Stop me if you’ve heard this already, but just in case an electromagnetic pulse has put the media in your town out of commission, the Oxford Dictionary says “time” is the most popular word in the English language. Apparently channeling the collective unconscious, or maybe even the collective conscious, I was recently, like this week, thinking how time was the one thing that has bugged me most during my life.
Since my childhood. I can still remember (I’ve said this before) throwing a fit at the age of five when my mother told me one December that 1964 wouldn’t be coming around ever again. This idea of permanence and irrevokability and transience is disturbing.
Time is, for me, a slit in things through which all the lightness leaks out.
Time is death nipping at your heels. Time is the monster in the nightmare where your feet are stuck in tar and you’re running more and more slowly and it’s gaining on you.
An old lady once said, when you’re little you have so much time. So much time. And as you get older, things go faster and faster. And when you’re really old, fucking hell, probably.
I find myself missing more and more deadlines.
On the radio they interviewed some old people yesterday. One was 103 years old, or will be on her next birthday*. They were asked things like, are you envious of today’s kids for all the toys and entertainment gizmos they have, like Gameboys and computers etc? And they said, in general, not for a single fucking minute do they envy today’s kids.
And I think of things like play dates and playing Mozart to babies to make them smarter, starting in the womb, and all the extra classes some kids get, and summer camps and workshops and good schools and bad schools and mobile phones and ringtones and Internet lists of p3d0s and suspicion and juvenile onset adult diabetes and war on 200 channels and corn syrup and pandemics and so on. And I remember digging holes in the filbert orchard near my house, all day, building forts and looking at Playboy magazines, and I think, not for a minute.
I think if one can manage not to let time freak one out, one is in a good position.
If one can somehow, you know, flow. Leaf in the river.
Let time buoy you or something. But how does that work?

*knock on wood

How to escape from a cemetery

  1. Wander around the cemetery next to the place you’re waiting to meet the bus bringing your homestay guest, which is late.

  2. No idea why they made an out of the way cemetery the meeting place. Maybe because it had a big parking lot.
  3. Be way over in some remote corner when the cemetery manager person locks the gates at closing time.
  4. Rattle the gate for a while, in vain.
  5. Stack garbage cans by the wall, climb up, jump out.

At least that’s how Beta does it.

Also, a brief note on Gamma. Gamma has discovered a new pasttime: stirring shit. Sowing the seeds of discord, whatever you like to call it. Typical little sister, what can I say, although she doesn’t limit her shit stirring to her big sister, she likes to get Alpha and me riled up too. More on this later.

Last night, my wife and I

sat in the living room in the dark,
with our feet up on the dining table
or on the sills of open windows
drinking wine and talking because
we so rarely have time for that
and watched a rottweiler
kill the neighbor’s calico cat across the street
in the front yard of the house the pig farmer’s
daughter built.
the cat was 13 years old and belonged to the
old lady on the corner.
it was just minding it’s own business.
a minute before the dog killed it,
i saw it out the window and said “meow, meow”
and it glanced over and quickened its
pace like a shy girl walking past
construction workers at lunchtime.
i even made a joke about it.
it turns out that’s what you do when a
dog like that kills a cat: watch.
we heard a noise like a shopping cart
falling down stairs into a garbage can.
we looked out the window and there four
people stood, one being a man with a leash in his
hand. it was coiled up, not attached to
anything, including the dog with the
limp cat in its mouth. shaking it good.
i yelled at them. i yelled at the dog.
the man told the dog, he told it “you
idiot.” the dog put down the cat.
the cat lay in the grass the pig farmer’s
daughters had mowed only that morning,
for the first time, having seeded it
a few weeks ago, month maybe.
it lay in the grass, and shook a little, then
it was still. “you idiot,” the man said.
to the dog.
we told him where the owner lived and
he went and told on himself.
my wife called the neighbor just to be sure.
the neighbor came out in her nightgown.
the dog blocked her way. she told
the owner to move it. “he won’t do
anything,” he said, the leash still coiled
in his hand. the dog sat in the middle
of the street like a good dog.
the woman carried her cat home by
the legs.

Beta came to a fork in the road, and took it

Beta had a 24-hour EKG test this week. She came home from the hospital and said, Hey look, and I was all like, Okay, Uh, What, Carrying case for your iPod? because she had this device hanging around her neck, and this mesh undershirt thing, and it wasn’t that far from what she usually wears but apparently it was the EKG machine and not an iPod. Same size, though.

She wore that around and I haven’t heard the final results but then I’ve been busy with the pool (today’s shopping list for hardware store: wooden stakes*, teflon tape, duct tape, rust-resistant paint, Valium); I was even busier with it but then we opened the boxes in our cellar and discovered that they had not included the pool liner, meaning we couldn’t assemble it or we could assemble it just not add water because that’s the job of the liner, holding the water, and without the water the pool has no structural integrity, but there’s still plenty to do because it turns out one must dig 5″ trenches, three of them, for part of the frame, discovering which fact made us happy we had not made a concrete slab for it as the hardware store pool guy had suggested (although, on the other hand, it would have given me an excuse to finally use a jackhammer) but instead I spent all day Saturday (with the exception of a brief siesta during the hottest part of the day, because, man, it’s been hot all weekend) as well as Sunday (except for when we visited some friends for a barbecue, everyone else was doctors (or little kids); just doctors, and us, the patients, and the rest of the time I was in the back yard with a collection of shovels, rakes, hoes, boards, wheelbarrow and a level and growing quite depressed at the Sisyphean nature of it all; I finally realized it didn’t matter that the liner was missing, I wouldn’t have got that far anyway, as spending one weekend leveling the ground and spreading sand and leveling that, and the following weekend digging it all back up to put down the framework, taking breaks to read the instructions in English (correct, but confusing) and German (simpler, believe it or not, but for the wrong pool) and …

Dead Horse: So Beta’s okay?

I was getting to that. I hope she is, she’s on a school field trip to Southern Italy, Naples and Pompei, and boy is it hot there right now.

Dead Horse: Thank you.

Our general assumption that this Beta thing is, you know, an opportunity to sit back, take a breath, and reevaluate our lives. Decide whether we want to continue putting pressure on ourselves and each other, or what.

But the kid seems okay. It was the scaredest I’ve been since the day she was born**, almost 17 years ago. Walk into her hospital room, you know, early morning, everyone’s sleeping, she’s so gentle and young and relaxed there on the bed, wired up to a machine, and I think, I’ve seen this before.

*to put through the heart of the pool company guy
** 3 months early

A dip in the pool, II

Men generally do not like pools, my wife tells me. She is incredulous.
I am in bed. My head is on the pillow. For good measure, this cylindrical buckwheat Japanese thing is crammed up under my neck as well; we have them and they are exotic so I use it, even though I fear it will give me a stiff neck, which it however hasn’t yet done.

I say, Gosh.

I am hoping to sleep, because I spent the evening vibrating dirt in a corner of the yard where our old pool used to stand. Shoveling, raking, leveling, and finally, vibrating with a device that looked like a cross between a lawn mower and a hovercraft, the color yellow, and weighed about 100 pounds, which was good for vibrating dirt, but less good for heaving it out of the truck and manhandling it down the steps into the garden, and even less good still for fighting it back up the steps after I finished and heaving it back up into the truck.

I say, How can that be?

I had to get my wife and daughter to help me heave the yellow dirt vibrating machine back up into the truck. I couldn’t do it on my own, because it was oddly-shaped.

My wife tells me of another man who was opposed to a pool, his wife told my wife about it. But luckily, his parents had built a pool, and now the man and his wife lived in the parents’ house, so they have a pool now, even though he opposes pools.

I say, how lucky for them.

Our new pool is in the cellar, in several boxes. It is an above-ground pool, a foot deeper and a meter and a half longer than our last pool.

The directions say it can be assembled right on the dirt, it doesn’t need a concrete slab. But the dirt must be perfectly level, and solid. If the soil sinks after you put it up, the pool will lurch to one side, burst and flood your house.

The boxes in the cellar weigh a ton and appear to contain several thousand parts, including screws. The pool was made in Canada. Length can vary, the pool company fellow told my wife. Canadian pools are like that.

The instructions are in several languages, including English, French, and Spanish. The English instructions were so confusing and written in such arcane pool argot that I asked my wife to have the company send us German instructions.

And Gerhard, my wife tells me, his wife said he was so against the pool.

He didn’t want a pool, so my wife, who is in marketing, offered them our old pool in front of his wife and children, little blonde girls with big blue eyes.

My wife tells me she met Gerhard somewhere and he told her proudly that he’d been able to assemble the pool all by himself, and the kids were already swimming in it and having the time of their lives. He seemed happy that he hadn’t needed to ask me for help putting it together, my wife tells me.

Not as happy as I am, I say.

Note to Evco staff

Communication by email until technical difficulties sorted out. metamorphosist {AT} gmail.com.