Monthly Archives: October 2004
Fog this morning.
There was a wreck on the freeway, so probably not everyone feels the way I do.
I woke up in a good mood.
My daughter cuddled with us in the big bed last night. The big daughter, Beta. I’m writing it here so I don’t forget it. Actually, she was just going to cuddle, but she fell asleep and stayed there the whole night. Beta the blanket thief. I woke up at midnight and got up to turn off the hall light, then moved to Beta’s bed where I had both a blanket and a pillow to myself. Alpha, on the other hand, spent the night in the big bed without any blanket. Which was okay since she fell asleep in her lounge wear.
We were all exhausted yesterday, I guess.
When I woke up in the morning a
certain stuffed rabbit was on the floor, although it had started the night in bed with me, making me wonder what I had dreamed. I never remember my dreams lately. Except the wild nightmares.
Anyway, sitting there at breakfast I said out loud, I’m in such a good mood today.
I was looking at people in their cars yesterday. They all looked so desperate and sad. What a world, where desperation, fear and dread are so abundant, where depression, grief, aggression and frustration are the sane reactions and the only solution seems to be an array of pills or walking on hot coals.
When your conscience hits you knock it back with pills.
(Had Led Zeppelin in the car stereo this morning until the fucker started to skip.)
People looked so isolated and sad. So oblivious to the love and beauty around us.
Because it’s there, man.
If we could only be made aware of it. Of our fundamental love for each other, our connection to each other.
If you could only make everyone aware of that, I thought. If you could only make everyone aware of that. There must be a ton of money in that, I thought.
If the day went, you know, directly from your morning commute back to bed, that would be best some days. Some days, you would be ahead of the game if they ended right then.
Like, I mean, it’s still pitch dark, you’re in the kitchen head-on-the-table tired waiting for the coffee machine to finish its brewing cycle and while you wait you go outside to look for the moon and it’s warm as a summer evening (16 degrees celsius) and you really have to look for the moon, because although it is full it is in the middle of a total lunar eclipse too.
You finally find it over the neighbor’s house with the barking German shepherd, about 100 degrees from where you expected it (over the neighbor’s house with the biting tortoise), emerging from the Earth’s shadow like a grey pollywog out of its egg sac.
Your wife goes and wakes up the kids so they can see it. They look and go back to bed.
You forget why your wife was mad at you and maybe she does too.
You drink coffee. You forget to eat anything.
The sunrise is the best of all. It’s that nice light again. You wish the sun wouldn’t come up, would just sit there just below the horizon until all the chickens gave up and climbed out of their coops and scratched around the flowerbeds, squinting in the dim golden pink light to see if they turned up anything good.
If you could go to bed right then, you’d be ahead of the game. You’d be sustained sufficiently to begin the next day already.
Just skip work, skip trying to decide what to eat for lunch, or whether to skip lunch and buy some more time for your cell phone. Skip trying to start outlining that novel, skip the drive home and everything else.
You wonder if you could sort of close your eyes and coast through it.
You wonder how long it will take for this depression to peter out.
You wonder, if you found the energy instead, if it could be a productive day, friends won and enemies influenced.
You wonder all sorts of things.
Now if I can just remember to mail the absentee ballot back in time.
It was a 1968 Pontiac something-something station wagon. It was blue. I would have to have been ten or eleven; I feel smaller in the memory, but I would have to have been at least that old because my parents never bought cars new back then. On the way home from the beach, on a long, straight empty stretch of road, mom in the passenger seat, us three kids in the back seat with our crackers and games and the coffee can full of urine (Dad was a busdriver and didn’t like to stop for anything) dad stepped on it. (On the accelerator, not the coffee can.)
He floored it.
“What are you doing?” my mom asked him in a voice that suggested white knuckles and fingernails digging into blue imitation leather upholstery.
“Cleaning the cobwebs out,” he said.
I looked over the top of the seat at the speed-o-meter. He got the needle all the way to the right, to where it maxxed out at 120 mph. Then he took his foot off the accelerator pedal and we coasted back down to 65.
I did that once in February 1981 in Czechoslovakia, which has (or at least had then) some long straightaways and nice flat freeways en route to Poland. I was driving a Polish woman to Cracow in her blue Volkswagen Scirocco and got it up to 240 kph before she started screaming.
It’s fun to do that when you’re writing, pile on the hyperbole until you burn out the cobwebs. It works best with humor. If people think you’re serious about it it sounds stupid, so you act like you’re not serious.
It was pitch dark this morning and I couldn’t see a damn thing. It was drizzling and my headlights seemed to be powered by fading AA batteries. The heat was on and so was the Bylsma/Bach CD and Beta was snoozing in the passenger seat. Sometimes I wish I understood her better. Maybe I do, and just amn’t sure. Maybe I understand no one really; bad for someone who wants to write, on the one hand, but I have sworn allegiance to bewilderment and confusion, on the other.
Re-reading it, I saw it was not brilliant but also I seem to have worked harder on the structure end of things back then. It still needs work, but it’s not a bad story. It’s interesting to see how I’ve changed and how I’ve stayed the same since then.
In particular, from a non-literary point of view, I found three things most interesting:
- There is an “adult bookstore” in it, which no longer exist in that form so much, due I suppose to the Internets etc.
- There are no cell phones
- The description of the one character at the end proved to be a near-perfect match for the way Beta looked when she was born
This story, in fact, was one of about three I wrote back then that came true in unexpected ways. Since most of what I wrote back then — no, all of it — was negative or scary or sad, I quit writing for a long time.
Oblivio has a story about this very thing, called End of Story, that you should go read. He writes better than I do.
Here is a bit of the description from my story:
- …face was purple… tubes ran up … nose… respirator tube …
… so tiny… on bleached white sheets.
…I stroked his forehead. All his hair had been shaved, eyebrows, everything. “I never knew you were so tiny,” I said. There were big yellow and purple bruises on his arms where needles and tubes were taped. I sat on the edge of his bed and listened to the machines click and hum and peep. I … held his tiny hand. … I cradled him in my arms and he felt hot. It wasn’t until I saw tears falling on my skin that I realized I was crying…
I was so close to him that I could feel my own hot breath bouncing back when I whispered. I smelled acrid medicine on his skin. I held him close. He was so light in my arms, like a single breath.
Whatever. Writing the story, I thought I was describing a little guy who had been beaten, but when my daughter was born 10 weeks early, it was too close for comfort.