Friday, May 19, 2017

2.5, Suburban Standard

"This was the week we planned on..." A gauntlet to the chances and fates, no? This was not the week we anticipated having our compressor fail, nor was it the week we looked forward to camping in the kitchen and den, the two rooms that the portable a/c unit we'd purchased after the last a/c failure is able to keep cool.

Take a deep breath. Crappy, discursive sentences aside, it has been a week that reminded me of all the ways that houses are built to function singly--for one particular type of family (two adults, no more than four children), for one physicality (healthy), for continuous provision of electricity. Half of the house is already humid and silent, two days of disuse rendering it odd and unnecessary. The television has been mostly left silent and one of us has made a dent in his reading list. The other of us has spent several afternoons with the dogs in the backyard, watching the tomatoes and mouse melons change colors and following the spiders and crickets and whatever those nasty orange bugs are creep through the jungle that is the vegetable bed. The zombie pumpkins are billowing out of the sides of one bed. This morning, a female cardinal landed on the fence, watched us sitting on the hammock, and then dove into the garden for a snack run.

If I go into the back, intending to work on a project, I'm caught by the stuffiness and the smell of the house reminds me of relatives' houses on summer vacations. Those houses had thinner walls and I remember the curtains moving. You kept the windows open to let the air flow. You served hot coffee on summer afternoons and the adults sat in the kitchen, close to the coffee and the cool tile. If possible, you turned the kids outside.

I was a reader--it was hard to get me outside but it wasn't hard to install me in a quiet room with a book. For a little while. Eventually, the stillness would get to me and I would go outside just to move around and chase the breezes.

Some of that restlessness returns with the stuffiness. I want to open the windows, but I'm asked to shut doors and close curtains and to be careful if I want to go sit in the back of the house, where the coolness is not but the silence behind the fans is thick and damp and happier when undisturbed. The house wasn't built for this. It would prefer us to go outside.

Friday, May 12, 2017


It's been almost five months since I last posted and it seems right that this is the lead post away from that silence. There were several personal goals and deadlines that I'd set for myself during the beginning of the year:
  • Stop blaming the negative drag on my mood as remnants from the election
  • Finish a story I'd begun for my husband
  • Finish the poetry book I'd been inspired to start last year
    • Before the recent local author book festival
    • Before the beginning of May
    • Before the first half of the year was gone
    • Before this meeting and then that meeting
  • Outline the duology about suburban magic
  • Outline a vampire novel about a vampire who decides to give up the faith
  • Actually decorate for my husband's birthday
  • Finish the short stories that would serve as the introduction to the book of poetry
  • Finish just the one short story featuring a monkey
  • REALLY. Sit down and work on the monkey story.
  • There is a story. About a monkey who wrecks a woman's ability to enjoy stories once upon a time. FINISH IT.
  • Forget about the monkey story.
  • No, you're not going to work on that story.
  • Crap. Okay, one page hinting at the theme of the monkey story. In this tiny notebook. And then stop.
And then I picked up a book by an author whom I've met and looked at it. Looked at the back, where the blurbs sparkles like bubbles down to the edge of the dust jacket. Looked at the cover, looked at the table of contents, weighed the entire book in one hand, thumbed through the pages. Thought about all the work that had gone into that book. Asked myself whether goals deferred and goals unmet meant goals that I no longer believed in or cared about.

Seriously considered that what I really wanted to be and do was something else and that writing was always a second choice.

Once upon a time there was a monkey who could see that some things--stories, dreams--were alive in a way that animals are not. It wanted to know what they were made of. All it needed was a room and two little kids who would believe in the buttons and dials and Jacob's ladders of a lab long enough for the monkey to see through to the bones of the stories and a few tame stories.