Haste

Haste is the way to acquiring closets full of plastic junk and no treasure.

The early bird and all that.

It’s polite to be on time but far worse to teach your children to live under society’s shadow, self-denial in praise of the voice of high hurry.

Get a fast car and, whatever you do, don’t drive a car from last century unless it’s shined and in a parade.

Get over it already, hurdle horse, because grief and confusion and loss are slow and uncomfortable. At least don’t talk about it.

Clean the house.

Cleanliness is not a virtue.

A dirty cup is no more sinful than a barking dog.

And if I say to you, “Be quick”, because I’ve forgotten what I just wrote,

Say to me, “Have a cup. Rinse it if you must, but sit and drink it until you hear the ice loosen from the soil outside your window.”

Remind me that acquisition is heavy,

a burden so weighty, I won’t be able to help you with yours.

In fact, I might not even see you.

Tax Time

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It’s that self reflective time of year again that always comes before Easter. It’s tax time.

The on-line tax filing program asks its questions politely and directly. I admire that quality. What puts me off, though, is that it refers to me in the third person.

Does Shannon want to contribute $3.00 to the Presidential campaign? It will not change (her) tax or refund.

Who checks this box?  It raises too many questions. Where does the money come from then, if not the taxpayer?  What’s it used for? Flags and confetti? Some party you’ll never be invited to? Shannon will say no.

What is Shannon’s status?

The choices are pretty limited here. Nowhere is the option of Master of her own destiny. So she is left with choosing between Single or Head of Household. She asks herself, “Do I flit or do I swagger?” She’s never been much of a swaggerer. It’s something she’ll have to work on.

Does Shannon have any dependents?

Well, yes, the two she awakens every morning and sends to bed every night depend on her. What about the people she helps out on a regular basis to relieve their domestic burdens? Does the boy in carpool count? And what about the occasional or unexpected dependents?  There was the woman who took her arm so as not to slip on the ice. And other drivers, they depend on her to follow the rules, to stop when she’s supposed to stop, to go when she’s supposed to go.

Can anyone claim Shannon as a dependent?

Probably. There is a lot of kindness in the world. Shannon depends on that. Funny, there is no mention of co-dependents.

Is Shannon blind?

Yes, she is. But she does have moments of clarity.

Did Shannon have any farm income?

No, although she’d like to have a farm some day. Not a hobby farm because it seems to her that farms cannot be considered hobbies. One cannot set down a farm on the floor beside the arm chair or leave the farm on the dining room table before going off to bed. One cannot leave a farm in the shed when they lock up shop.

And what’s all this about railroads? In her whole life she has known only one single person who works for the railroad. She suspects he works alone. It must be a very special job to warrant a shout out on the tax form.

Moving right along, we come to charitable donations.

Did Shannon make any monetary donations to charity?

Did Shannon make any non monetary donations to charity?

This is the part of the form where taxpayers get to feel all righteous, to reassure themselves that they did learn to share when they were in kindergarten.

When did Shannon acquire the goods she gave to charity?

What was the original cost of the goods?

This one is a stumper. Shannon will have to come back to itIn fact, she’s going to log off now.

Are you sure you want to quit?

Absolutely. (It’s too taxing)

Seeking Employment

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I am literate and write well. I am organized, efficient, and I easily retain information.

I don’t often use big words and I don’t usually swear.

Dogs like me.

I can’t fly a plane but I know how to book cargo or set a person up for a pleasant vacation.

I’ve taught people, children mostly, despite the fact that I don’t have a teaching license.

I’ve cared for the elderly and those with developmental disabilities (I hate that categorization), but I don’t have current certification to prove it.

Once I fit a square peg into a round hole, though the square was a couch and the round hole was a doorway.

I’ve hung sheetrock, laid tile, rewired, and fixed toilets. I’ve hung doors. Admittedly, getting them to hang straight with the latch gliding smoothly over the strike plate to click quietly was more luck than skill. I’ve mowed lawns, shoveled snow, hauled dirt, laid patio stones. And I’ve painted. I’ve done lots of painting.

I can’t drive a bus and I don’t want to.

I understand english and spanish and french. I would say that I speak those languages but I’m really not much of a talker. Sometimes I speak in different accents.

I know how to prioritize tasks. For example, in order to make pancakes for my hungry household, first I have to wake up, brush my teeth, and start the coffee. Since I’ve used most the distilled water in the coffee pot, I’ll have to refill the distiller. Before I can do that, I need to empty the dishwasher so I can load it with last night’s popcorn bowls and milk cups that are in the sink. I’ll start the quinoa for the pancakes while I’m doing that and by the time it boils and simmers for a while, I can turn off the stove, turn my attention to Betty, who has been gazing at me this whole time, wondering when it will be her turn for a walk.

I do have an MFA in creative writing and I won a prize for my thesis. That’s just a bit of extra information.

I’m 50.

I’m not naive and I like it when people are straightforward and honest. I’m not easily offended. If you maligned my kids in some way, that would offend me. Or if you gave me one cent as a raise, that would offend me.

So, if you or someone you know is looking for a person like me to fill a vacancy, send me a message. I will be like that machine that never breaks down, humming in the background.

 

Flies in the Kitchen

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Yesterday, I looked closely at a fly, noted the iridescent green of its bumpy back, and decided that was my favorite color. I looked at its helmet face and complicated body. I didn’t swat it because I don’t like how they squish.

But that was yesterday. Today I realized what a sucker I’d been because now there were 50 flies in the kitchen, split evenly between two windows, hiding out under the blinds. I made a fly trap from a water bottle, using a banana peel, vinegar, and old spaghetti sauce as bait.

While I waited for the trap to work, I decided to try out our newly inherited paper shredder. Oh! the satisfaction! I never knew how enjoyable it could be. The gas and electric bills became confetti. The mortgage statements became rodent bedding. The rejection letters were nothing but the soft, curled grey of a memory.

When I returned to the kitchen to see how my trap was working, I saw that it wasn’t. It had trapped only the stupidest two. The others were having a festival, forming their fly relationships, planning their maggot families. It irritated me. So I got out the handheld vacuum and sucked them all up.

Their new cylindrical prison was clearly overcrowded. Some were stunned. Some buzzed with indignation. I could have left them to die but I’m no warden. I see no need to try and govern the lives of others. So I brought them outside to the compost heap, which isn’t a heap at all, but a series of holes I dig, fill up and cover over. And I set the flies free.

 

Photo Distraction

Instead of mowing the lawn, I carried two boxes of pictures upstairs to sort. It has been three days and there’s still no eating at the dining room table and the lawn isn’t mown either. Here are some pictures that I looked at longer, didn’t readily sequester into a plastic bag.

Merry-go-round

This first one is of late teenage me on a merry-go-round and I appear to be having a good time. On a merry-go-round? Late teens? Something isn’t right. My happiness must’ve stemmed from the fact that I had long fingernails, painted a glittery pink. It must’ve given me a thrill to be able to tap those things, point those things, to look down and admire my other worldly hands. That phase was short lived. They kept getting in the way and, like high heeled shoes, I realized they were a voluntary handicap.

Kimballbearjas

The next one is when we were living in the jungles of east St. Paul. Kimball, the old guy, is on the left. Jas is on the right. Bear, a gentle Newfie we took care of now and then, is in the middle.

I used to think of this yard as my conscious mind, the way it seemed chaotic no matter what I did. Every year I sprinkled grass seed. Every year it didn’t grow. The picket fence was rotting in places. Rusted nails would slip from the softened wood and the pickets would fall at the slightest pressure. Behind the house there was a slope, a drop off where the soil was eroding. It was there that I built steps. I had the bags of concrete piled on the warped surface of the picnic table. They rested on each other like dead fish.

This concrete is like the work of writing, I thought. It is a physical task, the hefting of those bags, so heavy it feels like my chest will cave in. Oh, and the strain on a writer’s delicate wrists. And it’s a mental chore. How do I get the bags to the bottom of the slope with the least exertion? What will I use for filler? How high? How wide? How much water is too much water? How will I keep it contained? 

Thankfully, I’m not such a whiner anymore and, today, I would use a completely different metaphor. Back then I couldn’t separate the need to sort out the chaos by writing and my fear of the house sliding down the hill.

Grandpa

The next picture I found tonight is at my grandparent’s farm in Little Falls, Minnesota, where, except when we lived in Montreal, we used to spend our summers.

My grandpa had a big head and hats always rested upon his head like a crown. The dog is named Spook. His rusty water can is just out of the picture, as is the slow dripping hose in the can. I’m missing those summers with my people a lot. I’m missing my past and that’s probably why I hauled those pictures upstairs in the first place.

Blonddog

And this last picture is of the All Knowing dog in El Jabón, Venezuela.