't worry," I told them. "I won't let them touch your spring break." We have plans for spring break and if Transylvania County Schools comes clawing with their skeleton fingers and scythe, hungry for even more of our joy, I will pack two bags of clothing and apple products. I will set out west across the plains. We will leave our rain boots behind.

(Four: Someone send help I just applied olive oil to my scalp because of something I read on Pinterest)

Friday, February 7, 2014

How I Live Now

Here you see how I looked this morning when I sat down to write a spell, like Blanche DuBois or I don't know, Laura Bush might, in my kimono top and pearls. A real southern tragedy with sloppy lipstick and no bra, liable to show up drunk at the country club and skip church on Sunday. It's embarrassing to show these pictures I have snapped of myself, embarrassing like everything I have done as of late. The more I promise myself to stay off Facebook, the more I find myself ranting on it, the more I tweet the less sense I make. My emotional and spiritual state is shabby-chic, dignified and pretty pieces falling to ruin.

Yesterday I drove to the store, pulled into the parking lot, and then drove straight home. I was supposed to be getting something for dinner, but SOMETHING FOR DINNER is a puzzle that triggers a nervous breakdown these days. I have tiny nervous breakdowns every time I go to the grocery store. Sometimes they are not tiny at all. Every time I leave that place I am a bit more decrepit than I was before.

The brain is dizzy and in its own wonderland. Last night after seeing a promo on an American snowboarder, I dreamed we had moved to Lake Tahoe. I fantasize about adding tirades against Transylvania County Schools in the acknowledgement section of my book. Thanks to Transylvania County Schools, this book was in real danger of never being finished. Thanks to TCS, I have made a mockery of myself on social media. Do you know my children had school one day last week, at this time when even eating and peeing are unwanted intrusions? I don't understand anything anybody is talking about, I cannot keep up, I cannot create structured sentences anywhere outside of the book. Don't touch me, I am in labor, get the kids out of the room. Aside from Tahoe, all my dreams are of being trapped. I use my ruby lipstick in place of red slippers, smack your lips together three times, find your way home. I wake every day with the gnawing feeling that there is something I'm supposed to be doing but I can't think what, so I make coffee and put on my pearls and sit down to edit my book.

The elusive thing I'm supposed to be doing is life and this is what editing looks like on me.

(PS: Please know that Noah has been making many dinners and doing all the cleaning, which is even more than he does already, in normal times when I'm not a crazy editing book birther) (Please know I have pizza and sushi on speed dial)

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