Tag Archives: Life

Numbers Game

13 is an unlucky number. Likewise is 4 inauspicious, deadly even.

5 is a good number, divisible into two plus one left over, just in case. 5 is a prepared, good-natured number.

11 stands in solidarity, no matter what.

You cannot dispute the double happiness of 88. Go ahead and try it. You can’t! My parents refuse to even entertain the possibility. The impertinence of it!

Luck can certainly turn, which is why some buildings won’t officially have a 13th floor and some house numbers skip over 4, not like it doesn’t exist but because it does. And I wonder what people have done just to ensure they get 88, ignoring the possibilities of, say, 11 and good ‘ol number 5.

Poor 5, good-natured and underrated. It’s no 42, but it could be a contender, if only.

***

My second grade teacher, fresh from teacher’s college and seemingly only a few years older than myself (13, if not 4), reprimanded me harshly for crossing my 7s – adding that little dash (-) in the middle which made it, in my mind, a more robust, reliable number.

Not apparently so.

Crossing my 7s was rude, she said. It made the 7 into a bad symbol, one of hate and ignorance.

Did I want to be ignorant? Was I hateful?

Civil 7’s for her then; anything else was savage, uncouth. Not to be borne.

Poor thing. Some people can’t handle it, the numbers game. Life, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Childhood, Death, Family, People, THE PAST

Close (But Not Too Close)

The lab tech leaned in close as the clamour in the next stall (cries of laughter, joy, and pure, unadulterated mischief raised above the level of what very well could be deemed acceptable patter in the workplace), as the commotion behind the screen reached what I later realized was its absolute pitch (for a while, it seemed that the chatter and babble were on-going, a constant feature of the place itself).

In a most conspiratorial fashion, the tech, an older lady with a severe expression and total poise, told me that the employees there needed to act more professionally while at work. She went on about other Things, Things that were seen but noticed.

“It’s not right, all this, is it?” She leaned back and nodded, confident in the unspoken knowledge that I understood.

“Can you believe it?” whispered the cashier, ostensibly meaning the person who had been in front of me in the line, who had tried to pay with a store credit card from a different store. “This world, I tell you.” She went on, a tall, statuesque woman with kind eyes. She took her time, telling me about the state of things, what was happening. Her held her tongue as a manager walked pass, then continued. “You know,” she said.

“No, no, sweetheart. Not that one,” came the gentle admonishment from the woman behind me. “Put it back. It’s no good, it’s no good.” Her clothes were careworn, her face open and friendly as she spoke. She told me more, slowly, carefully so that I would not lose a word of what she said as we stood there in the open-air market. The smile dropped from her face as she left, neutralizing her once more, giving her cover as she moved back into the milling crowd.

Every time, though never when I expect it: they lean in close, but not too close, and tell me Things that need saying, that are not to be trifled with, or ignored.

Maybe I just have that face.

Same as theirs, but different.

You know what I’m saying? Don’t you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Interruptions, People, Places

Wayward Birds

Who now?

I have a friend who went to ornithology camp.

What?

Bird Camp.

Do you know what they do at bird camp?

They set up great big nets in the sky, between tall, sturdy trees, nets like immense spiders’ webs; strong but gentle, and catch birds. They do that so that they can tag the birds, count, measure and weigh them.

But why?

For science.

How, exactly?

They use used (well, used up) toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls to hold the birds – the nuthatches and swallows and the occasional indigo bunting – to keep them still and calm and immobilized. Very science.

And did you know, though, what they use to hold the big birds? The hawks and harriers and the occasional owl? Bird nerds need to bind the big birds, those big birds, too.

Pringles containers.

Imagine that. And also the places they had go.

Where then?

Imagine, (see it now), bird nerds descending on Costco or Walmart or 7-11 or Shoppers to buy Pringles – sour cream and onion, salt and vinegar, barbeque – and eating the chips or not eating the chips just to have someplace to put a wayward falcon.

Imagine wayward falcons.

I sometimes wonder what that’s like: to love something, not someone, that much. To make that extra effort, just to see it through.

To let something define you, if not wholly, but indelibly somehow, so that it sticks with you even as you go on with the rest of your life. And then you tell someone else about it.

Can you imagine that? I’d like to think I can.

I’d like to think I can.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Birds, Friends

Day Planners Are For People Who Do Things

Now that I have officially dropped out of my PhD program and am underemployed, I have come to the realization that day planners are for people who do things.  It was pure arrogance and folly for me to have picked one up after wrenching myself so abruptly from the tender pink womb of academia, and now I am paying for my own abortion.

Case In Point:  Before my life went to total shit, my day planner read like the annals of an accomplished, successful adult human being:

See all that stuff up there?  That was me.  I was TREMENDOUS.

Now, the only things my day planner is good for is counting off the days until the up-coming year and keeping track of my period.  It has become a record for the obvious and tiresome.

And yet, I feel that I have to plod bravely on, if only to prove to my day planner that my life is still worth the effort of living it.

It is not going well:

Do I really need to remind myself that it’s garbage day?  No, goddamit, but I have to fill the pages somehow.  Gone are the confident days that I gave day planner the privilege of being privy to the wonderful goings-on of my day-to-day life.  There are more question marks than exclamation marks in my notations now, like I’m asking DayPlanner for permission to carry on.

Because I NEED DayPlanner’s approval in order to validate my continued existence.

Am I good enough for you, DayPlanner?!  Are you fucking satisfied, you fucker?!

I am trying, DayPlanner, I’m trying so hard to please you, o.k.???!!

(don’t you look at me)

So, to all of you busy people, with your lives of purpose and day planners replete with jobs to achieve and events to attend, remember that I, too, was once like you.

I, too, had things to do.

And now my day planner, once accomplice, devotee and comrade, seethes at me from its place on the corner of my desk.  It is an unhappy, sexless marriage of two formally vibrant, compatible individuals.

But I made a commitment and I intend to keep it.

I am even trying to spice up our relationship by making predictions and setting goals for the future!

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Filed under Employment