1/28/18 From the perspective of sixty six years, I can see the effects of decisions I have made as I barreled through my life. They are laid out before me; some twisted and fried, some burnished and fine. Some forgotten until this moment. Some always kicking me in the teeth. They make up the lopsided, globbed, frayed, singed, abstract, but ever vibrant, used canvas of my life. No perfectly woven silk tapestry for me. I am no medieval lady. Nor am I a cool, uber confident, vegan, save the world type. I survive, to live another day. To greet another morning. To plant another iris, or rose bush, or vintage peony. To eat another English muffin with butter and honey. To wait with excitement to hear my daughter’s voice, and the voices of my Grands. To see messages from my nieces and nephews – mostly my nieces, the boys are busy. Mom knew boys were always busy. She had five brothers, and four sons. She always forgave whatever they did, boys being boys.
I love hearing from my four brothers. They are an hysterical bunch; sharp witted, grossly humorous. They can belch like few others, even now, when they are all over fifty.
My sisters are gone. One died much too early to my liking. The other checked out, but living life as she would have it, and doing all right, I hear. It’s all good.
So, where was I? Right…the pile of decisions I have made that have brought me here… to be continued…
so, I ventured to the Paris Street Market yesterday, just to see what I could see. One booth had beautiful, hand made quilts…old, with soft fabrics and neat stitches…at incredibly reasonable prices. Sometimes you find old quilts priced as though the vendor hand stitched them herself, paying herself by the number of stitches. Ugh. But, these were lovely, and nicely priced. I could not resist a wedding ring with a neat, blue star in the center of each ring – perfect stitches making the white muslin backing beautiful, too. We talked a bit, Judy, the vendor, and her husband, and I. I’ll check in again next month to see if the perfect Dresden plate is still available.
Then, hugging my new quilt, I passed a few booths of neat stuff, until I came upon a small collection of odd bits laid out on a neat old wood ironing board, and a couple small tables – no flags, no flash, no fancy. The vendor, Paulette, was sleeping under her umbrella. I wanted her four foot, wooden, long handled tool box, $35. I had to wake her. We chatted about the day, and her tool box; how we remembered way back when everyone wanted a wooden trunk to line with pretty wall paper to use as our coffee tables. You cannot give them away, now, says Paulette. I can see that. No, she didn’t take credit cards, so I walked to the theatre ATM, and returned for the box. She sold it to me for less – I knew she would…we’d chatted, y’know. And she ALMOST talked me into an Indian brass, cylinder, portable coffee grinder…why I could grind my own coffee on the train and make that incredibly strong coffee they make in India while on my way to work. I resisted. My way to work is but down the hall…but it was cool, and might make a good Christmas gift.
Feels good to get out amongst people; chat a bit, chuckle and laugh a bit… not too much, mind you…I don’t care all that much, nor do they… for a while, earlier this year, after B died, I guess I was hit with one of those Peggy Lee “is that all there is” moments… and I know such moments will hit again, now and then…but I tire of grief, don’t you? tire of staring at the wall, only partly listening to others? Yeah…at some point, you just gotta get up again… hit a flea market…for no good reason…
Eleven Eleven Ninety Nine,
the day this comfortable house became mine.
It matches, first glance, all others round the block
Same roof, same shutters, same initial plant stock.
I should be ashamed, as a child of sixties fame.
They ARE all made of ticky tacky, and they all DO look the same.
Tho’ they’ve changed o’er these years as we’ve lived, loved, and lost.
I’ve added, for instance, more flowers than most.
More daisies, more lilies, more iris, more roses.
Bright poppies seeded for great June poses.
Even my tree, my poor suffering ash
grows against all odds ’round its cruel looking gash
where we cut out the blight caused by dastardly bugs.
The pesticide worked, ‘long with frequent tree hugs.
Yes, the yard, front and back, is chaotic, small splendor,
Like the kind you would get putting all in a blender.
Not the neat, fine order of my neighbors’ straight bricks,
rather, here a plot, there a pot, grape ivy ’round sticks.
A prickly, old rose from the ancient prairie (I did not plant it)
crowds the bargain lilac near the Hansa quite hairy (I do like it).
I planted six strawberries, back in two thousand two,
which now reach the hundreds growing just where they want to.
Inside my small castle, things are not much finer
by the standards of any highly paid designer.
I know hardwood floors are the dream of most.
I chose commercial carpet; black and tan, the color of toast.
It’s dark like a floor, and comfy, and soft,
and though a bit tailored, would look great in a loft.
My walls? well they’re sad, with colors galore.
I paint was high as I can reach, then I am loath to do more.
It makes me tired, my arm hurt, that’s all I will say
It’ll all get done some fine day.
My furniture suits me…my long, green leather couch,
my Eastlake setee, where my Grands like to slouch.
The turntable ready to give the Allmans a spin.
The trolls, and the books, and the crucifix – thin.
From the cross hangs a dearskin medicine bag,
hand beaded for me, a gift from a dear hag.
(Forgive me, dear Margaret Forster, wherever you are,
it’s just that hag rhymed. YOU are truly a star).
I shall continue this analysis at a later date.
There’s work to be done that simply cannot wait.
Time to head to the front “office,” with its red IKEA chair
and the bed with the red quilt. Emil Catt is always there.
Great ball of fire
climbing to the East
with miles of enflamed
striated clouds embracing it.
Six years they lived next door
with Jack, their magnificent, soft spoken husky,
and Crosby, their loppy eared, amalgamated barker.
Six years they hung shining Christmas balls on the lowest branches of their front ash.
Just last year they saved their three, blooming cherries out back from heavy, wet snows,
about which I was delighted, since those blossoms fill my windows each Spring.
They fixed the back fence each time Jack chewed through it to visit.
We worked to keep each other’s sidewalks clear of the annual ice dams.
And each and every night, they turned on their bright, annoying porch light.
Every, single night that blessed light lit up my living room and kitchen like day.
For six years.
I covered my windows with dark curtains and thick blinds at first.
For at least three years, I cursed them softly under my breath,
plotted to unscrew the bulb.
I huffed around complaining to myself, growling at my cat.
I learned to shut my bedroom door, eventually, which blocked the light quite well,
and then I found it actually helpful
when I found myself wandering ’round the house at midnight.
No need to turn on my own lights. The rooms were well lit.
So it became less annoying, more a beacon of friendship and safety in the neighborhood.
I came to like it, to depend on it.
It became the norm,
Until three nights ago
when I could not sleep,
and stumbled to the kitchen
in pitch blackness.
and a wee bit frightened.
The light was out.
My rooms were very dark.
All was weirdly quiet.
Was something awry in the neighborhood?
Then, on Tuesday, the sign went up!
They sold their house!
They moved away!
Without a word!
Without a wave, a smile, or snarled farewell.
Jack and Crosby, my furry buddies,
have a new yard to romp and bark in.
Their mom and dad have new rooms to fill,
and no doubt a new light lit on their front porch,
to shine in some new neighbor’s windows;
And I am left to curse the darkness I learned to live without
these last six years.
how ridiculous to think the lovely, miserable music scratching out of this fifty year old Janis Ian lp would somehow lift my sinking, self pitying, weeping- into- my -morning-coffee spirits above perceived injustices and aged indignation, humiliation, worthlessness…
or that reading MIDNIGHT WATCH by David Dyer, sitting in the anguished heads of those on the Californian thinking they should have, could have done something, anything, to save the Titanic because they saw her rockets, failed to find any bodies, would inspire me to renew some thirty year old belief that my life would be the one to inspire all of mankind to perfection… not the corrupt, other worldy lives of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump…
or that reviewing all decisions made in my life all these many, many years and believing I made the best decisions to be made, given all the variables, would change the gut slashing pain from your sigh of forced tolerance, your slight roll of your eyes, your barely hidden disgust when we talk…
you, the one person who hangs my moon…
oh, how my mother disgusted me at one point in my life, with all her cold, deliberate moves away from all of us while never letting go…her looks, her style, her men, her incredible survival tactics… how I cried each time she visited, then left again…Dad died, she left again, and again, trying to keep it together… life is so rude
oh, and my self-assurance that I was so smart, so worldly, so advanced beyond her…that I understood what she did not…I, who am now the disgusting, old,the pain- in- the -neck mother who fucked up royally, but who wants some of your time, who wants an occasional, spontaneous, surprise visit, an invitation to dinner on your patio with you and the kids, who imagines we have such laughs and remember such good times… and that you and my grands love being with me…(and who knows by writing this that I come off like some cliched Jewish mother, damn it…)
they weren’t all bad, were they, the days of our lives? or has your perfect, long suffering mother-in-law convinced you that it would have been better if I had learned to sacrifice, to live with your father no matter how many slaps or put downs? are her answers better because she stayed with her asshole (I can hear you sigh at that)? I hated leaving you with him, but how can you know (and I, now, imagine) how cowed I was by him? I believed I had to leave to save us both… I believed that with all the idiocy of a twenty eight year old battered wife.
is one good memory that makes you smile and glad I was/am your Mom?
Maybe not…not today, anyway, as I wait for you to call to say “let’s go to the fair!” ( you told me Wednesday we would go today, but it’s eleven already).
I s’pose they may come later, the good memories, when I have no more memory, as when my mom had no more memory, and it was up to me to remember the good stuff…
and I did…
and while I was writing this oozing mess, you were texting me to meet you all at 2 PM to see the last big events and awards…and I can’t wait to get there and see you! and life is good and happy again…and I put on American Woman by the Who loud to celebrate, all the while thinking what a stupid thing to do…HAA
My word, her whisper startled me!
as did the closeness of her eyes magnified by my readers!
“I simply have to share this with you, ” words breathed in utter confidence.
I nod, trying to place her.
“I love to crochet…and I love all the crochet magazines, not just this one I’m holding.”
I cannot back up since we are so close to the counter…
“Well, it is the same every month, every month, in every magazine, see?
She holds it open to me, tapered fingers sliding down the spine,
“See?” dark eyes boring holes in mine.
I see it!
Someone has torn out an entire section of an article!
Someone has had the nerve to rip apart a library magazine, stealing the patterns, no doubt about it. Slight panic…I dart a look back into her eyes, trying to remember if I had done it. Then I remembered I don’t crochet, so…
“I’m going to tell this librarian over here right now. I’m going to tell her.”
slowly inched away, gathered my books, then hurried out the door, barely waiting for the automatic door to open… I do not know which librarian she nabbed.
“Ma’am,” she whispered, “I love to crochet…”
Thirty-eight years I have done mortgage work
liking it less each year that I do it,
but it pays my bills, and feeds my face,
so I freely choose to stick to it
Unlike others I know who plan things well
I have no means to retire
though I have reached that age
when my employer may very well require
I stop showing up, grumping around
thinking I know so much,
when in truth, if I face it,
I am pretty much out of touch
We’ll see, we .shall. see
how much longer I tolerate their ire.
It is tough to not tell them to just drop dead,
I have never been a good liar.