Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Day (Late) of Sharing Words

Some of the time, going home,
I go
Blind and can’t find it.
The house I lived in growing up and out
The doors of high school is torn
Down and cleared
Away for further development, but that does not stop me.
First in the heart
Of my blind spot are
The Buckhead Boys.
If I can find them, even one,I’m home.
And if I can find him
catch him in or around Buckhead, I’ll never die:
it’s likely my youth will walk
Inside me like a king.

title: Searching for the Buckhead Boys (first stanza)
by James Dickey

I Want to Live Here Episode 42

Evidence or not, I wish I’d secured at least one photo of Abigail and Ken. I wanted to know if Kevin could identify him.
Nancy heard male voices in her apartment but can’t identify anyone except Tim. And she won’t be here long enough to audio i.d. Ken. Mrs. Mason? Mr. Invalid? Tim might know.
I want to know if he was here when she fell and if so, did he leave her in need of help. He can’t just get away with that.
“ All I know is someone was with her the afternoon of the 23rd and that’s the day she died, right? I heard her fighting with someone and I heard a crash,” said Nancy. “Then I heard the front door open and close but I was in the hall closet under the stairs (which is why I was able to hear them so well, there’s less insulation there.”
“There’s a twelve-inch cement wall between the units. It’s for fire protection but it helps with sound.”
“Maybe so, but I tell you I was emptying our closet and could hear two people arguing in her apartment.”
“Her closet door must have been open, too,” said Stephen, dubiously.
“I bet you heard them through the kitchen windows. Didn’t you say they were in the kitchen?”
“At some point, they must have been because they made drinks,” she insisted. “But I heard them in the living room and I heard the man leave.”
“How do you know it was the man?” asked Stephen.
“Well, who else would it be? She never left.”
“You can’t be sure of that,” said Stephen. “We’re assuming she moved to the couch after she fell and died there, but she might have roamed around the whole complex.”
“But remember Tim said he saw her---“
“No, he saw her with Ken when he opened the door.”
“There you are,” said Nancy. “Tim saw her with Ken around the same time I heard them. I’m sure it was the same time. It was afternoon.”
“That tallies with when I was expecting George and Ken and only George showed up,” I said.
“What are you trying to do, anyway?” asked Nancy. “Figure out when he was here?”
“When he was here, when he left, if he was the only one in the apartment after she hit her head.”
“But what are you getting at? What do you want?”
“She’s trying to make him responsible for Abigail’s death,” said Stephen.
“No, I’m not,” I said, too fast to have considered the idea.
“Aren’t you?” he persisted. “Isn’t that what you’ve been trying to do since you found out they knew each other?”
“I don’t know. I’m trying to figure out how she died and if someone could have saved her. She was calling me. If I’d been in the office, I’d have reached her. Tim was right there. What if he’d come back instead of stealing her car? And Ken. What if he hadn’t left her alone? What if he’d taken her to the hospital? And you, Nancy. You were home.”
“But what if she was fine when he left?” argued Stephen.
“What if she kicked his ass out?” asked Nancy. “That’s what I was hearing. They didn’t sound like they were going to see each other again soon.” She swallowed the dregs of her wine, rose and walked to the kitchen. I heard her wash the glass and the light-hearted ping of the crystal against the faucet. Stephen and I exchanged looks. He rose and took my glass, which was half full, and downed the contents.
“You know what,” she said, returning with a tin of Christmas cookies. “They sounded like we do, Stephen, when we argue about leaving Atlanta. Like the fight’s been going on forever and nothing’s going to change.”
“Like they were bored?” he said.
“Yeah, but can’t stop picking at it.”

Monday, November 17, 2008

I Want to Live Here Episode 41

“Bingo!” I screamed from the kitchen.
“Whatcha got?” asked Stephen, hurrying in with Abigail’s high school yearbook.
“Look what I found behind the bulletin board.” I was chanting with glee, waving a well-worn, slightly smearing envelope in which were tucked a half dozen photos.
“The happy couple?”
“In better days,” I nodded.
“You guys are real sensitive,” said Nancy. “Let’s see.”
I laid the photos down on Abigail’s glass-topped table.
“It looks like they were in Cape Cod,” said Stephen, examining each snapshot.
Abigail and Ken Eberhard sat at the same small table we’d seen in the missing photo.
“Only in this one there’s no shadow.”
“Her girlfriend’s a better photographer,” said Stephen. “They didn’t even know she was there, much less taking their picture.”
“They do look very involved.”
“That’s putting it mildly,” I said. Ken and Abigail were so hunched over the table heading in each other’s direction, they had to be readying for a kiss.
“Wonder where the next frame is,” said Stephen. “Even if there were only twelve shots on the roll, that’s a couple missing.”
“Four,” said Nancy. “Four are missing.”
“Maybe Ken has them,” I said. “Or the buddy here. Maybe they took a few of her—"
We were so engrossed in speculation, no body heard the front door open or Judith walk in, “Hello! Is anyone here?”
Quick as a black jack dealer, Stephen scooped up the photos and collapsed them into his the pouch of his sweatshirt.
“Excuse me, but do any of you have a reason to be here?”
“My blender,” said Nancy.
“I said it was ok if they took their blender.”
“Abigail borrowed it last week,” said Nancy.
“She had a daiquiri party,” said Stephen. “It was fun.”
“Mnn.” Judith wasn’t buying it but I was impressed with their quick thinking. They were like something in a Saturday Night Live skit: Jane and Chevy.
“We wanted to ask for it sooner, but it just never seemed like a good time,” said Nancy.
“So tonight it just seemed the better part of discretion to just take it back and let them move on.”
“You’re leaving for Seattle tomorrow, then?” asked Judith.
“First thing,” said Nancy.
“I know it’s awkward,” said Stephen, “but is it okay with you if we just take it now?”
“ I suppose,” she said, raising her eyebrows at me. I’d never seen Judith hold her temper so tight.
“It is their’s,” I said. “I’ve seen it in their apartment.”
“I’m sure it is, Nora,” she said. “You and I will talk tomorrow and set up some processes for the future.”
“Sounds like a plan,” I said. “You got it?” I asked Stephen, who was in the kitchen replacing the photographs behind the bulletin board. “Having a little trouble with the plug,” he said, ripping it from the wall with a brisk yank. The blender was a brand new Hamilton Beach. Ah well, I’m sure Susan would never miss it. What I didn’t know was why he replaced the photos. I wanted to take them with us.

“Evidence,” he whispered as we followed Judith and Nancy out the front door. Judith waited until we were into the townhouse next door before pulling Abigail’s door to and locking it. “Can’t remove it from the scene.”

Friday, November 14, 2008

Art Journal Pages for Random Arts

Here are variations on a non-theme journal page challenge. This is the first time I've participated in a challenge. It was issued by Random Arts' blog random notes. Random Arts is in Saluda, N.C., and while I've never been there (yet), a visit is forthcoming...sooner than later. Usually, when heading into N.C. for art fixes, we head to the John C. Campbell School or Penland School. When heading to or from Penland, there's Asheville and Black Mountain to visit. Saluda is something new (to me).
Also new, creating to a theme or with constraints of having to use some or all of the materials sent by artist blogger (and gemini) Jane Powell. What a week of anxiety! I seem able to work easily when alone, when teaching a class or taking one, but responding to a friendly challenge brought out all my latent competitiveness and perfectionist tendencies. When this happens, I wind up working on two or three pieces: one for the inner nag, one for the inner good girl and one for the real me. Not sure who did either of the above, but I like the one with the empty clothesline.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

3Day Final Mile

My feet and shins are back to normal. Was able to hike Kennesaw on Sunday for three hours. As I am not familiar with this mountain (my last visit was in 1976 about a week after unpacking from huge move Southward to this land of which I knew little beyond the words of Peggy Mitchell, Jimmy Carter and Greg Allman.) That day was remarkable by the loss of a stained-glass peace sign I'd worn round my neck for seven years, a fitting pivotal point. The accent would take a little longer.

Still, there are so many photos to show from the 3Day and I'm still working on a cootie collage to print and mail to supporters.
So, on the third day, we were, as promised, bouyed by the excitement of being nearly there. Little did we know, we'd been there all three days. I mean, think of it. You can never be too far from camp, so despite the weight of 60 miles, we were actually in the neighbhorhood of the closing ceremonies the entire time. This is meaningful in some metaphoric way but I'm not sure how. Perhaps, like Dorothy, we are always in some heel-clicking distance from our heart's desire? I'll think about that tomorrow.

Despite spiritual bouy, a walk is still a walk and by afternoon, I'd ceased to wave and we all understood what the phrase "3Day mile meant." See photo.

I'll admit I did cry at the finish line. Can't speak for Deborah, Julie or Cathy, all of whom seem far more in touch with their emotions than I'll ever be, but if there was a moment to cry, this was it:

Friday, November 7, 2008

Photos from the Tampa St. Pete 3Day

It's called the Tampa Bay 3 Day, but we walked in St. Pete, starting at Fort De Soto Park on a chilly Oct. 31. Our team, "Thanks for the Mammories," wore pink cowgirl hats with as many boas as we could gather, and our crew and guys' team, "S.O.B.s" (Sons, Others and Brothers) wore Bazooka pink hard hats.

This man garnered a lot of eager, early morning photo ops as we waited (and waited) for the opening ceremonies to begin.
Later in the day, we walked a few miles on the Pinellas Trail. By 3 o'clock, I was ready for a beer. We arrived at camp around 5, however.

Thoughts on Completing the 3 Day from a 3-Day Virgin

Here’s how it’s like the first time: No matter what you’ve been told to expect, your own experience is unique. No matter how often you’re told you will come back a changed person, you will still be yourself. Also, I never actually cried, though I did laugh a lot.
Here’s how it’s just like the training months: No matter how many people are cheering and honking, by 2:30 p.m., you want to be finished. Walking 20 miles is a full day’s work and, as such, represents the full-time jobs needed by researchers, fundraisers, care givers to develop a vaccine, find a cure, raise the money, support the survivors and comfort the bereaved.
Here’s how it’s like it always is: An old friend who rejoices in my dark side just called. “You haven’t blogged yet,” she said. “Was it what you expected? When you first told me you were doing this, I thought: How clichéd.” Well, yes and no. One reason it’s taken me five days to gather my thoughts is because I’m still thinking in a mix of clichéd (but true) emotions: Amazing! Inspiring! Wonderful! Unbelievable – and snarky (but true) Grissy-isms: “By late Day 2, I was mowing down survivors and refusing to wave.” “My God, I’m still a bitch, only now I want be applauded constantly. Non-stop cheering was the heroin I discovered in St. Petersburg. Uh oh, now what?”
Here’s how it’s just like high school: How proud I was that I and my three pacing cohorts came in each day ahead of much thinner and much younger women. But oh, how I wish I’d done a Clinton & Stacy when outfitting myself. It took a candid shot by Channel 10 to show me what a Glamour Don’t knee-length shorts really are. Believe me, if I’d only looked in a 360 mirror, I’d have lived with a little chafing. Ah well, next year.
The unexpected grace: Gratitude. By day 2 I realized just how strong an impact our crew was having on my enjoyment and comfort and, therefore, how much a cancer survivor depends on the kindness and willingness of others to serve their basic needs.
The unexpected souvenir: I picked up every pin, necklace, washable tattoo and pink shoelace offered me. What’s hanging on the corkboard in my cube is this: My 3Day lanyard. Why? Because all I have to do is look at this to know the most important lesson I’ve learned this year. It’s a lesson I’ve had unarticulated in my heart since my friendship with my old friend Lindsay Dirkx Brown (who died of breast cancer in 1991) began back in 1972 but which I saw on a sign at camp and attributed to Paulo Coelho: “When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.”
How I’m different: I haven’t had a drink since Monday’s after party. I’m quite the post-work wino. No, it’s not that my two glasses a night is such a lot of wine but that it’s so hard for me not to have them. But not this week. A new kind of hangover? Too soon to tell.

My Big Fat 3Day Hangover

More to come, but the above is my one arty photo. Probably sucks, but there's something true in its bleary run of colors. Essentially, this is how camp looks through the tears of a walker grateful for day's end, her team's enthusiasm, the cheering groups along the way who urged us forward with myriad high-fives and constant thank-yous, lively music and standing ovations. Bless the little girls who, if Tampa Bay's $4.5 million in contributions and 1,500 or so walkers have anything to say about it, will never know a round of chemo or the unwilling skull girdle of a bad wig.

Thanks to Katie T., Atlanta route trainer who over-prepared me. Not a single blister!