Sunday, December 31, 2017

Thoughts And Things, 2017

One of my favorite assignments for creative writing class was eavesdropping. 

I sat in a lobby or cafeteria and listened … to the kids having coffee, to professors talking about students, to Professor Keneally who loved vodka and was sleeping with a student, and often mocked beer drinkers. Where does the thirst come from, he asked. 

And I listened to the asshole behind me talking about what I guessed was cheating on his girlfriend. I told her I was running late, he said… 

I knew Karen missed class. I knew the girl with the pottery was frustrated that she had not sold much.

I walked over to see what she had. I loved pottery. My friend Maryanne's boyfriend Jason came by and said, that pottery is nice.

Not as nice as my ass, I said. 

I knew where the guy in the red shirt spent his night. She was hot, he said, we did it while her roommate waited outside. 


Tim at the bar after closing was staring at long shadows cast by overturned stools. He said, I had to eavesdrop too. I wrote down anything interesting. We had to build a whole story around like, a sentence.

Did you like it?

I liked writing in prose, but this assignment wanted dialogue, he said. I was not used to writing that way.

Prose and dialogue, I said. It's the difference between, say, daydreaming and tennis.


Grabbing the scrap of paper, I read what I had overheard: He said, My ass crack was bleeding. I was wearing a thong that night.

For his birthday he wore a sparkling tiara. I loved it. His eye shadow glittered. A true daredevil.

Another day, another comment…

As I walked up the basement stairs and turned to enter the bar, he said, My sister's name used to be Juan Carlos. Now, it's Julia Carmen.

Reading that last note to Tim, he asked, Is that what you were scribbling down?


When I told Jerry about it, he suggested that I start writing down things I hear and putting together a book. Three hundred sixty five days at the bar, or something like that.


Unfolding another stray thought that I wrote on a slip of paper, I read the words, The light fades for everyone eventually. 

I had not overheard that, but thought it on my own while pouring vodka and soda, rum and coke, and popped beer tops for hours. 

Lily has bone cancer. I found out in early October and those words from my vet are the first and last things I think about every day.

How are the dogs, Danny K asked. 

Well, we lost Hershey two summers ago, Bandit has arthritis, the pug had the good grace to quietly slip away in his sleep, and poor Lily has bone cancer.

I'm sorry to hear that, he said.

It's ok, I am not going to tell her, I said.

We hike each day and she chases her toy. I rub her sore leg where the cancer first showed up as a limp. I'm just going to do the things I know she likes. She'll never contemplate death. She will know discomfort one day, but not yet.

I am going to run through the forest with her and toss her rope toy until the light fades.

Friday, June 23, 2017

On a Friday when I didn’t wake up well:

Ripe with a pending storm, clouds stir. Wind wrenches dark streaks against a heavy sky…which does not explain why I am remembering a bitter winter morning, just two fingers poking from my gloves to shift or steer and staring through frost on the VW's windshield. The glass was ablaze with sunrise on a narrow bay road in Long Island, 1994-ish.

I was leaving at dawn, slipping from a warm bed in a corner of his messy rented room. Dirty clothes, burnt-down candles, old spaghetti-stained dishes, and piles and piles of cigarette butts. I could smell his shampoo in my hair: love love love. It went sour by summertime.

 A different girl and a different him in another place…

Lipstick smudged on the rim, she sets down her Pinot Grigio: I thought about him all day yesterday, she said. Five minutes passed and I waited another five without touching the phone, then another five and finally it was Midnight and too late to call.

 She’s a girl in a quiet corner somewhere with almost tears puddled in her eyes, dreaming about a guy. What does he feel like? Is he hungry? Is he gentle? Does he even care?


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Things I Think In A Blink

Do I seem placid to you?

I hike through windy, bending trees, stop for coffee and watch a cardinal flash red around the bird feeder.

But it's a mess inside.

Screw you bright sunshine and randy wind. My mind, my health. How long have I got?

He stood behind us at the bar with a martini watching UConn shootin' hoops. You know, life is about three things, really, he said. Your health, your relationships, and your money.

His statement is a boulder in my head.


Did you see the little carrot farm she planted in her hummus? We grabbed our seats after break, passing her desk and snack, getting back to Real Estate Practices, Chapter 12.

Reaching over, I drew a frowny face on his notebook. He drew a dick in my eye.

We saw you two writing little love notes, she said.

Oh, that wasn't love, I said. That was a sad face, and notes like: my boobs hurt.

Ha! Must be pms!

She was close.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Chasing a sun setting along Saturday's horizon, Lily runs through mid-winter's slushy woods. She isn't thinking about a twinkling hot orange smudged sky. She doesn't notice horizontal sunbeams soaking snowy ground. Evening shadows loom.

Today's warm beautiful light was going out as I snagged her toy and tossed it toward gnarled Mountain Laurels. Its pink blooms each spring are a surprise.
Everything is cast in a rusted hue of dusk's magic limbo. I breathe it in. I want to keep some of that faltering color deep inside. 

A small glow in my belly. 

Sparkling eyes. 

Of course the spell pops -- just another old birthday balloon. Life isn't shining.

Where is that thrill -- the oh m'god flop in my stomach?

I'm a little girl alone in a huge bedroom. The lights are out. Ugly, slow-breathing monsters are waiting. Sometimes bad news comes creeping out from under the bed to rip away a sense that the future is a safe place. It's not.

"There's no guarantees," he said.

"You do things right. Eat healthy. Exercise. But that might get you nothing…" I said.

"You were talking in your sleep."

"Oh, what did I say?"

"Flash cards."

"Flash cards? So stupid."

Lily and I head for home. "Lily, why did I say flash cards?"