Tuesday, August 31, 2010

On hands and knees scratching at the earth…this and other incomplete things bounce around my head today.

Pieces of a dream stick with me: I am separating my hair for braids.

Still chasing a smell in my memory.

I have not been too contemplative today, or observant. I think I was wandering around staring inside at my imagination, thinking about the camera and lighting set up I plan to use in a couple weeks. I do not want to arrive, hook things up, position poles and flashes, a tripod and umbrella, and find a battery is dead a light is out or too bright or too new and beyond immediate comprehension two volunteer models dressed as I have asked wasting their time out here at the beach in the state park getting irritated. My damn flash won't work.

The anxiety is perking up as the work increases. Anticipating plans to come is like watching the 30-foot wave rise up to first cast its shadow across my dazed face.

The shadows have not returned to my peripheral, but I keep thinking I am catching little movements that grow still when I whip my gaze across the room. Little giveaways.

I am convinced that more sleep, and a dose of hypnosis will solve all.

Lily sleeps at my feet.

Jerry is going away to school for a week but we don't know when. So, I worry. He says there is no point in worrying about things you can't do anything about. OK. So the boat is on fire and the extinguishers are empty...I am still gonna worry.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Shuffling through my thoughts like yellowed old newspaper clippings I am trying to remember something that is only coming to me in a scent.

Setting aside the faint, flowery smell like pastel settling on my senses as lightly as pollen, I look for other clues. Erin. She has been in my thoughts like wallpaper. I open a door and look around and see her covering the screen where college memories are scrolling quickly, then stopping on her, scrolling, stopping.

Huge, happy blue eyes. Looking back I recall the mood and feeling of college and a roommate in a new place with unfamiliar faces and accents of another state trying to fit into my ears.

But glancing back at the clear images I poke my attention too closely and upset the glassy surface. We're far from it now.

Did Erin have a favorite perfume or lip gloss, something that soaked into the surroundings of our cramped little space?

Tim. I remember the smell of his house like fading lavender hanging in the curtains and towels of a bay side home down a sandy lane lined with scrub grass. Salty air and heat shimmering. But it's Erin that keeps popping to mind…

I am going to look away and maybe my subconscious will step out of its hiding place and hand me the clue it has wrapped up tight against its chest, unwilling to show me yet.

Today I read a message from Jerry: We caught Chippy!

We captured one of the many chipmunks that escape our cats' mouths as they drop into the house form the open window. The chipmunks -- and often birds -- find a corner where they hide and over and over I reach for the have a heart trap, crackers, and peanut butter. I set up the bait and lay down the aluminum tube.

Great! Another victory that went so much more smoothly than the day I sat down on the throw rug to change into running shoes and a bird flew out of my worn Saucony's toe, zipped past my head, and flailed all over the bedroom. He eventually got out.

Lily came bounding in through the doggy door just now and made her whimpering sounds like she can barely keep down her excitement, which escapes from her in high pitched whines as she tries to tell me: I smell so may things!

The forest sleeps during the day and the squirrels, birds, wind, and I pass unnoticed as the dogs sniff for things to come. Night soon drains the day of light. Millions of eyes will open to reflect moonlight; countless little reflections throw back images of tree limbs and humps of land where the stone and earth rise in a mound or drop away toward a stream. The forest is a nocturnal place that waits. As I run through the paths and pass dried vernal pools, outcroppings of stone, fields of low growing shrubs and fallen trees, I have a sense of trespass. I am passing through a place at rest, asleep, and unable to ask me why I have come. When Lily runs ahead and disappears into the woods where she often eludes me for 10 to 15 minutes while I wander alone calling to her, I believe she is rejoining places familiar to her in the night.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Thoughts escape my head like steam from coffee, and between pinched fingers I hope to pluck from the air a tendril of imagination to savor for the day.

Since Tim and Erin and I reconnected I have scrolled backwards, looking again and again at my surroundings, waiting for the college dorm room and its sandy scent like dust with a dash of powder to graze my fingertips as my hands reach out. The colors and faces from 15 to 20 years ago are clear. Conversations are clear, but like waking from a dream with something pressed tightly in my arms, things dematerialize as I wake, and I sit up abruptly to find I am hugging only myself. I am the only thing I have left over from college except a distressed collection of books that I refuse to cast off.

Twenty years ago I could not have known that years later I would open an anthology, thin pages fluttering like days and weeks through my fingers and moving more rapidly as they accumulate, to Stephen Crane. I have always loved his poem In The Desert …I like it because it is bitter, and because it is my heart.

And in another brief poem where his mind nudges the consequences of sin, and doubts man's significance, his character cries out to the universe, sir, I exist, yet the universe did not care.

Again and again I am aware of a world filled with people separated without walls or doors. Our own inward thoughts keep us apart. I like it, because it is bitter, much like Mr Crane's self-absorbed little beast. The creature in his poem cupped his own heart in his feral hands and ate it.

Then again, things can be so rich if you just put yourself aside and watch.

I sat with my 94-year-old grandmother at a time in her life when she was tired. Oh Mama, she sighed, over and over, when her sense of reality had lifted away from mine momentarily. Her mind slipped briefly and at 94, memories from the little girl she had been searched her head for her Mama. I rubbed her hand until she slept. I read a book and sat across from her bed in a chair glancing at a jumble of letters that meant nothing to me. Sir? I exist…but alone in a darkened room with just a reading light splashing the pages, I felt the world expand and rush away.

Other days she would toss out words lucidly and told me -- many times -- that her mother was a saint. Seventeen children of her own and enough patience for the whole neighborhood. The closer she came to seeing her mother again, the calmer she became. Me too. She was drifting toward comfort and one day she woke hugging her mother, and the cradling arms were really there.

Goodbye grandma.

I have been looking backwards. I have been pondering, so I thought I would stare at the past a little while longer. I'll consider the fox tomorrow.

He has been out there again. Lily has just about learned to pronounce Henry, and she barks his name into a sooty, charcoal night.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

He smells something, Jerry said.

We watched Bandit zip from window to window with his snout raised, sniffing.

Maybe it's the fox again, Jerry said.

I wonder if it would come back, I answered.

Why wouldn't it?

Carolee dragged it out by its tail?

I had called animal control the other day to come encourage my little interloper to leave. If I had more time I would have opened the door and allowed the breeze and singing birds to beckon, but the dogs were restless upstairs and four eager noses were pressed against a sliding pocket door. With the right nudge it would start to open.

Carolee Mason walked in with the rugged gloves good for grabbing things with claws. We saw his little ringed foxy tail and she pulled gently and he fell toward us. One front paw tried to hold on, but he slipped from the crevice in the basement where he had wedged himself between wooden framing and the foundation stones. Dropping him to the floor he loped and scurried toward daylight and left the house. Rushing outside Carolee said, Aw, I thought he would turn to look back at us…

But you pulled his tail, I laughed. He was out and free.

I sat down at the computer to work one night and as always, Lily sniffed at the cats that had dropped in through the doggy door. I suspect that a previous night's set of eyes watching me belonged to the fox. Lily sniffed him, and no other dogs really bothered to come in. The next morning Lily was excited about something in the basement and when I tugged on her collar to pull her away from the cat, I realized it was a fox. His pale custard face and amber eyes watched me. He sat still with his darker front paws crossed. I urged Lily out of the room, then stuck my head in to look at him. Water.

He must be thirsty? I wanted him to like me and for some reason the name Henry filled my head. I went to get water for Henry.

Water in hand I crept back in and Henry and I stared. I placed the water a couple feet from his nose and kept my voice calm. I left the room to make a few calls about helping him out of the house. Without dogs to worry about I would have had no concern at all, but I think the dogs are the reason he showed up. When I looked for him again he had hidden.

Several days in a row I had been wondering what was digging and creating all the loose soil just outside the dog pen. I showed Jerry.

It looks like something digging on the outside, I said.

Bending to look at the bottom pieces of fencing, Jerry said that it looked bent inward.

For a few nights in a row the dogs were restless, more than their usual barking at deer moving noisily across dried leaves and debris on the forest floor.

Lily was running right toward the spot where I found the loosened soil.

Then Henry showed up.

What does this mean?

What I have read so far: As animal alchemy symbols, foxes are the cultivators of the Elixir of Life. They were also thought to be able to transform themselves into human form at night and visit the elderly, giving them sips of the mystical Elixir to prolong their life and health.

According to my household myth, foxes transform themselves into fence creepers, and slip inside the dog pen at night. They cross the weeds and ground, traipse down fieldstone steps, and hop in through the doggy door. They next find a cool place to hide in the basement, which smells even more beastly than the great outdoors.

Other things I have read: In many cultures, the fox appears in folklore as a symbol of cunning and trickery, or as a familiar animal possessed of magic powers.

Or, In Finnish mythology, the fox is depicted usually as a cunning trickster, but seldom evil. The fox, while weaker, in the end outsmarts both the evil and voracious wolf and the strong but not-so-cunning bear. It symbolizes the victory of intelligence over both malevolence and brute strength.

The list continues from culture to folklore to mythic belief, but I like to think that I was writing another fable for Aesop: The fox and the Ass who named him Henry. Or, the fox and the Ass carrying water. The Ass that saw the fox?

He worked hard to get inside. He sat quietly when he saw me and only crept away when I was out of the room. He visited despite the scent of four dogs, and likely repeated encounters with them through the fence before he entered.

Several months ago I came home from the bar to hear the fox barking its screeching little yelp. It was sitting a few feet away from the dog pen looking in as the dogs looked out.

Was he bringing comfort and thanks to me for helping Lily who was probably a familiar nocturnal presence in his woods until I found her, starved by disease and full of ticks. I run with the dogs in the same woods. He must know she is better. Foxes are not large animals, which I associate with power, but they are lithe, which makes me think their minds must be equally as nimble as they decide rapidly where they can safely land their next step.

Monday, August 23, 2010

We slip through branches spider webs fallen trees and stones pushing through the earth like bubbles, and I hear things. Twigs snapping in the distance. Something falling from above and swiping at leaves as it rushes toward the ground.

With heavy plodding feet my imagination steps heavily all around me, shuffling through undergrowth. It's near. Hershey runs up behind me and squeezes past me while Bandit's tail quivers and he digs. Lily reaches the hilltop first, pushes past the crooked tree that I use as a grip to yank my legs over the crest. She's gone -- a distant movement back and forth back and forth at the edge of a short blueberry field. I walk through a spider web.

With the other two I rush over rocks and climb an easy slope where I see the old stone foundation in a brief clearing.

Daydreaming, I remember friendships from years ago. Along with Erin, other people pressed gently into my soft, fluid tissue and left their impressions. Running my fingers across my memories now I find spots in mind where Tim walked through.

Weird how these tenuous little threads to the past suddenly snap tight. I think an old woman's spirit is in charge of everything. She sits, watchful, and knits. She is forever tying together or untangling people's lives with just the right length of thread. With some friendships, like Erin's, she puts down the skein and drifts off, but we're forever connected.

I also spoke to Tim recently and I remember things about school and myself that I had accidentally dropped in the sand and kept walking. Little details come back and I sit here again looking at a past that i can't reach anymore.

For days I have also seen flashes of a favorite image I keep.

I see something more recent. I was bartending one day a few years ago when Jerry walked in with this beautiful kid wedged on his hip like a doll. He walked in all dirty from work with tool belts and grime everywhere, and had this amazing blond wispy-haired child. It's juts an image stuck in my head...I think he dropped off something for the beer coolers and walked back out.

Tonight I ask Jerry, do you remember a day when I was bartending at Cafe 127 and you walked in carrying Erica? It was before we started dating…

No, he said.

Out in the woods standing by the foundation and watching one dog chew her tennis ball, I am waiting for Lily. I think of Tim again. His life has reached around to touch so much of the world. He is bolstered and propelled by ambition and has succeeded with so much. My life is so little. It takes up only a speck of one town on a map. But my life is not small; it's jammed with more emotion than I can handle and these emotions swell, fill with hot air, and carry me along under a rainbow colored balloon.

I think the old woman wove a fox into my story. He showed up in my basement the other morning, and although he is gone now I am sure he is not far.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I want to pull the tiny cork from my inner ear and let my mind out to wander.

Catch a light current like a tissue. Sneak back while I sleep and leave me the gift of a new thought. I'll name it as I wake and love it as my own, which might mean I punch it a few times before saying good morning. Why can't the day begin this way?

Lily arrived out of nowhere too. She didn't shimmer gently, like a film of dreams in my eyes one morning, but crashed into my legs then flopped down by my running shoes. Me, and the two dogs with me.

Folding instantly there in the street as my backbone disappeared, I cuddled down close to this crazy dog that asked for my attention. Did she care that Hershey snarled and Bandit gave his best I Want To Eat You bark? Guess not. Anyway, I am remembering the first time I saw Lily, thanks to an expiration date of December 26 that I saw on the bottom of something, stamped on the carton like a mini connect the dots.

December 26 was the day I drove around the corner to pick up this poor, starving, shit covered dog. This can will expire exactly one year after I adopted Lily on a rainy day after Christmas while Jerry did the dishes and I wondered what the hell I was doing. Actually staring at my muddy boots I thought of one foot, then the other, one foot again, then the other. Just keep moving.

Apparently my mind has wandered like a boomerang. Nothing original here. It returned to me with something old old old. It's OK to think of things again and remember. Sometimes the memory changes and something sitting on the far end of a couch or at the bottom of the stairs becomes clear, finally.

Last night I dreamed someone else's dream. A man raced through fields and crossed closer to a violent river with a scenic overlook. Down the side were distant footpaths narrow like angel hair. This man raced after his dog. I tried to see it but everywhere I turned I saw something different. Living room classroom kitchen a cow field swimming pool pool table stalks of corn rows of mounded dirt. A dog! He raced over the edge and dropped down to a footpath where distance and speed shrunk him into a lady bug. The man arrived and stared down over the edge. He was having a frantic dream of an elusive dog racing through crowds as he shouted and not one stupid bystander heard him.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The dogs and I romp through the same woods where Lily would often disappear for days from her prior owner, so to her these trees shadows stones and valleys are home.

Often she will leave her tattered tennis ball as a trace that she had passed this way before bounding over a rise to blend with the forest's deeper hollows that will slither away like the horizon. Dried leaves and contours in the land fold around her. Hidden in a world of optical illusion she slips through the landscape and is gone. She never runs away, just plays. I caught her once on the way out, zig zagging in happy flips and turns with ears pointed toward the sky and her tongue flopping like a yo yo. That's what she does.

Tonight She dropped the ball and vanished like a time traveler. She let go of here and stepped into there without me. I wandered with the other guys and passed the dried vernal pool, edged upward on a rocky rise, and walked easily where the rocks gave up and grass topped the soil in tufts. Ahead was the stacked stone foundation where holes for doorways remained in the four-sided sturdy piece of surprising make-shift architecture out where no roads lead, no neighbors pass, and sounds other than birds, cracking twigs, and the wind do not exist.

Who had lived on this opportune rise from which the ground slopes outward and down from this point like a skirt?

No Lily. Bandit was losing energy under his thick husky coat in the humidity. We went home.

Returning to the path I have stomped into the forest floor worn from months of running with the dogs, I meander on the crushed leaves, weaving through stones and beneath hemlock. Starting up a slope I nearly reach the top when Lily meats me and we walk home. She occasionally stops to glance back at me to make sure I am coming, I guess.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sadly, reality only stretches as far as I look. Can I see anything beyond that? Not tonight.

Earlier as a leash wrapped around my left hand and Lily tugged me along, my head was in a better place somewhere far outside my skull wandering and dreaming as it played with facts and problems like a toddler, plump legs out, turning a building block over and over, then reaching for something else.

I have just stopped daydreaming, I tell Jerry.

Not too happy here. Too many emotions and frustrations in my head to let natural feelings flow. I am still tripping on this other crap.

Not a great night for either of us, thanks again to me.

The dogs hear the moods quickly and find corners to hide. Lily is downstairs beneath the computer desk.

I get on the Internet and look at a friend's little, flourishing LLC that she advertises. She is happy and as far as life goes, she is really pulling it off. I was sitting in the rocking chair an hour ago, thanking God and magic and Mother Nature for making Jerry a tolerant guy. I am not pulling it off at all. I yank and tug myself through each day only because it's what I did yesterday, and nothing new crossed my mind this morning.

Lily runs inside from the dog pen and jumps on me. Her front paws swipe crumbly soil and mud from my shoulders to my hips, and it smells.

Today I want to choke half the people I meet. Compassion is taking a little nap, but the people waiting for their damn coffees bagels iced teas and lights to turn green are oblivious.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

From the living room Jerry asks, Kendra, where did this letter come from?

What letter, I ask.

Looks like a love letter….

I run over to see, and recognize it immediately. It's from years ago. It's from an affair.

I toss the two-page single-spaced typing on the rocking chair and go back to the kitchen, shaking my head.

Later I fold clothes and hear pages turning.

So, what year was this from?

I think about my former employment, where I met B__ and recall our secrets.

I answer, 2004? 2003?

Jerry said, we met in 2003.

OK, Before that!!!!

When I first met Jerry we went to a friend's retirement party. She was leaving the newspaper where I worked and was moving away.

As most of our office staff sat around ordering cocktails, Emily whispered, Kendra, B__ is out in the lobby and he wants to talk to you.

This affair had meant different things to us. B__ was falling in love and I was running away from Ed. I just happened to run directly into B__ while looking for a way out. I regret it. I finally thought: this is not who I want to be. I don't want to be a cheater. I promptly lost respect for B__ and for myself and although I broke up with Ed eventually, I ended the B__ affair before that. He hung on, going through a heartbreak, writing me letters, and acting like these were little private keys I could use to come back to him. Of course, that's not the whole story, just the chapter headings.

Anyway, B__ showed up at my friend's going away party. I had broken things off months earlier, gone through all the arguments, and was firm. I wasn't coming back, ever ever ever and his persistence started to change him even more in my eyes. I started to lose patience and compassion.

Emily looked concerned. She glanced at Jerry who knew all about B__. He was smashing a linen napkin in his hands, and waiting for a sign from me.

Instead, my friend moved swiftly to the lobby and gave B__ hell. He left.

Back in the here and now, Jerry asked me, can I read this letter?

Well, I told him, it's embarrassing!

I won't, he said.

NO! Go ahead.


I mean, it was before I met you. It was years ago and everything happened the way I had explained...

For a little while I had thought that B__ had followed me to the bar near my house and watched me amid tattoos leather motorcycles noise friends booze booze booze, but that had been home for me where I was happy and with people I liked, and where Jerry and I decided to give one another a chance. He wrote me many frustrated letters and the details and accusations of the bar were clear.

I said, you know Jerry, read it, but it's just creepy! I mean, I don't know what it says!

Shut up already then, and let me read, he said.

No big deal. He read the words and dropped the pages on the coffee table. He kicked them a little, but that was it.

Later, I read the letter myself.

The words hit the page after the affair had ended for me, but still went on for B__. The feelings weren't done yet.

He quoted my past words I had said to him. Throwing them at me like little darts.

He wrote, this whole situation has been twisted beyond recognition…

He reminisces compliments accuses throws more of my own words around.

At the end of the second page, he wrote his name.

I had asked Jerry earlier, where did you find this?

In this yellow notepad, he said.

Huh, must have come with us from my apartment…

Oh well, who cares? My life could have gone in B__'s direction. I might live with a writer in Waterbury and never know anyone that I know now. No Jerry. No dogs. No Lily. I think she would have died if she had stayed at Charlie's.

B__ had written, I don't know what happened to you in your life, but you hide from a lot.

And the part that makes me think he was standing somewhere at a distance and watching me in my little Shelton bar….

He wrote, You hide in toothless bars, at the bottom of a vodka. The man I was with when I cheated with B__ was missing a couple, and I liked vodka at the time. Eek.

But I don't get up and dress everyday for a life with B__.

I get up instead and run with Lily. I wait for Jerry's call every afternoon asking if I want coffee. Stuff it, B__.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I picture my long ago friend Erin living a sepia colored life at home with her children and her husband. To throw a filter over her I think of a mom a friend and someone full of emotion for and about the people she sees.

I remember her from college and recall she was like Saturday mornings -- carefree and open with her thoughts laughter smiles and generosity.

Trading mail back and forth we talked about friends we knew. Some turned out successful or adventurous with a spirit always a bit ahead of them like a sail slapping against a bold mast. Others of us married or never married or have children, have been divorced fallen in love crashed with a broken heart seen dreams come true right along with the disappointments and surprises. I guess you plant it then water it and see if it grows...

Yesterdays are just calendar pages, but cupped in our palms and whispered in our ears before sleep are the tomorrows. If we waste a day, tomorrow is waiting. If we use a day to its fullest and maybe somehow squeeze in extra, tomorrow is waiting.

With this in mind, I will whisper forgiveness to myself for being completely furious with Lily today for lunging at cars. It hurt my already sore back when she yanked me off balance and I tugged hard on her leash with the little nose guard attached. That makes me hate myself. It makes me want to curl around her and love her and make her understand I did not mean it. I want her to tell me it's OK.

I saw a picture of Erin with two of her children. They are flopped half on her lap and half on the couch, sprawled and asleep. She sits looking at them, wondering. Her cheeks curve with a mother's smile as she looks at her children.

I remember Erin sitting on her bed with mascara ready and an eyelash curler on the windowsill. With the morning light she makes up her face. I looked at her then, wondering how each of our lives would turn out and how much our everyday mindless college routines mattered. How would we step out the door after four years of school hangovers heads hung over a toilet bowl after a keg party fights with roommates about curling irons heart breaks as a boyfriend visits to say goodbye. Goodbye. How will we arrive in our futures? I had wondered. Now I realize this chance I have to peek back at myself.

I am forever attached to the things I did or said by a master craftsman's fine filament intertwining my days and folding my history in crisp pleats that ride around with me everywhere. By talking to my friend again I have reached into a secret fold of memory, shaken out this remnant from my past. I smooth it with my hands and refold it carefully, looking for the raw edge where intricate threads can connect more days.

In a few years I want to see me being much better to Lily. Screw my damn back for hurting. I should not have been angry with her.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dreaming of dogs: The image from yesterday's dream has faded like a sun splotch in my vision, but the indigo feeling has soaked into my bones. I recall walking through a crowded festival jammed with booths, and ahead I see the bar and enter.

These busy people are oblivious to me -- it's that sort of dream where I am insubstantial and desperate. I lost my dogs. I ended up leaving through the bar's back door and wandering, then I was driving and the sun was setting. I was lost and without the dogs and the truck was overheating. I know each of these feeling really well, but my crafty bitchy subconscious swirled them all together in a star of sharp little blades.

About the coppery stains coating my truck where Lily bled…That one is still coming to me in little spurting images. The fine pointed brushes that I dip in a well of ragged words still hit the canvas with limp wet smacks. Damn things.

I picked up her stick and realized she had accidentally bitten herself. I looked down and her paws and front legs were slick with red. The drops from her tongue fell fast. Back home I tried to see the cut and I kept pulling at the blade of grass stuck to the underside of her tongue, then I realized it's what I had feared as I glanced at the fine misty blood among the copious dripping. She had punctured something that was squirting out in a fine little stream, just like a blade of long field grass.

To the vet. Immediately the Dr asks her two attendants to lift Lily and get her on the exam table. Wherever the poor dog turns blood flies. Doc shaves a quick little patch of Lily's fur that drops off like a caterpillar, injects her, and I watch Lily's eyes grow darker darker darker, until she is dazed and her blood pressure drops.

Doc opens the door. Get a mop! she yells.

She tells me, It's an artery. We'll see if it needs sutures, but once the bleeding stops and it clots, after 24 hours we're generally home free.

Is Lily a patient here, she asks.

No, but Bandit had come in, so we're in your system, I said.


Address or phone?


Um. I say, not sure. Wow, I guess I never call it, I tell her. I couldn't retrieve my number from among the cluttered crap in my head that had been blown back by the gust of fright as Lily dripped all over me the truck herself.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Doggy anxiety dreams.

Walking through a crowded festival jammed with booths and vendors and people surging randomly, I move with the dogs. Ahead is the place I need to be.

I enter a cluttered shop with busy people and try to grab someone's attention.

No one sees me. I apparently can't make enough noise. Miniature but real dogs are at my feet with heads thrust toward me like bottle brushes.

I'll spit out the rest of this dream once the sour pasty sensation fades. The dream has stayed with me all day today like trying to dissolve a penny like a hard candy.

The smell of copper and flaking rust fills the car where Lily bled, but we are OK now. My creativity is asleep today and pissing me off. I see it all in my mind but no words come except, show, don't tell, but all my little writer's paintbrushes hit the page with splats and stains. No beautiful letters come out.

Anyway, the dogs are OK today my back hurts it's making the backs of my thighs numb my mood sucks I want to yell I should not drive in this mood but am oddly sympathetic to others having a bad day. I just don't want to help. I want to crouch down and wait for the searchlight I recognize in their wild eyes to pass overhead and away, seeking comfort or understanding or relief or a target elsewhere.

When I was a little kid with emotions chugging, I was too small to understand anything. To stop and assess myself and my feelings was as beyond me as adulthood and jobs cars bills and the right to decide if I could stay up late. As a kid I would pick a fight. I think I did this so I had a place to direct my overloads. I still do it now. Extreme bad moods or frustration anger whatever infuse me with the horrible ability to reach out into the scene around me and dig my nails into its placid surface, then rip and shred it apart.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I saw old photographs today from the 1940s. The world was chaos as World War II threatened and the economy took everything out of people's hands and gave it to the war. It shook out all the good stuff of life like emptying the trash.

Two children stood on either side of a barrel filled with potatoes. One little guy's face was wrinkled up and had just too many pleats in it around his chin. I think he was crying. Nothing in the picture tells me why. I now add this little image to the storeroom in my head where I keep Things That Will Bug Me Forever.

I started with just a few shelves I could reach, and now the little carpenters of nagging thoughts have built a sturdy lattice up the side of my head so the Things That Bug Me are never beyond reach.

Questions about Lily are there. Was she kept in a kennel outdoors all the time where she could pace a few steps one way, then back again? (It's a stupid futile cycle of banging your face against the cage over and over and moving without purpose). I do it myself.

Today I picked up the stinky furry dirt covered shit sponge and folded it for Hershey The Couch Hog and dropped it near the couch. A couple hours later I saw her asleep on it. It's a small small small small step, but no hint of a cage or wiring even brushed my cheek.

But little phantom movements have me glancing to the side and wondering what just zipped past. Is stress squeezing my brain and forcing false images out, or is my head just perceiving simple things differently, like my own shadow slipping across objects I pass?

Time for some nice red wine.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Reaching up I place my palms against the sky expecting its bubbles of light to press like tapioca against my fingers. Darker smudges from the trees' canopy protect my eyes and make shapes like bows or trailing ribbons.

In the woods with the dogs I look for Lily's peaked ears.

At home last night Jerry looked at the couch and said, sometimes I am just sick of all these animals.

Above him is a cat on the windowsill. Another cat's tail twitches as it stalks a critter cornered in the kitchen and hiding. The Have a Heart trap sits ready to go as soon as I drag myself up from the couch, which might be like separating myself from Velcro. I just want to stay here and have nothing left to worry about. Dogs are sprawled on the floor everywhere as if they saw the sign outside: free room and board and two meals a day served by the biggest sucker on Earth.

Upstairs I hear Jerry watching a TV show about people who hoard animals. I am NOT an animal hoarder. I just help what I can reach.

I could use a glass of wine tonight...

At home Jerry has the wheels off his new pickup. He is adjusting the brakes.

I tell him, I don't feel like running with the dogs tonight.

Don't, he says.

But the guilt. You know, how would you feel if you skipped working on the truck?

He says, sometimes it's worth it. You don't have to be such a martyr.

Yeah, but the guilt is worse, I tell him.

He is half laughing at me because we have this conversation together at least once a week. I have this conversation with myself everyday.

Getting changed for bed tonight Jerry stops and stares at the corner.

What, I ask.

Look at this house, I wish we had a nice clean house. All the hard work and floors I put in and windows I want to replace and look. He jabs at the cascade of cobwebs clumped in the bedroom. More stingy webs gather dust along a ceiling beam.

Well, what can we do, I ask.

Have you seen the spot where Bandit lays on the bed, he asks.

The corner of our cream colored quilt takes on the pallor of undiluted grime after about a week.

We can put a blanket down, I tell him.

Yeah but then we have a stinky dirty blanket on our bed, Jerry said. It's like the couch cover. It's a stinky furry dirt covered shit sponge, he said.


Monday, August 2, 2010

I want to sponsor an Express Yourself Without Words Day.

To the woman on her cell phone in the gift shop who gabbed like a runny faucet while I waited to purchase a gift certificate: May your skirt get snagged on the door handle as you leave the store and fly away in the wind. May your hair catch fire, and may you sneeze uncontrollably every time you blink.

To the teenage girl who sped past me, oblivious to the deer in the fields and traffic around her: Lift your damn face from your lap where your cell phone sits and look up in time to see the manure spreader blocking your path.

To Lily who grabbed after Hershey's stick and snagged her fur with teeth designed for ripping flesh like perforated notebook paper: I threw an angry punch meant to startle. Nothing. I reached my arms around her neck and bear hugged her. Standing up straight I brought Lily's front end with me and the fight stopped.

Tonight I look at Bandit's one lazy ear flop as he sleeps. Next to him Ozzy's little pug tail unfurls as he relaxes into a rhythmic snoring. Hershey is stretched out and breathing in sleepy little satisfied puffs. Behind me Jerry has his arms thrown outward on the couch cushions. His head is flopped to the side and he sleeps.