Baby Blue Buick

It was dark, cold and a little rainy —  they were all sitting in the car at the end of their main street where it met the highway, waiting for a bus to come. They were quite early, trying to make sure that the father wouldn’t miss it. The three little girls in the back seat were trying to content themselves. One of the girls was huffing on the window so that she could create a fog and watch the oncoming headlights create a dispersed orange glow. One of the other girls joined her in the activity. When the condensation started dripping, they’d wipe it off and huff again — sometime writing words first.

The mother and father were fairly silent. Not much was being said. Cold shoulders might have shrugged a little. He was headed off to a military post where he was currently stationed — quite far from them but close enough to ride the bus even though it might be a long, miserable ride — he probably had plans to drink along the way to keep himself content.

He came home sometimes on weekends and this had been one of those times.  He didn’t always show up — sometimes he stayed on the base where he was stationed, claiming he’d missed the bus but they all knew he’d stayed so that he could get drunk with his friends instead of showing up for them. And even though they longed to see him, by the time he’d been home very long, they were all wishing he’d leave again as soon as possible. He was often gone, sometimes overseas so they’d gotten fairly used to living without him and it seemed even harder to have him home, yet they were very mixed about their feelings. They thought they loved him, but it was more the way a victim stays attached to the one who’s victimizing — they kept hoping that he’d change — but they knew all the while they were hoping, things were really hard on Mummy. It just seemed easier all the way around if he’d stay gone.

They weren’t an affectionate family so there were mostly more shrugs or subtle body messages as they sent him off on the bus.

“Come home on the weekends if you are able”, the mother said and the girls responded favorably all the while wondering if they really meant it or if he could tell by the way they turned around so quickly that they might prefer he didn’t. Things were so peaceful when he was away but they missed him just the same. He was a part of them. He was Daddy.

They had all driven together one long weekend, up to where he was stationed, scouting around, thinking they’d get a house nearby so they could all stay with him and together. They stayed in billeting on the base while they were there looking and had a really nice room until an officer came and needed it and then they were booted out into a smaller one. They all hung out on the swings while a new room was made ready for them. It was a little embarrassing to be at the bottom of the totem pole.

They tried to make the best of things. Daddy played a line game with whoever would play with him while they were in their small room waiting for the next day to go out and look again. Several rows of dots in lines would be put on a piece of paper and then whoever was playing, any number of players, would take turns connecting them trying to complete a square so that the square could be claimed with an initial and whoever got the most squares at the end, won.

There was the smell of Palmolive soap in the air and that would be a memory that lingered for a lifetime — Palmolive soap recalling one of the few times Daddy took the time to play.

Palmolive soap changed their fragrance somewhere along the way so it was harder and harder to remember — but that line game stayed the same. If they ever played it, one of them would say, “Remember that time we stayed in billeting looking for a house and Daddy played this with us?”

There was one house with stairs and gold veined mirrors on the wall the stairs went up and there was some talk by the parents with the realtor about buying it. They all got so excited about the idea and could imagine that it would be a new start and a big step up into another way of living. The mother got cold feet, knowing full well, by then, that the father wasn’t very likely to change and then she’d have even more to try to manage. That idea fell through. It might just have been that their credit wasn’t worthy — the mother was still relieved at the same time disappointed that things couldn’t be the way they all were dreaming that their lives could be.

It’s hard having hope for an alcoholic. He did manage to get through the service, twenty years, and retire with an income. He lost one stripe along the way but because he was so handsome and charming, he almost always found his way back out of trouble — just long enough to get the twenty years in.

They’d take one more trip in that same 1950s baby blue Buick with its continental kit, the one they’d waited for the bus and looked for the house they didn’t get in. When Daddy retired, they took a trip to Canada to visit the mother’s family there — Daddy driving all the way to and back and staying sober the whole trip until he thought they were fairly safe in the mother’s hometown where they would be for an extended time visiting one relative or another.

Driving all across America, on turnpikes and highways, they slept in the car most nights but once or twice they took a room in a little motor hotel along the way. Even though he didn’t drink while he was driving, he was somber when he was sober and not a lot of fun and always in a hurry to get to the next time he could drink again. He drank in Nova Scotia but not so much that he made any kind of fools of them — just enough to calm his alcoholic nerves some. And all of their mother’s relatives thought that he was handsome and charming too — even though he got a little drunk — his good looks and charm appeased them.

They stayed in a big house that Grannie owned and rented rooms to student surveyors. It had two sets of stairs, one in the front and one that went up the back from the kitchen. Those stairs were very steep for little 8, 9, and 10 year old legs to manage, but they were the fun ones and the three girls took them the most to get up to the big room that they all stayed in.

There was another good memory of Daddy playing. He put them all in a sleigh and pulled them in it himself with an uncle helping. They laughed and laughed and Daddy looked so wonderful having fun that way. Mummy was doing her regular thing, making a movie of every move anyone made. For some reason, she wanted to remember these things — the good times and fun things they did — Mummy loved Daddy a lot, but he just wouldn’t or couldn’t quit drinking.

Their shoes all got wet from the snow and had to sit on the oven door to dry out. Daddy carried the littlest girls on his back to get them back in without getting their feet any wetter. The oldest was too independent. It was the first time any of them had seen snow so they had to play some in it but they didn’t have snow shoes. They were from California.

They met all their cousins and aunts and uncles and then it was time to go home.

The Grand Canyon had to be missed on the way that he was racing back home so he could finally drink the way he wanted. “We don’t have time”, he said. They did see a giant meteor crater — it must have been in the straight line along the route that they were taking. And each got a piece of asbestos before it was well known how bad it was to have it — some rose quarts and Apache tears as well — some memorabilia to recall the trip later in their lives.

They had been taken out of school for a whole month and were supposed to be taking notes along the way to inform their classes about the trip once they got back — a way to please the State most likely. They brought the rocks instead.

It wasn’t very long after that trip, a year or so about, that they shipped Daddy off to live with his mother and father hoping he would find a way to recover from the alcohol — they couldn’t think of another single thing that they could say or do to help him. He never came back the way they planned, but they decided it was better that he hadn’t if he’d never change — and he never did. The next family he devastated told them all about it, a long time later.

Poor Daddy. But he didn’t really try. He was from a drinking family with several brothers that struggled too. Most of them not as bad as he did. One of them managed to quit and the story was that one of his daughters had said some words that did the trick and he quit, just like that. One of Daddy’s daughters tried to find the words that would be a trick too — always looking for just the right ones to say that would shake him at his core. She never did and Daddy never looked back much after he left so there weren’t any chances to hope to change him, even if she had managed to find them. He would call once in awhile — only when he was drinking or drunk  — to tell them that he loved them. None of them were very convinced and started trying to be busy if or when he bothered.

They called themselves Little Women, the three daughters and the mother after Daddy left. Everything they did, they did the best they could to try to be a family. There were a lot of struggles but none as hard as dealing with a man pouring beer over kittens in a box, staggering all over falling all the time and the police coming, always sleeping off a hangover, yelling at their mother or pounding on her with his fists or wrecking the blue Buick — pawning all their things that he had bought on credit to get more money for drinking.

The mother got a good enough job and got a Rambler car that was considered a compact then and they would all take turns learning how to drive in it. “A lot easier than driving that big tank” the mother said, “but Daddy always wanted Buicks”. She’d had to learn to drive in it and she did with the help of a friend, because Daddy was away again when the writing on the wall got crystal clear and she knew she’d have to step up and take charge from then on.

“Daddy Dear, oh Daddy Dear. We wanted you to be a hero. You were only human and did the best that you were able. We tried to love you harder than you tried to be our Superman.
Daddy Dear, oh Daddy Dear, we know of all the values that were hiding in plain sight of you. We missed you when you went away but you knew too, it wouldn’t work the way it wasn’t working.”

Daddy called Mummy all the days of their lives. And Mummy always felt sad, but she did have all her movies and her three girls all grown up and happy for the most part. Mummy had made sure of that.

 

dots and lines game

Something Quite Unusual

Her skin was purple, the lightest shade more like a white that had been tinted, that would appear as a purple haze when lighting was just right. Her hair shone like a yellow daisy with marshmallow-colored streaks highlighting the top most layers. Her skin had a blush to it that could only be referred to as a mellow shade of lime because that was what the Sun brought out in tanning for the time spent daily planting vegetables, herbs and trees within the space that was a garden. A bright orange, bibbed and bowed apron with harvesting pockets covered a white gauze dress that was for purpose to let air and light flow freely through and it waved and fluttered as she danced about in merriment, jumping for joy as she went about her daily chores. And one could slightly see the silhouette of her tall and slender body showing through it if they looked hard at her when a light came through it from behind her. She liked to sew and garden and would very often be prancing to and fro, from one task to the other like a ballerina — bugs and bees and butterflies making sure to keep her company — and a little dog named Puggles curled up in a ball on a blanket near the door sleeping because he was old and feeble and couldn’t dance like she could any more. He just waited for her, patiently, because he knew that later they would snuggle and she would kiss him.

Mostly she just whistled or spoke in a secret language to the critters all about her. It was generally very quiet except for the preferred music of the air and tree leaves being moved by it or the rain tapping when it fell — which seemed to be quite often. Bugs spoke too softly for any other ears to hear, but she could and together they made a kind of chorus — the bugs with their sound, the birds theirs, humming bees and her harmonizing whistle accompanied her dancing. She was something quite unusual and if anyone ever saw her, they never did again because she moved about the span of space and time so freely that it was a miracle to catch her in the first place — she was hiding in a secret place that she refused to release the address of mostly because it wouldn’t be where it had been, the next time.

She didn’t like to cook much but loved to have some pretty dishes with blue daisies painted on them and a teapot that looked like a rabbit. She always thought she’d have a soiree but as she knew, she was seldom in the same place long enough and people for the most part didn’t know quite how to find her or how to keep with where she went if they ever managed to. So, instead of wasting time cooking and washing dishes, she ate raw fruit and vegetables over the sink to catch the drippings and just spent the nights snuggling Puggles and looking at her pretty dishes while reading a book with pretty pictures formed by written words.

There was another purple person she kept running into in the margins but they never seemed to be in the same space long enough to know if they could really get along. She thought she caught him dancing and for a split second she heard a whistle, but poof, he left her dimension almost as quickly as he entered. She always kept one or the other of her magenta eyes out for him just the same and was always delighted when she thought she saw his colors fading in and out or moving in the clouds above — thinking he might be on the look out, hoping to find a way to see her too and maybe they could each stay a little longer.

Puggles was ready to snuggle and she was through with her chores and the purple man had failed to show up on that day. She ate her dinner, over the sink of course, and grabbed Puggles after he ate too and they both plopped on the bed and pulled up the multi-colored patchwork quilt to warm them. Puggles wanted to be on the top because he got too hot if he got under it — so she got him made comfy and grabbed her book and turned the light just on the book so she could read it.

Tomorrow they would do the same thing for the most part over again because they liked to. There was plenty of spice and lots of things nice and all of the colors of the rainbow. They would dance and sing and garden and Puggles, of course, would sleep curled up in a ball on a blanket near the door so he could keep his sleeping eyes upon her while she floated about the garden in her white dress. There were many chores to do and all of the time in the world to do them and there was nothing to be sad about. They had everything they needed.

She kissed Puggles goodnight, patted him on his head and said she loved him and offered that they wake up happy in the morning. Puggles licked her face and closed his eyes, scrunching just a little to make himself more comfortable. She read a little and turned the light out, scrunching just a little too.

 

Something Quite Unusual

We Should Wait

Clint Eastwood put his arms around her waist and lifted her off the ground to twirl her around and kiss her — passionately — for a wrapped-together-in-ecstasy continuous time. They fell in love immediately and followed each other around — lusting after knowing more about each other and they stayed in the same place with other people trying to steal them apart but they wouldn’t be stolen.

They laid themselves down and he suggested in a firm account of knowing but wasn’t at all disappointed when she said, “I think we should wait,” — even though she really wanted to. They both knew that they hardly knew — he just thought that he was supposed to. He was different than he is in movies — he displayed a little lack of surety about himself and what they might be together. He acted coyly even though he wouldn’t let her out of sight. His kisses got better with time.

“Is this heaven?” asked Rango
“If it were, we’d be eating Pop Tarts with Kim Novak,” replied the Spirit of the West.

And then the phone rang and she had to wake up. She tried to go back to the wonderful dream, but she could only try to hang on to it while woken.

“You came a long way to find something that isn’t out here.” The Spirit of The West was seeing something Rango couldn’t see for himself. Dreams are useful that way too — even though it is the self that is seeing.

“It’s not about you,” he continued, “it’s about them.”

She wonders what Clint Eastwood had in mind — maybe that she needs to lower expectation or take full advantage of moments, even the minutes in dreams that probably really only last for seconds — let go of unnecessary self-imprisonment. What’s to gain from waiting — especially in a dream. Sometimes there is something.

Something needed is hidden in the play — the story one is making — and sometimes waiting has a value. Maybe while waiting, Clint Eastwood will come along and tell you.

“Don’t know that you got a choice son. No man can walk out on his own story.”

Cup Of Starbucks

“The good thing about being poor,” she said, “is that you can’t buy things that you don’t need.”

     There is a dream about it where paths go wandering and are cleared of rubble off to the sides and rocks line it and green grows all along it — yellow, pink, white and purple flowers scatter high and low — and critters run to and fro.
     Birds light the trees and mornings offer music for drinking coffee at the table.

     Nothing is wasted and nothing is useless.
Everything fits together.
     All in harmony and beauty.

“When I have more money than I need, I spend it wildly — like splurging on a cup of Starbucks coffee — though I would never. I like the organic Mexican variety I get at Walmart and for six bucks I get six or seven pots…or more. What a waste Starbucks is and yet there is a queue a mile long whenever I pass it. Let’s go to lunch,” she says, “I’ll treat.”

She had a little extra money and wasn’t spending it wildly but wanted to treat her similarly-poor friend to a bean burrito, which she wanted.

“I do think I will get a new, used washing machine though, because the muscles and bones in my shoulders just won’t let me keep up with all this hand-washing.”

“That sounds like a good idea,” her friend said. “And yes, I’m up for a bean burrito, thank you.”

“I’m not going to pay for your drink though. That’s a pure waste of money and it’s poison and I just won’t buy your poison or waste that kind of money.”

As soon as she said it she regretted because it isn’t very giving to make conditions like that but she wanted her friend to keep on living. She was about the only friend she had now.

     The clear paths and beautiful flowers were waiting on someone to get better. Someone who was gloomy and sadly thinking and the stray cats were eating all the birdies. There         had been a cat that morning pouncing on the stick pile digging for a lizard.

“Hold on while I go scat a cat,” she asked her friend on the phone another day that they were talking.
“I thought you said, ‘Hold on while I go stab a cat’,” her friend exclaimed when she got back.

They had a hoot together and ended up talking the rest of the afternoon trying to see who was the most disturbed over living or to cheer each other up a little.

“Yeah, all the rich people I’ve ever known I haven’t liked,” her friend said.

They talked about the rich people that they’d known and how most of them had gotten it by ill-getting — someone else had to suffer for them to have it or they had cheated things somehow. If they had gotten it in safer ways, they were nonetheless rabidly consuming or living lifestyles that scarcely took much into consideration other than what they wanted or needed.

“Archie used to bill one of his clients twice because they were such a big company and were set up such that they never noticed and I knew of him burning down a building for the insurance. Actually he probably paid someone else to do it for him, but they were all laughing about it just the same.”

They couldn’t think of anyone they knew that they thought of as rich that had gotten it in a way that they admired — or who were spending it in any way that they could envy. They all kid themselves but somehow money corrupts and destroys — and they all end up having way more stuff than anyone could need — they agreed, and that it all looked like too much greed and then they decided that they could never be happy having more money than what they would ever really need.

“You know, people in India sitting on dirt floors with flies hovering around them all the time would think I’m a millionaire and that that bag of organic Mexican coffee was a total waste of money or a splurge. I need to stop thinking that I’m anything less than wealthy. I have no reason at all to be unhappy.”

Things are so relative and so much sadness is uncalled for. It helps a lot to have friends to talk to.

     Evenings were cooling and it wouldn’t be long before the days would be too. The paths would turn brown with rubble and dead weeds still in them but it might just be, that long before spring, the sad mood would leap out of the soul it was menacing and leave that soul to be the thing that could change things. There’s magic in dirt even when there’s no bother — things pop up routinely without trouble — though it might do better with a happy helper
     the path wasn’t likely to clear itself. 

Everyone’s just trying to leave something of value behind.

On Sutter Street

Golden Gate park was just down the hill — she could walk to it easily. The Golden Gate Bridge could be seen directly from the windows of all of their rooms as they were on the wing that looked directly out to it. There was a group of thirteen of them living there that summer — all having won scholarships to the Academy of Art on Sutter Street downtown — a bus ride away each morning. Lone Mountain College, where they all were staying, was way up on a hill and to get to the bus stop behind it required walking brakes to keep from flying down it — it was very steep. It was not something to look forward to, getting back up it.

A group of nuns were residing at the end of their wing — one of which was on some kind of sabbatical whereby she would decide whether she wanted to stay or leave her order and they thought they saw her with a man or men, coming and going from her room. It could have been her brother, but there were rumors he was not. The nuns were quiet but they were witness to several of their not so quiet shenanigans — youthful drunkenness one night — fool-making — up and down the hall and in and out of the Lavatory, it was called, where they all shared toilet and showering facilities.

The scholarship didn’t cover room and board but whatever they paid the college to stay there included changes of sheets and towels — if you could schedule things just right — and meals — also requiring getting there on time.

Coming up the back, the same way they went down to catch the bus, required getting someone’s attention to let you in the door at certain times. Leaving was no trouble. There were a few other odd, assorted people renting rooms there that summer and one of them was Tuffy — a dark-skinned fellow everyone loved who they all were quite sure was gay. Often, for some reason, Tuffy was there to let someone in — all that was required was to shout up to his window…”Tuuuuffyyy, Tuuuuffy!” Down he’d come to let you in.

One afternoon, probably a Saturday, because she was the only one taking a Saturday class, she couldn’t get Tuffy’s or anyone’s attention and had to scale the side of the hill of dirt and rocks and missed the lunch buffet by minutes — missing lunch was a big disappointment.

It was a wonderful summer — one that she would remember forever. She turned eighteen not long after arriving and it was her first time away from home, requiring a plane ride — something else that was a first. It was a short flight, just 45 minutes or so, so they didn’t get very high and she found it fascinating to see the ground look so much like a patchwork quilt. It was $36 for a round trip ticket and her mother bought two trips, one for her friend who would go with her to help her get oriented because she had been there the year before.

Because her friend came with her, they shared the room at first and then when the friend finally left, staying longer than she should have, she had the room to herself. It was six weeks of spellbinding magic in total.

The dorm arrangement was akin to a social order but the Academy was pure art and there was the smell of oils and linseed and freedom permeating the air through and through the five stories of an old downtown building. It was Heaven. The elevator had a velvet sofa in it — but most everybody took the stairs because they were a lot quicker.

Her favorite class ended up being the one on Saturday. While all her fellow scholarship friends were off getting new shag haircuts or having some mundane normal experience or shopping — she was sitting on the floor with her teacher learning how to stretch a canvas. The teacher was on crutches and had trouble with his legs but made no bones about getting on the floor for the best way of doing it. She took notes so she would remember.

She made a few friends and probably a couple of enemies and met some boys and lost one to the girl next door who would when she wouldn’t — but it was all part of growing up and learning how to love life and find her passion. She would never be the same. One of her friends back home was sure she would come home snooty for having had such a wonderful experience — but mostly she just came back with more muscles in her legs from walking.

One of the things that stood out to her while she was there, navigating steep hills on foot or on and off buses was that all the ladies of San Francisco wore nice shoes when they should have been wearing brogans with suction cups. There was a lot of styling going on and she found this very unique shoe shop that made shoes by hand — The Knack. She was determined to have a pair. They were probably $80 which was a fortune to her, but somehow she managed to eek it out of her measly purse holdings and wore those shoes to death for years and years thereafter.

She wore and wore that summer too. Little did she know what her high school teacher did when he made sure she had all the brushes and Conté Crayons and anything else he could steal from school supplies to send with her — that it would change her life. The fact that he had the confidence in her to start with to make her get the portfolio together to send off for competition and all his careful nurturing for the two years that it took for her to work up enough material. He knew — it was the perfect thing for her to do at that point in her life. “You need to loosen up,” he’d always tell her. She’d find out exactly what he meant and how to do it at the Academy where they all had to try to control long bamboo sticks with chalk attached while standing, or draw without looking at the paper or lifting the pencil, or sketch nude models in seconds. He knew. She had control issues that were part of insecurities that would get some fixing going off to an adventure in artful living.

Mr. Danielson. Everybody loved Mr. Danielson. Everybody was in love with Mr. Danielson — he was an angel sent from heaven — but he was in love with his wife — which made him even more beautiful. He was a beautiful man, inside and out — tall with a full beard and mustache and curly hair, trim and beautifully proportioned and spoke softly and leaned over carefully to show you how to do things. He always had an apron on that was slathered with paint all over — he wiped his brushes on it. She will never stop being grateful for the chance of him in her life. Everyone that knew him said the same.

San Francisco. It’s impossible not to leave your heart there.

She went back somewhere near ten years later and drove around just looking at the spots where she had been. She went again many more years after that when she was nearby taking classes for a company she was working for. She could remember it all.

Her mother used to speak of her own days of living in Goose Bay, Labrador and would say things like “those were the best days of my life.” She knew by then what her mother had meant. There’s just something about freedom from things that inhibit that sticks with you and informs the rest of life. Art, Mr. Danielson and San Francisco had come together like a perfect storm to set her out in life just right.

Art, in and of itself, hadn’t ended up being her life but it had informed it at every turn and just the experience of being brave and going on that trip had made all the difference. Some girls mother’s wouldn’t even let them apply. She had had a mother that liked freedom. She had been lucky there too.

Life wasn’t over yet and she still had longings of stretching canvas and of oil paint and linseed. Maybe she’d find a way to be brave again and do it.

One True Sentence

Odd that a new device could cause a rift in thinking. It’s just a thing and how can a thing change the manner in which words accrue upon the same virtual page as where they did before except only now arriving there through a newer instrument of delivery?

Somehow they were though, not wanting to travel the same distance without making their way from the air, to her head more difficult than they did previous to this same but different mode of liberation.

It was all in her suddenly defunctioning head.

She was even finding herself leaving the perfectly working new device–
that was on top a box on top of her lap while they were all with her outstretched on top of her comfortable bed and where there could also be playing in the background, on the same device, an audio thing that was instructional or entertaining and available to be brought back forward for seeing at the click of a key–
to walk into the kitchen where the old, nearly defunct device was being buried already under a heap of accumulating papers on a table–
like she needed to see it, to touch it, to turn it on to find herself again–
once writing on the new device had managed to rift her thinking.

Crazy how a rhythm can change the whole scenario–
algorithms so to speak–sets of rules to be followed–
sounds somewhat neurotic.

There it was lying almost dead not much able any more to be the difficult friend it had before. What seemed clear was that things inspire. The old device had had a certain way of influencing all of her thinking…
“Must get this on paper before the thing shuts down.”
“Can’t look that up or it will make the thing shut down or hang up.”
“Can’t move the thing from where it is because it needs to be attached to that plug and that Ethernet cord because WiFi is unreliable, possibly unavailable when and/or if the thing can even be turned on this time.”
“I shall write with a pen and paper while the thing takes whatever time out that it has decided it happens to want to and shall look things up in books with paper words instead in the meantime.”

This new device was fully cooperative, leaving her no drama with which to engage. Was it boredom or just a new dance to learn–either way something was changed–good or bad yet to be determined but highly suspicious of being or becoming a good thing.

“Poor old difficult thing.”

Another neurotic behavior–anthropomorphizing.

The cats were out in the studio so she could even take this new wonderful friend, this new device to sit with her to think in the little mudroom. She would do that then because the battery was low and there is a functioning three-pronged outlet available in her nearly defunct whole house out there.

How cool it would be if a brand new house could be built around this brand new fancy cheap thing and maybe a whole new life where even fear of intimacy could even, also, finally be made defunct.

Ah, the thrills and chills of a new thing.

All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.’ So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that I knew or had seen or had heard someone say.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

new device

Her Favorite Critics

She checked out Wuthering Heights from the library because she just couldn’t make herself labor through trying to read Jane Austen any longer. For all the hoopla so many make about her, she really wishes she could make herself — read some of it — but it just isn’t in her good sense and sensibilities to bother with. She typed in to her browser, “why do people like Jane Austen so much” and the only thing that made any sense was a comment following a raving post about her that said “if she was writing in these times, she would be writing for General Hospital.” It wasn’t that she even got that much out of whatever she was able to read because all she got out of it was a similarly draining convoluted narrative like reading the book of Genesis in the Bible — just too many begets — begets for Jane being all the convoluted lines of relations of who knows who knows who or which of them might be married or intended or hopefully intended and far too many words in that doing — no economy whatsoever it seemed — seeming to take forever to get to any weight. Now, the Bronte sisters, they look a little more promising — at least the introduction by Charlotte in the second edition of the publication of Emily’s book where she is disclosing how the publishing of it came about in the first place — even that was more compelling than Jane Austen. 

So, what she figured by the popularity of Jane and the comment revealing what she might have discovered if she’d been able to endure, people want common. They want General Hospital or a romance novel like what they might find at a checkout counter before boarding a plane — most people — and any that don’t are rarer to find and certainly probably not sufficient to make a living on and why so many might write things that are common.

“I watched a movie about Jackson Pollack and you know what? When he finally got to a point in his tortured life of painting where others thought, ‘now there’s an artist’, he didn’t want to paint anymore because everybody from that point on wanted him to spit them out like he was a machine or something. The doing lost all of its value and any meaning for him as an artist.”

She had just read something she’d written to one of her favorite critics — a friend, an old boyfriend, who wrote a story with her once upon a time. Actually he wrote it and she expanded upon it because he gave up to easily, letting the story of a little Christmas tree end by the poor little tree lying in a ditch somewhere. She had wanted the little Christmas tree to have a better ending than that so took what he had written and enlarged upon it — taking the little tree to a recycling facility and back up to his forest family and friends. He loved what she wrote — not quite at first because at first it hurt his feelings some — and that silly little story became their child, something that kept them together, at least on a string, for many years thereafter, even until now — “When are you ever going to finish The Little Christmas Tree and send it off to a publisher?” he’d ask on just about every occasion he used it as an excuse to call her.

Anyway, he loved the way she wrote even when he couldn’t understand the meaning, so she decided to read Floating Dress Dancing to him to see what his reaction was since not one single person bothered to read it and it had been like a Jackson Pollock moment to her — a moment when you finally get something out of yourself that you’ve wanted to get out and it comes out just the way you want it to and even though you love it, no one else gets it. He didn’t get it either but still said he loved the way it sounded. “There’s something in there and I want to know. And even though I don’t understand it, I love the way it sounds and the way the words make you think about other things.” That was enough — actually what she wanted. She told him the story behind it. He understood it more but what she really wanted was for him to understand why no one getting it or liking it should matter anyway.

“You know how you love to sing and would be a singer writing and singing music if you could make yourself do the difficult work of pushing through the artistic barriers but you don’t care if anyone hears it or not, you just have to do it because it is a thing inside you wanting out? Well, that was Jackson Pollock but he pushed through the barriers and arrived to where he saw a thing and knew that it was good. I want to push through those barriers,” she said and hoped she could whether anyone ever got her or not. She just wanted to know that she could do it — get to a place where the getting to is felt in all it’s magical measure. She was hoping though that the getting there wouldn’t have her wanting to end it all like Jackson Pollock did.

“Yeah, I understand,” he said. “Do you want me to sing the latest things I’ve written?” he asked.

She let him sing — over the phone.

“You’re my pillar,” he said. “You’ll always be my pillar. Do you know what I mean when I say that you are my pillar?” He went on to explain. They were still connected by some kind of string but The Little Christmas Tree still wasn’t published. Maybe it never would be.

Wuthering Heights

 

 

One O’clock PM

There was a set of bunk beds in the room and a single bed and all three young girls slept in the same room. The mother slept in the other room. All rooms were wall to wall, floor to ceiling furnishings since the house was so small, “a cracker box” the mother would call it and stacking furniture was just about the only way to store their ever-increasing stuff. The mother didn’t like to throw things away, especially not anything that could serve as memorabilia once the girls were grown and gone. She lived for her girls.

The house had jalousie windows and let a lot of heat or cold in, even when closed, so it was hard to manage temperatures. The slats were useful for the girls to get back in if they managed to lock themselves out though, being latchkey kids and all. They slept with giant puffs in the wintertime since there was only a wall heater in the living room that didn’t seem to have the capacity to get the heat through the little hallway and if it did it was quickly siphoned out the jalousie window pane gaps. Summer was managed with a swamp cooler that brought in more gnats than it pushed out any cool air. They mostly spent the summer at the NCO club swimming pool. Their dad had left them that at least.

The mother worked five days a week and was the sole provider and when the weekend came around, she was determined to sleep in no matter what. Her three daughters weren’t allowed to start any activities or have any friends over until she was awake which might be one o’clock pm or even later. They were kind of expected to sleep in too. They hated it — putting off their weekend until so late in the day was utterly depressing — all their friends out already having played for hours.

Nothing lasts forever though.

It was 1pm when she woke up this morning. She couldn’t believe it when she looked at the clock. The kitties had been pouncing across her for hours but it didn’t seem to register until she was completely ready for it to register. It made her the same kind of depressed that it did when her mother made them wait to get up when they were younger and she vowed to stop the staying up so late that she had gotten back into the bad habit of doing again lately. As if she could.

Maybe it was even because of all that perceived sense of wasted time from childhood that made her value so much every second of every day and made it hard for her to imagine putting anything off for sleeping. But her body made her sleep even with the kitties jumping on her trying to remind her they were hungry.

“You’re going to sleep your life away,” one of her old boyfriends used to say as he was getting up at 5am. Seemed like every boyfriend she’d ever had got up at 5am. Well, most were fairly successful and it has always been said that it is only possible to be very successful if one is an early riser. None were very successful at relationships though — there must be a different set of rules for that.

And then, of course, there are all the stories about famous people who hardly slept or sleep at all or only took or take naps during the day.

What does waking early have to offer — CEOship of a fortune five, private jets, trophy wives and extra girls, billions upon billions of dollars? Maybe an invention but it all mostly circulates around the concept of the money. And mostly men. They can afford to wake early — they have wives, girlfriends or for-hire housekeepers so they can start right away on doing what they want to — whatever will make them the most money or famous. When they wake early it is to exercise, read emails, simple things that make lining up CEOship easier. They seldom mop a floor or clean a tub out. When women wake early, more often it is to make the man’s coffee or his breakfast lunch and dinner and clean the house between all that by the time he gets back home so he can work at whatever he wants to in peace and perfect comfort.

Female success — racking up clean dishes, floors and tubs and cooking millions of meals and yummy ones.

Of course, here she is lucky enough not to have a man to have to make coffee for or cook or clean but still, where is her success? Ah, she sleeps too much or too late or doesn’t get up early.

“Why can’t success be found in late hours just as easily as early ones,” she wonders, and “who says I’m not successful?”

She thinks of her mother and how successful her mother finally felt, later in her life when she was able to do whatever she wanted to without worrying about cleaning a house, if she ever did — because she no longer had three girls to worry much about since they’d all grown up and were worrying about themselves.

She had made sure each of them had a car right by the time they needed one. She found ways to keep those cars repaired, even if it meant staying friends with the friends of the boyfriend she had to forfeit because the kids came before anything else and the boyfriend just didn’t like that very much — even though she cooked and cleaned for him. She looked in papers and found job ads she thought they might like and spurred them on to get those jobs. But finally, after all her hard work of making sure there were puffs to keep them warm when jalousie windows were leaking out all the warm air, she was able to move them all up to a bigger house that had forced-air heating that came through all the vents in each of the many more rooms and casement windows that closed up tight to keep the warm air in. She stayed in that same house and once the girls were gone, that was her luxury and success — and she still had all the memorabilia to prove what she had done.

All the men she’d known that got up at 5am have died now, all in bad health, and all their heirs are fighting over all the money that they made and couldn’t take along. None of them kept a wife but they all went through many women who she suspects swept their floors and cooked or at least did other little details that kept them somewhat happy — even if it was just to be a young thing hanging on their arm and gushing over them.

“He was a great dad. He had three businesses,” was the obituary for one who died “peacefully” alone in a nursing home, no mention of the children by his side.

We all die alone, no one can do it with us. As much as they all tried, their mother died without them around her too — she went when they left to take the mother’s sister home to rest.

One o’clock or five pm it really doesn’t matter much in the bigger scheme of things it seems, unless you want to be included in the search engine results of “what famous people don’t sleep very much”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shape Of Legs

Words get batted around all night trying to hit a home run story by morning. It’s not intentional anymore than it is essential — there is nothing available to thwart the pitcher, catcher or batter — and as one of the great analyzers of thought once said, “one is everyone in their dreams” — so there is a conspiracy going on and it actually goes on during the day as well as night — especially if the morning arrives before the hit.

legs

She could still see the original shape of her baby legs under the extra layer of age and cells — fat or other skinny kinds of cells that simply come with age and change the shapes of things.

Some things just can’t be hidden.

“One of the first things I looked at when you girls were born,” her mother had said early on in her life, “was whether or not you had ankles. I looked at your noses and your ankles.”

Fingers and toes, they must have been a given.

Baby legs are cute no matter how they look or whether or not they have ankles. Baby anything is cute but it is possible to tell how a thing might turn out in the long run, so her mother was checking that her babies didn’t have any of her own self-determined defects. It was all in their best interest.

What ever was the shape of legs to mean to the rest of her life, only her mother knew at her birth but would go on to explain in countless subliminal and obvious ways as would the rest of the world.

“Does she have big thighs?”

John: Did you hear, someone moved into the old Klickner place? A woman.
Grandpa: A woman?
John: Yeah.
Grandpa: Did you mount her?
John: Ohhh, Dad!
Grandpa: Well the woman, does she have big thighs?
John: No!
Grandpa: No?! Then what’s the problem? If I was a young fella like you, I’d be mounting every woman in Wabasha.

— 1993 Grumpy Old Men

When she heard those words in the movie they drudged up some that had long ago been logged in memory for future reference: Best to not have big thighs.

According to the movie, at least, if you ever wanted to be mounted — but by the sound of things it would be better to not have big thighs at all — if you did, you’d better go into some kind of hiding.

There’s no getting around it, there is no way to be perfect, and it should be made a crime to start a baby out thinking it could ever come to be some imaginary thing a mother thinks it should be.

She woke up thinking about her baby legs but also about Jackson Pollock because right before she went to bed, with her not so baby legs stretched out in front of her, she watched a movie about his life — so by morning she wanted to know some more about him.

When I am in my painting, I’m not aware of what I’m doing. It is only after a sort of ‘get acquainted’ period that I see what I have been about. I have no fear of making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through. It is only when I lose contact with the painting that the result is a mess. Otherwise there is pure harmony, an easy give and take, and the painting comes out well.  —Jackson Pollock, My Painting, 1956

Getting in the zone — she thinks of the drafts piling up in virtual space. Sometimes it just can’t be gotten to but later parts can be copied and pasted and a masterpiece can be created. It feels like a masterpiece when the zone has been gotten to — whatever anyone else might think.

So in the movie, someone said, “something’s missing, something’s not there.” When they finally started saying, “Wow, that’s it. That’s Art.” Jackson Pollack fell apart. They expected him to keep producing like he was a machine or something.

“What a shame it seems to be that artists need money,” she thinks.

There is no way of knowing, because she was only seeing it in a movie that was how someone else was seeing how Jackson Pollock had been and even though it was based on lots of archival documents, interviews and even another movie of the actual him being filmed while painting, it wasn’t 100% possible to know for sure, but it appeared that his mother had been quit important to how he saw himself. It was probably highly unlikely that it had anything to do with the shape of his legs — whether or not his thighs were big or if he had any ankles — but nonetheless, his mother’s glares and disapproval had been depicted as an influence to how he felt about himself — and not a positive one.

There are so many things that can interfere with keeping a thing from coming through.

Are there any artists that aren’t tormented? Poor Jackson and his poor wife — they had bigger things than his mother to overcome — but in the end what beauty they each made and what he personally likely only could have made because of the influence of his wife. She can keep that to her credit.

“To live is to struggle.” ~ Rene Dubos

Today when she woke up after batting things around in dreams and semi-conscious streams of waking thought she started the day off wondering, “Will this be the day that I don’t bother?” The movie about Jackson Pollack was interfering now. “How does anyone get that good!?” And he had far more than three strikes coming against him.

Jackson Pollock didn’t think Jackson Pollock could be that good until Jackson Pollock was — up to then he was only guessing but he never stopped believing.

“One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.” ― Sigmund Freud

Her own mother had a mother who had a mother who likely said things that made her children feel badly about themselves. Just can’t let things like that keep the truth of what one really is from coming through. Bat, hit, take whatever shape of legs you have to make that run for home. The only strikes against one are the ones one thinks they own.

She’d like to own a Jackson Pollock painting but decides she’d better settle for painting the shape of her legs which she has come by far to terms with.

 

 

Break A Heart

The little pincher bug immediately started running around on top of the dirt like its hair was on fire. She continued to look for a few seconds thinking it was looking up to see a giant looking back and was trying desperately to find a hollow somewhere in the pile of organic matter to hide but it was then immediately realized that the poor little bug was trying to get its feet away from the scorching heat of what it had been put upon. The heat that was, by then, starting to penetrate her own more well-padded naked pads.

She quickly tried to sweep the little bug to where the dirt was shaded but she feared that it might not have been quickly enough. By the time the bug had started writhing, turning itself over on its back and flailing itself around was when the horror struck her and it was fractions of a second from setting it down — probably better that she hadn’t just walked away.

Oh the horror though at the thought that it had suffered at her hand.

There are so many ways to break a heart.

She was trying to rescue the little bug from her sink full of water afraid it might drown while hunting for a scrap of something to decompose and knowing what great value they are to decomposing things, she took it right out to where kitchen scraps had been covered over with some dirt that had been dug out first. Once it had been swept to the cooler, shaded side of the dirt, she didn’t see it again and could only hope that it had managed to bury itself for soothing.

It was hot enough now that it didn’t seem to matter much if glass and curtains were left open from any windows and there were puffs of air pushing curtains back that had a coolness to them reminiscent of fall. It’s a queer time of year when dirt is far too hot to walk on, can fry a poor unsuspecting little pincher bug in seconds that are split, and a tank of hot water can be run from any hose left under the Sun but yet a sense of refrigerated cooling can be felt in a puff of moving air.

She saved another pincher bug today by taking it out to cooler grounds.

There are so many ways to break a heart, and just as many that can heal one.

break a heart giant