Amidst the seeds

He goes into the cellar and the light is already on. Either someone left it on all night, or he left it on for 24 hours, or there was a burglar who turned on the light and thought, nothing worth stealing here, just a bunch of seeds and papers and a broken accordion, or the light turned itself on, as lights sometimes do, especially around the Day of the Dead.

The moon was full last night. He lights candles. He lights every candle he can find and sits amids the seeds and tries to position the candles so that they don’t set anything on fire. He sits amidst the seeds and writes something. First he finds some pens, he has to look all over the room because he can’t recall what box they were in or where he put the  box.

For future reference: the box is under the desk.

Looking for pens, he finds his aunt’s obituary in a drawer full of knives.

Also the box his field recorder came in. Now all he has to find is the field recorder itself. Maybe it’s in the box, he didn’t look inside because he was 1) looking for pens and 2) thinks he looked in the box once already and no field recorder.

The moon was full last night so it should be fairly full tonight, when the spirits are out. He resolves to light extra candles.

It’s foggy, a little foggy. Cold and the world is still. Still and waiting.

He thinks about playing dice.

Careers in Science: Sentimental Meteorology

The sentimental meteorologist lies in bed reading a book about weather, wondering how many other sciences are expected by people to be wrong as much as they are right, and whether that means it’s a good job. He wonders about the most visible representatives of his profession, television weatherpersons, and how they often seem to be the comic relief on the news team — you have the anchorpersons, the sportspersons with the Frida Kahlo eyebrows, and the weatherpersons cracking jokes. As if the anchorpersons are chosen to physically represent journalistic integrity and authority, the sportspersons athleticism and a fascination with statistics, and weatherpersons science itself — a little goofy, a little aspergerish. People you could imagine forgetting their spouses at a rest stop.

The sentimental meteorologist is reading a book about weather because he wants to finally understand what causes fog. The book discusses every type of weather in detail, except for fog.

What  is it about fog, the sentimental meteorologist wonders.

Also, why was a cat sleeping under his pillow last night? What’s up with that? This makes him wonder if cats are a vector for lice in humans, and if humans can get ear mites.

And then everything itches.

Rest stops. The sentimental meteorologist would never forget his spouse at a rest stop, probably. Or a kid. Probably depends how tired he got.

The sentimental meteorologist wonders whether he should have studied optics or something, because of this: he has this idea right now that literature sucks because books contain the wrong light, or none at all. They lack the beautiful light of real life: the changing light of a baseball stadium open to the sky during an evening game, the light of supermarkets, sunrise and dusk, fog. The blue glow of television at night seen from the street by a lonely man. A campfire. A chemical factory burning down. A blinking cursor is no match for these things. Sunlight on snow. Oncoming headlights on high beam. A copy maching copying while left open. The immigration line at an airport at night. Restaurant windows at night in the rain. A squall. Heat lightning of a summer night while the family is out late, burning the brush pile and talking. A car with one headlight. A warning light on your dashboard you’ve never seen before when you’ve just emptied out your savings account. A strong flashlight held to a child’s hand in a dark room, a strong flashlight held in your mouth. Street lights coming on irregularly, or going off, or both. The light native to certain places, like Provence, or the Low Countries, or where the sentimental meteorologist lives. Hazy summer light, clear winter skies, light before a snow: black clouds, bright along the horizon. Natural light, manmade light. A lit apartment seen from a dark apartment. A woman in the bath tub at night seen by whispering boys outside. The light in a church. The light at a funeral not in a church. A light dimming and dying like a pen going dry.

The sentimental meteorologist tells himself that he has the feeling that his soldiers are massing along the border of a country and will invade soon and everything will be okay, but he doesn’t know what country.

Maybe he should have studied geography.

Everyone says fog is caused by water vapor in the air. Duh, thinks the sentimental meteorologist. But how does it get there, in the case of fog? Warm water and cold air? Cold water and warm air? Can’t be the latter, water is usually colder than air, right?

Predictions for 2010

  1. It will be foggy
  2. I will sleep until 8 AM
  3. Which is really late by my standards
  4. The cats will be hungry
  5. But the picky, sensitive red cat still won’t eat anything with the others
  6. It will be foggy
  7. The coffee is done
  8. Everyone else will still be asleep
  9. I will be really happy I didn’t set anything on fire with those pretty big skyrockets I was shooting off last night
  10. From a friend’s roof
  11. Which was made of grass
  12. It will be foggy
  13. And now smells a lot like fireworks
  14. But I did apologize
  15. That’s what happens when you invite pyromaniacs to a New Year’s party
  16. “Party”
  17. Man there were some funny people there
  18. The decade won’t actually end for another year
  19. It’s not hard to figure out. I mean, count to ten.
  20. There: What number did you start with, zero?
  21. Or one?
  22. Putz.
  23. It will be foggy