Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I don't feel like talking tonight.

Came home and wandered upstairs where Jerry was putting up a Dead Man, he said.


He nailed lengths of two-by-four together and made a tall T-shaped post. It now stands slim and long with arms out to support a tarp keeping the exposed upstairs room dry. With hard work, aggravation, and a new hammer, Jerry is carefully reassembling the house into a better space.

Why a Dead Man, I ask.

When you're on a job site, this does a job, but it's not a real man. They call it a Dead Man, he said.

Huh, Dead Men are so simple.

So, tonight a Dead Man holds the blue tarp up against a sky about to unload days of blinding rain too intense for the earth to drink in.

I could use a few Dead Men. One to keep me awake and alert when I doze at my desk at work at the computer at a meeting and on my feet.

I need a Dead Man to drive me home some days when I want to nap. I need a Dead Man to talk to, because my tone of voice as I address my dogs, my support group, scares them. The rock in the woods where I sit and make my small pleas to the dusk is certainly tired of my scratching voice. Glaciers heaved this stone to the surface, gouging it with a story and a history, and I'll drive it back.

Today is blunt and ugly against me, and I'll try again tomorrow for a better welcome.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Overheard: Some people enter this world poorly equipped to handle it.


Overheard: It's not human anymore. It's an outsider now.

The movie upstairs is scary. A demonic kind of scary that makes me afraid like I am small and mom wants me to get something from the disagreeably damp, dark stone basement.

Two weeks ago as I dropped a heap of laundry on the floor I heard something batting against the skylight. Rhythmically it collided and retreated from the glass. A bird? I stood below the window and looked. Nothing moving, but I saw a dragonfly perched on the edge of wooden molding. Had to be him.

Days later I saw his body face up on the wooden shelf. His legs were bent the way all things fold in death. The body turns in on itself. Life eases out like whispers. Free and roaming they leave behind their old clothes.

I had forgotten about the dragon fly, and I realized I could have spared him the spider's sticky binding. Four wings made more by thought than substance. One is torn. He struggled. I leave him where he sits on the counter, afraid to touch something that did its best to elude me. Huge eyes like black and gold oblong stones smoothed by water.

Several days later I hear something batting against the skylight...

Another dragonfly, and I am going to save this one. Trying to reach him with a broom for a few minutes, I finally leave for work.

Back to that heap of laundry. Letting the socks and crumpled shorts fall from my grip I hear something hitting the recessed lights and low ceiling overhead and I scream. Dragonfly….Grabbing a pint glass with a scene of Paris on the side and an overdue AT & T bill, I trap him. We walk outside. Goodbye dragonfly.

Is it their time of year? Is something driving them inside?

Reading about them brings me no answers, but some funny information: Female dragonflies lay eggs in or near water. The eggs then hatch into nymphs. Most of a dragonfly's life is spent in the nymph form, beneath the water's surface, using extendable jaws to catch prey.

They breathe through gills in their rectum.

They can rapidly propel themselves by suddenly expelling water through the anus.

I have to tell Jerry!

Lily perks up at my excitement.

Since their rectums did not propel them into the house, I stand there holding this question -- whywhywhywhywhy -- but it's as slick as an egg yolk.

Putting on my shoes that morning Jerry and I talked about aliens. I will believe that sooner than I accept religion -- the stuff of imagination and hope. The stuff of dreams and effort.

Aliens might be everywhere. They could be in the dust, Jerry said. They could be insects.

Agreeing with him I say, yeah, not all life has to be our size.

We may not even know about them, he said.

I have heard him say before that mosquitos, for example, could be the aliens, not a science fiction monster.

One more thing about the dragonfly: some nymphs even hunt on land, an aptitude which could easily have been more common in ancient times when terrestrial predators were clumsier.

Now for the rough stuff about dragonflies. Depending on the country, a dragonfly could be called the devil's darning needle, ear cutter, eye poker, eye snatcher, or are often associated with snakes, such as the adder's servant. Says the Internet: The Southern United States term "snake doctor" refers to a folk belief that dragonflies follow snakes around and stitch them back together if they are injured.

Also found online: A seasonal symbol in Japan, the dragonfly is associated with late summer and early autumn. More generally, in Japan dragonflies are symbols of courage, strength, and happiness, and they often appear in art and literature, especially haiku.

Dragonflies visit.

Two with gold eyes come to me.

Autumn on their wings.

Well, it's not perfect, but it's mine.

Maybe I'll try a haiku for Lily one day.

Monday, September 27, 2010

My thoughts are sharp and barbed about work, drivers, people in check-out lines, strangers in a gas station, and my cats.

Upstairs like distant applause of many tiny hands rain slaps against a blue tarp ruffled by wind and water, but clinging tight where nails bind it to rotten plywood.

Off came the roof the other day and there, eaten by weather mold insects water and mildew was splintering plywood that sagged. Eek.

I get home and look upstairs at Jerry where he works to rebuild a room he peeled open like a can and tossed on the ground. Under the cover of a temporary cris-crossing of two-by-fours he is dry and happy. Rain taps overhead.

You taking the dogs out, he asks.


In the rain.

Yup. Lily was jumping yelping nipping spinning since I walked in.

I don't want to ponder coincidences today.

Instead I take out a picture I shot in Maine.

Sunshine sends its pastel shades to push away night's bruised hues. Dew sparkles. The forest soaks in honey.

Lemon-tinted stains slip across tree limbs and pine bows, drip down trunks and chase shadows puddled near stones in the ground.

Sunlight rises like steam, and campers' dawn fidgeting adds to the white noise of living things.

My thoughts are sharp and barbed about work, drivers, people in check-out lines, strangers in a gas station, and my cats.

Upstairs like distant applause of many tiny hands rain slaps against a blue tarp ruffled by wind and water, but clinging tight where nails bind it to rotten plywood.

Off came the roof the other day and there, eaten by weather mold insects water and mildew was splintering plywood that sagged. Eek.

I get home and look upstairs at Jerry where he works to rebuild a room he peeled open like a can and tossed on the ground. Under the cover of a temporary cris-crossing of two-by-fours he is dry and happy. Rain taps overhead.

You taking the dogs out, he asks.


In the rain.

Yup. Lily was jumping yelping nipping spinning since I walked in.

I don't want to ponder coincidences today.

Instead I take out a picture I shot in Maine.

Sunshine sends its pastel shades to push away night's bruised hues. Dew sparkles. The forest soaks in honey.

Lemon-tinted stains slip across tree limbs and pine bows, drip down trunks and chase shadows puddled near stones in the ground.

Sunlight rises like steam, and campers' dawn fidgeting adds to the white noise of living things.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Looking through the glass I watch him bend. Sunlight paints his shoulders as he stabs a beach umbrella into the dense, wet sand. The umbrella's scalloped edge flaps and brushes the horizon, its cloth fringes tickling far away tree tops. I crouch lower and sky slips between slightly folded canvas, his carved upper arms trap clouds and swatches of baby blue with him under the shade that he props on the beach. A straight-edged profile. Slender nose. Lower lip pinched to a perfect angle. Tossing my gaze through the lens I follow the contours.

Just a man with hands wrapped around an umbrella post, he leans down. I dip below him, shooting his profile against the sky. A flash.

Photography is about shapes. It is light. Distances. Patience. It is either frustration or surprise, but rarely just right.

Jerry tells me, I am sure these photographers take hundreds of shots, and you're just seeing their best.

I am crumbs on the couch, flipping through a photo mag like it's a blender.

What can I say? Hmmmmm.

Back on the beach. Dropping the umbrella he sits beside his girlfriend. Toes in the water she splashes him and I stop the droplets. My shutter opens long enough to trap shards of light slipping through beads of water.

Then a beach blanket. She turns to press a hand on his shoulder and leans toward him.

On their feet she laughs, hair flying. In his arms he dips her shoulders toward the water and her feet reach the sky.

Later I tell Jerry, they were great. They were playful and happy and perfect.

With a smirk: like you and me, he asks.

He is tough and dirty now with sawdust and grime coating him, making creases in his skin. A few days later, standing in the same place in the kitchen, he shuffles toward me. Droopy eyes and skin soaked with the warmth of sleep, I hug him and press my cheek into the smooth curve beneath his chin.

Photography is a bad dream.

Early pictures of Lily still scare me. Within her shiny eyes I see a vibrance trapped inside diminishing flesh sucked tight to her bones. Where else would that spark of life go? Fur without luster. No longer loping, she pulls heavy feet along behind her or just stops to hang her head. How long did she have left in that photo?

I took few pictures of Lily when she first came to me. No reason to remember days when death was close enough to touch every time I ran a light hand down Lily's knobby spine.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I am singing this song that goes LilyHersheyBanditOzzyLilyHersheyBanditOzzyLilyHersheyBanditOzzy.

Most days that's a great tune, but right now I want them all to just shut the hell up…

Monday, September 20, 2010

Standing alone in the bar with a glass of Merlot, just me and my hopes and the dark. I heard James McMurtry's words shoot from the speakers like well aimed darts. I sipped my wine, swallowed a hint of envy, and began writing down his abrupt, poetic, and sad bursts of words. Little drops of ink sinking in.

Little things. Old photographs, beer, bitterness, standing at a window alone, the flavor of regret like bile clinging to our teeth, are the heavy heavy things that sink us.

We are all a danger to ourselves. The mistakes we make are wasted as we cover our ears and look for something nice, shiny, and distracting. We grasp the bright flash and disregard the lessons.

I glanced past the stacked and clean drinking glasses, over rumpled bar rags, to peer nearly 18 years into the distance where I find an old boyfriend's handwriting in my hands. I remember holding a James McMurtry tape with a red and white strip along the top where faded ink letters ran together.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

To my writing rants a friend has replied with tips he found on his own….

Writers sit at their desks for hours, wrestling with ideas.

Maybe. I tend to wrestle the blank spots, however.

They ask questions, talk with other smart people over drinks or dinner, go on long walks. And then write a whole bunch more.

Actually, I have no comment at all for the previous statement. It just makes these damn brainy writers look like swingers or wife-swappers…

Men and women sit at a desk and force themselves to translate profound ideas into words and then to let those words lead them … writing can be magic.

I see a sentence drifting overhead, then struggling against a mental gravity hauling it into the writers head where it becomes bloody chum. Working its way through, the pulp reshapes and oozes out onto a silky page. Some writers' thoughts churn out beautiful patterns and sprays of imagery and thought that strike readers' minds permanently; they are accurate, sharp hatchets.

I often feel that my own pile of spilling words is small. I poke at it with fingertips rubbed raw from the poking poking poking. Can the words lead? Yes. Can the words be magic. Yes. The blackest magic ever. Writing is to put a spell on yourself and to look way into the corners of your brain for wounds to pick, tender spots to press with your thumb, and once-bright memories that often need CPR. Oh yeah, you're gonna bleed.

Words tug me along heroically, urging me toward the end of a sentence. Some of these words will divide the duty as a few get behind me to push. I arrive at the end of these strings of words as if I just woke up. Looking behind me I find a carnage of broken letters and marks left by my heels dragging along.

And here is one that I really like:

When you are actually writing, and working as hard as you should be if you want to succeed, you will feel inadequate, stupid, and tired.

Well, let me lay down my lance! I am there!

Inadequate, stupid, and tired come up whether I am writing or not. Today the three left me standing there in public with thousands of dollars of camera equipment in my hands saying, I just don't know what I want! Honestly, I don't know that much about lenses…

The Camera Shop Guy went through my gear saying, well, here is a wide angle, here is a standard 50 mm. Grabbing my 35 mm to 70 mm he says, this one is junk. With another lens in hand he says, this is a decent lens … you have range. What you're missing is a telephoto. So, what are you looking for?

I told him, I don't know. I will know as soon as I look through it.

He hands me a really good looking 85 mm. I slap it on the camera and look. I look i look i look. Nothing. I don't want this lens, but can't spit out a reason.

Do you like it, he asks.

I say, well. No.


Can't really articulate that…

I get the blank look and again the question, what do you want? What will you be doing?

I tell him, I am doing some stock images. It's not in a studio, but at different locations. I am looking at one, two, three people at once in different settings. I want to pull them to me in sharp focus in the foreground, with a blur behind them.

Pointing to the 85mm, he says, that's the lens.

To myself I think, it's not the lens. I just looked.

I look through another lens or two, then look at my sad little lens family spread out on the counter.

As I twist a 24 mm and focus on a stack of papers, I see him unscrew a filter on my 50 mm and say, What is this filter? He says this like it smelled bad or just swore at him. I wish that it had.

I decide to take my junky lens, stinky filter, and indecision home. I sit sadly in Jerry's truck, unable to look out the window at ugly Stamford and its camera snobs. If I had known what I wanted, I could have used the damn Internet and ordered it for myself. I guess I went there hoping they could help me find a lens. I should not think such stupid things.

We step outside where I do a little swearing on the sidewalk. I did not want to spend $1,300 without being certain. That cash could buy me tattoos, nice, crisp ink for which I would readily cough up more than a grand. We leave.

I read something from another friend about wine and hangovers. Sounds good to me.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Crushed rocks shattering stone gargling marbles are spewing from some woman's mouth on TV.

What the hell is wrong with her????

She has just been smoking 40 packs a day for years, Jerry said.

Is this show for real, I ask.

It's another one f those reenactments. I can't watch this, he tells me.


For Erin again. Keep unraveling your thoughts and stitching them on the page.

Today I read through a few more creative writing tips. I find the following: a really good story can compensate for less-than-brilliant writing, but brilliant writing will not save a bad story.

First of all, a story is built on words. The wrong words will get you nowhere. I suspect I now hear the pages of some good story somewhere falling from the reader's grip. The reader wants spice, something daring bold determined hard strong abrupt surprising and overall, endearing. As in, I don't want my dress to fit well, just like a good story, I want it tight, bright red, with black laces zigzagging up the back.

A well worded sentence is also not an example of good writing. It's white noise. Be outlandish. Be honest.

Nope. Brilliant writing saves everything. Perfect and beautiful and magical writing leaves its characters and plot way down below until they shrink like specks. Good writing is the clothing hung on a character. It is the reason we pause, forgetting about the plot, and tilt our heads back to better hear the words again and again.

I have never arrived at the end of a book, slapped its covers shut, and said, wow, what a great story! I have sat in wonder of a person's dexterity with words. They are not bricks. You don't line them up and build a good story. You fling them wide, chase after them, rearrange their meaning, use them like little blades to cut the precise meaning from the muck. You twirl that same tool around, aim it differently and swing it like a hammer. Words have a job that no good story can carry. Whether by force, or stealth they must creep under your skin or into your ears where they'll remain. Now those are good words.

I think Lily is a good story, but if some obedient student had believed that a good story could compensate for brilliant writing, the student may conclude that more effort should go toward plot than prose. The writer may go on about Lily's day, but forget about Lily. Wrong wrong wrong! You need to let your head run and the words billow out, then fix the mess with an eraser. What will this student have when the good storylines run dry?

Take out the baking soda, sugar, eggs, and flour, and whip up a strong recipe for internal narrative, then you can write well about any topic anytime. Good words make a good writer, not good stories. Good stories may be amusing, but good writing is memorable. What ass gave such limp advice about a good story. I want to reach into the Internet and take a potato peeler to this person.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Longer than the Great Wall, the Parks and Recreation Commission meeting crept through its agenda while I napped, woke, napped, woke, and members had barely reached the end of a sentence.

Arriving home I wade through dogs, drop my camera bag, and fall on the couch near Jerry. A commercial melts the surface of my eyes into a glassy pool and wipes expression from my face. I realize seconds later that I hate TV. I hate TV I hate it. I hate that all modern American living rooms are arranged around the TV. TV, where all the couches and chairs are aimed right at it. Screw you TV.

Anyway, I glance back at the commercial as stupid words chirp from someone's mouth: If you experience bleeding, loss of vision or lightheadedness …

I yell, It's stupid, It's an unnatural, medicated screwing. Don't take it!!!

I stuff my middle finger extra close to the actress on TV. Static charge tickles my skin.

Jerry says, it's TV, who cares what they say.


I drop downstairs and sit at my computer, thinking of things that I hate. After a few long days I am worn out, a little tired after tonight's meeting, which lasted longer than death, and I am cranky from the lousy TV.

I think of slick entrails slipping through my fingers. Warm, copper scented guts. I take this to mean that I want to kill my TV. Truthfully, I do.

I looked up the word disembowel, just so I could sing along: deprive of entrails.

Shall I say to the chicken the cow the fowl the pig, I am sorry …and as I wind their lower intestines around my fork like spaghetti, I'll add, so , sorry, but you have been bad today, and you can't have these again until tomorrow, when you apologize for that commercial….

You may think I sound nuts, but that meeting was really long.

Lots of aggression lately and I have no real place to toss it. Doubts, like little worms, slurp my thoughts up.

OK. Maybe a glass of wine and my book will help. Today the writing is like etching sins into my skin.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sometimes writing is like swallowing buckets of sooty coal and spitting out itty bitty specks that glint in the sun. No diamonds here.

Soon I'll need to crawl carefully inside my head, searching patterns in the dust for clues. I think my subconscious tip toes around up here and jumbles the wires to confuse me. I still have a smell that connects me to a memory. I reach, and it's gone.

In my head today is a speck of time at the bar last night. Less than a minute. A customer sits and orders a Corona. Pushing a slice of lime into the bottleneck I hand him a beer. Watching me, then glancing over my shoulder he asks, what do you do if there is a fight around here?

Turning to see what he sees, I pick out The Angry Guys. I move. As I reach the group of maybe six or seven people -- a few guys with their girlfriends -- one guy pushes another. The little tableau of strained faces and postures at odd angles seems to shimmer, poised for the next move.

Stepping toward the man staggering back from the push, I hold out a stiff hand at him and anticipating a return swing, I say, don't.

To grim stares I turn to look at the other guys. To them I say again, Don't. Done.

Walking back to the guy sipping his Corona, I answer, I don't know what I would do if there was a fight in here. Let them exhaust themselves, I guess, then shove them out the door.

He tells me, they are friends, you know.


Later I mopped over the spot where they stood, swiping any angry impressions away.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I dedicate the following entry to my friend Erin, who deserves it. She is a creative girl with shoes to match each experience. Hers are shoes few others could fill.

Drop all your words on a page Erin, and rearrange them later.


Advice from a writing website: start a blog.

Yup. All started...

Use it to talk about your own writing process, to share your ideas and experiences, or to publish your work to a live audience.

I am not interested in my own writing process, but I will share it. I am random. It's not method, but purpose. I had soaked up so much Lily that I needed to wring it out and purge. The blog is my sturdy receptacle.

Ideas and experiences all shine inside the glass walls of my blog. Yup. Everything is visible. I needed a place to put the thoughts and feelings I was having about Lily. The blog's first sentences popped into my head and from that moment, GoodGirlLily began.

The website for writers stated, you are a writer so own up and say it out loud: “I am a writer.”

I say aloud: I am NOT a dork who will chant and cheer for myself.

Own up? Writing is not a drug habit. Maybe it's an affliction, like some obvious itchy rash you can't clear up, but do I really need to own up?

I know the author was aiming to encourage new or timid and uncertain writers who pour crap on the page, then swirl it around with their fingertips.

The next piece of advice is OK. The website instructs the reader to, let go of your inner editor. When you sit down to write a draft, refrain from proofreading until that draft is complete.

My inner editor has my mom's angry voice: that sentence is RUN-ON! Your verb is WEAK and PASSIVE.

My own voice joins this one, reminding me that I hate using THE thousands of times like a railroad tie just to get through a sentence. So I am always reworking things to most concisely express a thought. While THE is unavoidable, I hate using THE like a staircase when a good, strong jump will do.

For anyone wondering why I upended the bucket and dropped commas quotation marks and formal punctuation -- this is a blog, so I am letting my hair down.

The website says that when you sit down to write a draft, refrain from proofreading until that draft is done. OK. Get your thoughts out uninterrupted, then reshape the soppy clay. OK.

Proofreading does not mean grammar and spelling corrections alone. Can I make the thoughts clearer or the phrase better? Is it boring? And I often find a lead or pick up an image while I am clunking around doing laundry and my mind is essentially off. There I stand poised with a cap spilling dark blue laundry soap and I remember Lily with her head draped over the seat as if she were a wet towel as limp as seaweed, looking back at sickness sprinting on nimble bare feet to catch her.

Well it missed. Shithead. You missed. Almost got us though.

I remember a college student interviewing me and asking about writing. Did I follow The Pyramid plan as I built a story? Did I answer who what when why where or how.

I told her, nope.

I am not giving myself credit for a creative approach with which I succeeded. Nothing like that.

A formal news writing course or journalism training never saw me in their classroom. I struggled to write when I convinced a crazy editor to hire me as a reporter. There I sat as a typesetter (who cannot type, by the way. I look at my hands) and wondered how I could become a newspaper writer. It was just a goal without any other thought. I just warned to see if I could do it.

After Crazy Editor had interviewed a few people, she finally called me in.

We talked and admired the nice weather from inside our nice climate controlled building and noted the nice town and nice groups living there when she finally asked, Kendra, do you think you can do this job? Wide-eyed I imagined that she should already have her answer, or I would have never warranted an interview.

So I said, Lorraine, do YOU think I can do this job?

Almost fell off the boat and sunk. But I am here now, writing about Lily who had me blow-my-top angry today. She has got to stop lunging at passing vehicles.

I told Jerry, I was really angry with her. I took her by the fur around her shoulders and sat her down hard, I told him. How long have I been running with her? What is wrong?

The writing site begins by recommending that writers use headlines from magazines for inspiration.

This site I tripped over while adrift on the Internet was today's inspiration.

Erin's post is Lily, numer one hundred thirty five.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

On the brink of a huge emotional blow-out I dream of a baby.

Unfamiliar surroundings. Corridors and rooms and a landscape and stairs are before me and I move through them perfectly until I find the baby. With Baby's head in my palm and squirming arms and legs moving, I hold Baby close to my body and step through the maze of strange space flawlessly again.

I remember details of a pink baby, soft and the slightest weight. metallic surfaces, grays, and a fire pit filled with orange.

Today I come home from work half asleep and resentful that I have to drag myself out again for a meeting when the dogs and dinner and laundry and work around the house are screaming for me to finish. So I look down where Jerry has the ladder planted and flip because it's crushing my plants. I am pissed all over again for every argument we have ever had about plants.

He has decided I do not appreciate the hard work and labor he has put into improving our house. I think Jerry is insane to stay with me.

It's not the plants or the ladder. It's me. Tomorrow I'll pull the covers back and gently nudge self loathing and doubt. They're late for dinner as I am being swallowed by my moods, and so is Jerry.

I don't get it.

Monday, September 6, 2010

I imagine a large eraser rubbing back and forth and seconds later I lack enough substance to stay awake. I nod off on the back of Jerry's motorcycle.

We have to get me some coffee, I said a bit later.

How was your nap, Jerry asks.

After closing the bar and getting to bed after 3 am I was back up and in town for the Labor Day Parade that swirled its flags and banged its drums along the main streets. I was up and down and across and back again with the camera. As I had described, community pride swells on Labor Day, unlike any other time or event, pushing people from their homes toward the street. Toes slipping off the curb, residents glanced uphill anticipating the first sight or sound that the procession would soon pass by their eager faces and leave in its wake a path strewn with candy, confetti, and horse droppings. Year after year the town's groups both public and private roll, march, or skip past in celebration.

Kneeling beside a float where children's heads peek down at me, decorative flags clutched in their fists, I swipe bubbles from my view and ask for their names. From behind me a man shouts: you dropped your notebook! He called out just as I felt it slip from my waist band where I wedge the flip pad. It's easy to reach and easy to stash right there at the small of my back. Got it! I swiped the fluttering thing off the pavement.

More than two-and-a-half hours later I was near the grand stand as the last tractor rolled by and a line of traffic, which marked the exact place where the regular world pushed to resume, followed a police car. Waiting there for Jerry to find me on his motorcycle, I watched as volunteers promptly cleared the potted mums, stacks of hay, and makeshift stage assembled on the back of a flatbed truck. Someone released a cluster of balloons that would rise until it burst. Bye bye balloons.

Soon I am back on the bike where I nod off.

The dogs only got a brief time in the woods today chasing tennis balls.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Once for every blade of grass, he barked. For every stone in the driveway and every cloud. For every raindrop or breath or petal in bloom, he barked. Thanks Ozzie.

Across the street was a lawnmower and a more distant grinding sound. Debris fed into a chipper? What a ridiculously loud morning.

Later I run with the dogs until I hear nothing other than wind and a forest floor crunching underfoot.

I catch pieces of The Stand on TV and Jerry announces: Thank God it's over. I can't do another 30 seconds of Stephen King.

You like this stuff that makes no sense, he asks.

Yup, I answer.

We hear Lily's growly bark spread through the woods and echo off trees standing with indifference to wildlife clambering up and down its trunk, nesting in its branches, and the cold and the heat and Lily's voice slipping past knots and limbs.

That's your dog barking, Jerry said.

Dogs and doggy things are strewn throughout the house. Can't stride with confidence or urgency without jamming a toe against an aluminum food dish that slaps like a cymbal across hardwood and into the rocking chair.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My mood is a perfectly symmetrical, matching set of cement shoes….

I absorb my moods through my surroundings.

Wishing Jerry was not holding his hands up in front of his eyes I tried to explain: you bring your moods with you, right?


OK. I sometimes soak my moods up from my surroundings, I told him. Here is an example that would be hilarious if it were not about me. We were out at a big bar/restaurant and I needed to use the ladies room. But the floor was too slippery. I couldn't walk on that floor. Someone would have to help me. Maybe a waitress or the bartender? I would never make it, step by frightened step all the way across that slick surface.

Embarrassed, but immobilized, I told Jerry, I can't walk across the floor. I'll slip.

He was wide-eyed.

Grabbing a waitress I confessed, I am afraid I'll slip on the floor, could you walk with me….

Sounds like I take pills and the room tips, doesn't it? Nope. Sounds like I am stoned and imagining things, right? Like a boyfriend I had in college who decided that some acid would be nice. He told me that he thought he saw a small question mark crawl out into the room and grow bigger and bigger.

The slick floor was the prompt of a really corrosive mood and my mind sort of gave up. My surroundings swallowed me. Really.

I can't get on Interstate 95 if my mood woke up with the strength of Balsa wood, rather than oak. Some days I can't talk to people. Well, I can. I can even sound normal, but overwhelmingly I do not want to reach inside and drag out my voice. I do so with protest. Then, just to salt this thick stupid oozing wound are the little devils inside me jabbing at one another with really pointy little swords. I am upset with myself for being such a drag for Jerry. It's not high maintenance. It's undertow. It's not like I can just stop making demands already. I am just overwhelmed and not functioning. Funny thing though … I can pull myself through it without witnesses. Somehow when this horrible mood, which I try to envision as some separate thing from myself -- a paisley business suit with bright yellow stripes and fake leopard waist-band -- grips me, it thrives on attention. I give it tons of fuel by worrying what Jerry must be going through from the outside looking in. He fuels it be being miffed. Takes him quite a long time to finally realize he does not have a tool to tighten whatever is loose in my head, but he is human. He is patient, but he is human, and I am possessed.

If I brush up against poor lighting I become irritable. Too much noise wraps around me and I buckle. If my gaze collides with places I do not like, I am doomed. Do not take me for a ride along Pershing Drive in Ansonia with its cheep, plastic, fluorescent discount stores filled with hopeless people soothing boredom with bargain shopping and by habit and rote filling their lives with crap.

It makes me sad and desperate to see Big Mega Huge Discount Club looming across a city block surrounded by blacktop for miles, and people just shuffling in, shuffling out.

So there we are tonight seated under lighting that bugs me. Jerry, My Friend Gerald. He proposes to stab himself with a fork, perhaps? Glaring up at a low-hanging light, I know he is assessing the cord. Will it support his weight if he wraps it around his neck? My neck? All because the bar was full and they sent us with our drinks to the vast emptiness of a dining room illuminated by bulbs casting a pall across the space. Skin shone with a drained and boodles color. Ick Ick Ick. And my mood is gone. Stephanie comes over with her hair bobbing and takes our drink orders. Ick. Her brow splashes shade across eyes pushed deep in her face above cheekbones glowing with this life-sucking light.

Oh, what a bad night. The seats were wrong and the lighting was like a dishrag and I just did not have the capacity to twist my expression into Normal Face. This was close to my shut-down mode, but not all the way there where I hear and see, but my eyes are frozen to a spot on the ground and I just hunch over. Jerry drove my inert unblinking body all the way to Maine while I was like this. The long car ride on ugly highway the whole way just smothered me.

Sometimes I write as if I have been holding my breath, and other times I stare at my fingers limp on the keys waiting for the words to come. Enough with the dramatic moods. Where is Lily, who whips through the woods with feet made of springs?