Beat It

A year taken month by month, a month taken day by day, and days taken by the hour. Break that down into minutes, seconds…

I’m told (I’ve been told) that’s the secret to getting by. I’ve tried it.

And so:

Yesterday now is tomorrow; September was five minutes; it’s already Christmas. I was never a child; dinosaurs roam the earth!

Beat-by-beat-by-beat.

10 seconds or a year, it doesn’t matter. Does it?

Just got to get through, and on to the next thing.

Whenever that is.

Like it matters.

 

 

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Filed under Change, Philosophy, Time, Travel

Thin Slices

As a warm-up/breaking the ice kind of exercise, the class facilitator asked us each of us to name ONE GOOD THING that has happened in the past week to SHARE with the class.

In her case: she won resort tickets from the local radio station.

In another: a pregnant person in class said that she felt her baby kick for the first time.

In another: someone got the unexpected (but very much welcomed) gift of cash instead of the dreaded presents they were expecting.

Or was that the dreaded present?

I can’t remember. And I forgot the rest. 18 of us in the class, but I forget what else was said.

I was too busy scraping my dregs of my mind for something – anything – GOOD that happened that week to SHARE.

Recent memory is sometimes the worst memory.

“It doesn’t have to be a big thing, like winning radio tickets,” the facilitator added hastily, sensing the trepidation among those of us in the class facing the immense, the profuse difficulty of finding something – anything – GOOD to SHARE. Anything GOOD that happened that week.

It had to be GOOD and you had to SHARE it.

Big ask.

“Not anything that big. You can slice thin. Slice it really thin and share.”

She gave examples: not stubbing your toe. Not getting stuck in traffic on the way to class. Not having a swing a dead cat anywhere to make a point. Not being diseased in any serious way. Not being (as) destitute (as you could, and probably someday will, be).

(I may have made some of those up.)

“Slice it real thin, and you’ll see how having just a few good things happen can get your through the day.”

Slice it thin and you’ll see.

How thin, though?

But how thin? 

How thin must we go until we get there?

 

 

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Filed under Communications, Education, Language, People

No Holiday Excuse

Happy Thanksgiving.

Spent all day yesterday making: turkey (now little more than a carcass), brussels sprouts (roasted – none of that boiling like it’s a severed head, or anything), mashed potatoes (spaced and left the skin on), peas (ripped from the pod) and stuffing (for the stuffing).

Is that not an excuse for this truncated blog post? I think it isn’t.

After all:

turkey

brussels spouts

mashed potatoes

peas and stuffing.

 

Such a fine repast! Such a cultivated dinner, civilized, tame.

***

The preference of white meat over dark meat (and vice versa)? Perplexing.

 

 

 

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Filed under Ceremony, Food, Holiday

Dream State

Lou got me up early and it was a relief.

“I’m tired of dreaming,” I told him. “Let’s go out.”

It was a miserable, wet day and the sun had already decided to shun the remainder. That was also fine, also a great relief. Such a pitiless contrast between the dream and waking world was exactly what I needed to ground myself in the here and now. The real world?

I suppose I could describe the dreams; these dreams I’ve been having over the past couple of days (and days). And I do remember them.

But no.

The imagery is still too sharp, the flashes of dream reality too visceral. I feel more than I remember, but that’s more than enough.

Why this? Why now? That is not for me to say.

Let me just say: the subconscious is a lewd, lewd place.

Also: I am so over cowboy hats.

 

 

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Filed under Dogs, Dreams, Interruptions, Mind and Body, Pets

Big Beautiful Month

Hello October, you big beautiful beast of a month!

Here you are at last, and again.

It’s been too long.

Too many days not October, too many days of rain or snow or sun.

Too many days in waiting: the anticipation, the despair. No more.

Harvest time.

***

Some October Facts:

– October is gourd month. Did you know that? Don’t you know that? There are gourds galore everywhere, right now, and here you are just sitting there.

Thanksgiving is in October, in Canada. But always a week earlier than seemingly expected. How does that happen? October magic.

– Halloween, the 31st, culminates October. No other holidays do that. December 31st, after all, is a more an ending of one day and a year (one particular episode among so many others) only to begin another. October’s end is October’s and October’s alone.

October does not drag.

October does not blink.

October is a harbinger.

             For whom? Of what?

That is for October to know and decide.

Just remember that I told you so.

 

 

 

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Filed under Change, Events, Holiday, Time

Dead & Deader Till We Get to Deadest

Books are dead.”

I keep coming back to this, not because of any apparent (or is that obvious?) absurdity of the statement itself, but the mean-spirited intent behind it. It is one of the funniest things (intentional or not) that I’ve had another person say to my face in a good long while. It has become my dead horse. A true gift.

But anyway, it is Friday – week’s end! And with that in mind, here is a list of the books I’ve been reading over the past couple of weeks and months.

There is no order to the list, no rankings or ratings or reviews. I just like to keep a tally so that I know what I’m reading after having read it. I also know that this list will tell you less about me than it will ultimately reveal.

That’s good for both of us.

That’s what’s best for everyone:

  1. Vi – Kim Thuy
  2. Barracoon – Zora Neale Hurston
  3. Trail of Lightening – Rebecca Roanhorse
  4. Pachinko – Min Jin Lee
  5. The Red Threads of Fortune – Jy Yang
  6. Marriage of a Thousand Lies – S.J. Sindu
  7. Eloquent Rage – Brittney Cooper
  8. Kilkenny – Louis L’amour
  9. Chicken With Plums – Marjane Satrapi
  10. Mr. Fortune’s Maggot – Sylvia Townsend Warner

These are books that I will say that I recommend – or don’t, depending on what you’re looking for in a book, depending on what your particular whims or needs or desires are.

In any case, if it is indeed true that books are dead, they can’t possibly get any deader, can they? They’re the deadest they’ve ever been!

And how could you argue with that?

 

 

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Filed under Books, Death, Language, Words

Bumper Crop

As it turns out, the one tomato plant I bought on a whim because it cost a dollar (even though it was wilted, mostly dead or dying and seemed to be more brown than green) was the plant of the garden this year, producing, shall we say, a rather bumper crop of produce:

IMG_9072

As for the rest, a confession: despite earlier enthusiasm, I eventually left the garden to fallow…though before it can do that I suppose it needs “to rot.”

It is. Rotting, I mean.

Nothing untoward or gross – just a slow decay indicative, really, of my failure to provide care or manage it.

To care, I mean.

The other tomato plants died in the ungodly heat and for lack of rain, and water (two very different things, as it turns out). Likewise, the jalapeños and other assorted peppers (bell, ghost, habanero) perished. The squash and the mystery plants, though a mysteries no more, were ravaged by vermin (raccoons, skunks, squirrels and rabbits, we had them all this year).

It was more than enough to demoralize, to quit. To not to care, not anymore.

I can only blame myself. And the gods.

I realize. I was too ambitious. Next year will be another year, at least, to try.

But that, I also suppose, goes without saying.

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Change, Death, Food, Hobbies, Plants, THE FUTURE

Won’t Amount to a Hill of These

My habit isn’t to eavesdrop on people, but I do at times catch snatches of conversations that are hard to keep to myself.

 

Yesterday, it was one about beans:

“I can’t eat so many things right now.”

“You want chicken wings? My mom can make chicken – ”

“No.”

“How about tacos?”

“With the kids? Too messy.”

“Oh.”

“You know. I can have chilli. She makes good chilli.”

“Okay! Chilli it is.”

“Problem is, I hate beans in my chilli. Can’t handle them. Especially now.”

“So we’ll ask her not to put them in.”

“Oh, please.”

“What?”

“Remember the time you mentioned you didn’t want beans and she served you a bowl of bean-less chilli and then she gave me mine and it was just full of beans? And I told her, again, that I can’t stomach beans in my chilli and she was like ‘Oh, you don’t like them?’”

“That was just a misunderstanding.”

“No it wasn’t. She hates me. She did it on purpose. Because she hates me.”

“She doesn’t – ”

“She’s crazy and she hates me.”

“Because…she puts beans in your chilli?”

THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO ABOUT BEANS. You didn’t have any beans in your chilli.”

 

Shortly after, it was time for their appointment. I watched as they walked out of my life, presumably forever.

Memory and conviction are odd catalysts in conversation – where they will take you and where they don’t, and what that will do to the rest of your day.

It wasn’t about the beans.

It wasn’t ever about the beans.

 

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Filed under Communications, Family, Food, Relationships, THE FUTURE, THE PAST

The Swan

“Mr. Fister,[*] Cindy wants a swan!”

“Well,” said Fister, looking directly at my face and smiling the way animals do when issuing some imminent threat, “then she can ask for one.”

The exchange was a surprise; I was hovering in the doorway of the school’s Hospitality class waiting for Dolly so we could walk home.

I was not angling for a swan, one of dozens of confectionary creations made that afternoon by the class for parents’ night.

I did not want a swan. I did not want to ask for a swan. The swans looked chalky to me, dry and especially pathetic. They looked like uneven, bottom-heavy worms that tapered upwards into a vague S-shape with two dark sprinkles for eyes and a gob of icing for a beak.

They looked like hell.

Dolly looked at me expectedly. Mr. Fister tucked his small teeth under the greying hair of his handlebar mustache.

Hell is.

“Mr. Fister, can I have a swan?”

Mr. Fister watched as I reluctantly plucked a swan at random; one from among the demented flock before me. That was probably the worst part: that despite everything, I had also brought this on myself.

I took one bite: I was right. It was chalky, dry. It tasted like stale, hollowed-out bread. And something else, far more distasteful…

The incident remains largely forgotten in my daily life. But sometimes, when I encounter ugly birds or badly-executed desserts or unseemly, overbearing men, or when Dolly again does something that particularly annoys, I remember that foul-tasting little swan, the only innocent among the four of us that day.

 

________________________________________________

[*] Was “Fister” even his real name? If it ever mattered, it doesn’t now.

 

 

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Filed under Birds, Education, Family, People, School, THE PAST

Conversations About Dogs With Near Strangers

I had met Shari before, at a seminar, but we did not speak to each other, the class getting much in the way of that.

On our second meeting, waiting in the dim little hallway for the class to begin, we talked about dogs.

Hers is 8 years old, a bulldog/boxer mix with an attitude problem that she’s tried to work with him to, if not remedy (he’s too far gone for that), mitigate. I told her about Lou, our 14 year old dachshund, and even got into the specifics of his many issues and countless idiosyncrasies, and all the things we’ve done to help him along with those.

Strangers can talk to each other about their dogs for days; dogs being a “safe” topic for discussion with people you don’t really know all that well – a way to talk about yourself without having to talk about yourself.

Dogs help us open up.

A confession, then, from Shari: “I know this sounds weird, but I’m already thinking of the day I’ll have to put my dog down. I shouldn’t be, he’s old but not that old. But I can’t seem to help it.”

“I think about that too,” I replied. “It’s not so weird.”

“Well, when I have to, I’ll have to. You know?”

Dogs teach us about responsibly (to think about it, to take it seriously). They help us with our empathy. And they teach us about mortality: the impermanence of things, and what (if anything) we can do about it.

Another confession from Shari: “I’m worried about how my newborn son will get along with my dog. But we’ll just have to figure something out. I am not getting rid of the dog.”

Ah, yes. Of course.

Dogs help us prioritize.

 

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Filed under Animals, Death, Dogs, Mind and Body, People, Philosophy