What the ghost said to me

Listen: maybe your big chance is a lot of little chances.

Listen: Maybe this is as good as it gets.

Here try this: open yourself to the awesomeness of your existence. Throw away your garbage. Give time. Love. Listen. Tenderness. Care. Listen. Pay attention.

Do it more slowly but without interruption and until it is finished or the bell rings. Like building a bird house, and if no bird would want to live in it when you’re done THROW IT AWAY and do something else.

Listen, said the werewolf to the trapper. That ain’t silver, is it?

There’s a mermaid

There’s a mermaid in the river down by the chemical plant. They said she’s black and white but it’s the Sixties so who knows? I’m going there tomorrow with a lunch box of sardines and a baseball bat. There’s a spare tub in the basement where she can stay. If only she gets to know me I’m sure she’ll like me. Do you like salt water or is tap okay do you like sardines the smelt run isn’t for a couple months. I’ve got a ukulele we can sing all afternoon when I get home from school I know you like to sing it’s what everyone says. If you only get to know me, I’m sure you’ll like me.

Who knew that you could die of grief? It only made me quiet and unpopular. Who knew death was an option, down there in my twilight tub? Dead mermaids are so heavy limp and floppy. Should I feed her to the cats they’re scratching on the door like they want in. They said she’s black and white but that’s just the newsreel footage she’s as blue as you or I. If you’d only get to know me.

The Hot Carwash of Self-Knowledge

I had an extra hour on my lunch break so I decided to go to the Hot Carwash of Self-Knowledge, which is like a normal carwash, except a person dressed like a belly dancer does a mind meld with you and says, “These are your pluses and these are your minuses. This is what makes it nice to be around you, and this is what makes it a pain in the ass. This is what is good for you, and this is what is bad for you.”

The Hot Carwash of Self-Knowledge is always right.

Except I got real lost. It was over on the other side of town and I got mixed up on which street to take. I turned too early and when I realized and turned to cut over to the right street it was too late and I nearly went onto the freeway. Then, just like that, I was in FARMLAND and passed a sign saying, “Thanks for visiting Vienna”. I had left the city limits!

I eventually found my way there, but it was an art-supply store and I had wasted two hours trying to find it — all of my lunch break. I bought a few basic book-binding supplies for this secret project and was half an hour late getting back to the office. Fortunately no one noticed.

I would fear that I’m going senile and have to start pinning my name and address to my shirt when I go places, but getting lost is not uncommon for me, albeit that was pretty epic.

It crashes down with the dead weight of a rusty bulldozer falling into blackberries, into the tough vines that pulled it back to earth when it had fought its way heavenward. A tractor freed from gravity, momentarily, rising in an anomalous moment before normalcy brought it crashing back to earth, blade askew.

Sometimes you open the dishwasher and stray metaphors come out, fogging your glasses like steam.

It snowed just now

I stood out on the sidewalk watching it, using a sewing machine as an umbrella. Wearing my bowler hat. An umbrella wearing a bowler hat is absurd. The cat had a worm. Possibly more than one, so I took her and her brother to the vet for a pill each. And to make an appt to have her sterilized. They shaved her belly and did an ultrasound to see if she is pregnant, because she refused to pee on the little paper stick.

There I stood, looking at that familiar ultrasound monitor image, trying to think of a good joke, none coming. How will I explain it to my wife if one looks like me, like that. And all the while, big flakes of fallout drifting to earth out the window. Apocalyptic humor.

Freshly-shaved cat belly is a soft thing.

We’ve been looking for the leopard slug, or whatever it was, unsuccessfully. It’s out there, somewhere. It’s a feeling like when the jungle drums stop, you know? That slug is out there.

I hear they come from Spain. Climate change. They come from Spain, like these butterflies a friend found on her oleander come from Greece. Like the butterflies, only way more slowly.

Except, it didn’t snow.

Careers in Science: Noetical Hydrology

Does the tear absorb the ocean or does the ocean absorb the tear? This question is the domain of the noetical hydrologist. Taking a walk along the creek with his younger daughter, the noetical hydrologist finds himself discussing death and grief with her. “I watched you when grandpa died,” she says. “I read in a magazine how long it takes to get over the deaths of various people – friend, parent, spouse, grandparent, and we were both right on the money. I needed about four months. Eight months for you, I think. You always used to be funny. Then you were so sad. Then, afterwards, you were funny again, just not quite as funny as before.”

The noetical hydrologist’s daughter says this to him. The sun has set and the sky is glowing above the cornfield while clouds gather for a rainy night. The noetical hydrologist wonders, is she wise beyond her years or am I just dull? Neither, he decides. She’s the way she belongs, as is he.

Does the tear absorb the ocean or does the ocean absorb the tear?

Thoughts upon getting the car back from its annual tune-up

jetpack1Assistant manager: Here is your jetpack, Mr. Living. It has received the full upgrade.

Customer: Oh, upgrade? Like what?

Assistant manager: Here, listen to this.

Customer: I don’t hear anything.

Assistant manager: Exactly: Stealth Mode.

Customer: Kewl. And what’s this button? [ZZZT!!]

Assistant manager: Careful! Improved-functionality death ray.

Customer: Improved? Sure hope so. That didn’t work half the time before.

Assistant manager: I know. We had lots of complaints.

Customer: It kept breaking. And it was so hard to change the refills.

Assistant manager: That problem’s been solved. No need to change them anymore, you just bring the whole thing back to the shop and we change it for you.

Customer: Um, what? I can’t change them myself at all now? What about the spotlight bulbs. What happens when they burn out.

Assistant manager: Er, yeah, same maximum convenience! We change them for you now.

Customer: I hate that.

Assistant manager: It takes a special tool that only we have.

Customer: I’m almost afraid to ask — what about the fuel cells?

Assistant manager: Er…

Customer: [hovering silently now.] ZZZZT!

Assistant manager: Erk.

Customer: Well, that’s working better anyway.

All along, part of me was afraid something like this might happen

slugfaceMy wife discovered this bad boy out on the terrace this morning. “Honey, come outside and tell me if this is a rubber slug, because it sure didn’t feel like rubber when I grabbed it,” she said.

We have been playing with rubber slugs lately.

Her theory is that this guy is a result of my experimentation with beer and slugs earlier this summer. So I may have to update my findings. Or at least include beer-induced gigantism among garden slugs among the potential effects examined in next year’s expanded study.

It’s really quite a beautiful specimen. Nearly a foot long – I say nearly a foot long, I can say that, as we are dealing with imprecise science here. Nearly a foot long, and fast. It tried to attack my camera when I was taking pictures of it this morning. I am guessing it got into the Heinekken and Red Bull.

Beautiful pattern. I am from the Pacific Northwest, and I have never seen a slug larger or more beautiful than this one. Here is a full-body shot: