Friday, January 29, 2010

The sky in traffic

Got caught in the heart o' Buckhead the other night. It was fun yelling at the timid drivers who don't know how to make left-hand turns on Peachtree Street. Learn the secret! Also, what is the point of driving a giant car if you're going to wait for a $##$%^ invitation to make a turn?

I took this on West Paces Ferry when still in a mellow mood.

Sometimes the morning

is worth the getting up.
When we were girls, my friend Donna used to try and rouse me at 5 to go the beach for sunrise. I never would, because I liked my sleep and my indulgence.
These days I get up because another friend and fellow walker is meeting me in the lobby.
I am always glad but never more so than on mornings like this:

Monday, January 25, 2010

Dangerous Book - Episode 26

Sunday, April 29

This morning I roamed the house like a caged animal, driving Juniper, who really is a caged animal, a little crazy. She followed my anxiety as if it were some kind of Frisbee. I finally scooped her up for a long walk through Evergreen.

A cemetery is a huge garden where the dominant color changes with steady regularity. Those caretakers who were going to bind their daffodil stems into braided chignons had done so. Maintenance workers on riding mowers have sheared the remaining jonquils, daffodils and crocuses to the nub.

What I saw today were the iris tall and unfurling in many plots, yellow replaced by mauve and purple. In their turn, the iris will give way to gladioli and crepe myrtle. Roses will hold steady for months. The plot with the peonies will fade back. I make a note to search for gardenias by their smell.

I was hunting for Lura’s family when a man I took for a wealthy mental patient approached me. But when passed me without stopping, his biscuit-shaped face revealed a normal intelligence. Sloppily fat, wearing loose pink sweats that hung from his belly and then re-draped themselves among the cracks and creases of his body, he jingled an authoritative set of keys.

As I watched, he unlocked the gardener’s shack, a former mausoleum, and entered, returning with a roll of maps, which he laid out on the hood of an old white hearse. Within minutes he seemed to find what he was looking for, rolled up and restored the maps and headed over to the northwest corner, where a green-striped tent was being erected. Someone was moving in today.

Lura’s family plot was as lovely and as insulated from the road and hot sun as I’d feared. Surrounded by a lacy iron fence, her ancestors enjoyed shade and thorny roses. There was a tall, but not immovable jug poised on one slab---the kind I’d like to steal. Briefly, I wondered how to accomplish this.

As Juniper and I left through the south gate, we passed a pair of gravediggers in their blue pickup. Later, on the walk home (we’d gone up to campus and wandered around Kate’s dig) I saw that the new grave had been dug, and about a dozen chairs waited a discreet distance away. The fat man and his white hearse were gone.

That evening as I was taking out the trash, I was distracted by the sight of a man in a new truck with ropes and a mechanical lifting device driving out from Evergreen’s Bear Bryant Road exit. From where I stood, (our dumpster sits nearly against the cemetery’s west fence), I could see that the funeral has occurred and that I had missed the bulk of it, but not its last and most poignant moment.

Four workers carrying shovels, and one carrying nothing at all, were lined up watching as an old man in a dark Sunday suit patted the filled-in grave with the back of a long handled spade. When he finished, he paused, turned and returned the tool to the empty-handed worker, who received it respectfully. The gravediggers shuffled off then, leaving him alone in his suit and white handkerchief.

He must have promised to bury her with his own hands.

In the background another worker trundled a wheelbarrow, spreading the displaced earth elsewhere. A dog barked. A flock of black birds erupted from a wire. A car door opened and shut.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Dangerous Book - Episode 25

Episode 25 January 15, 2010

Wednesday, April 24

My new boyfriend eats very slowly, as if counting every chew. He cooked me a dinner of curry and rice followed by a small key lime pie, which we polished off by taking alternate forkfuls.

“You have it,” I said. “I couldn’t eat another bite.”

“No, you’re the guest.”

This went back and forth until he licked his finger and pressed the remaining crumb with it. Then he held his finger to my mouth and I took the bit of crust from him, tasting his finger in the process. And so on and so on until my lips found friends with his.

Saturday April 27 evening

Croquet last night without Peter. In his place was a rounded and pretty woman named Lura, who arrived with Jacob and Kate. She seemed shy, at least, I found her so, but Jacob took care to teach her the rules we’ve been using and stuck with her. And the others seemed to take her appearance for granted, which reminded me again that I am the character recently introduced, not her. She simply hasn’t been seen for a chapter or two.

I found myself telling everyone that Peter had left a message on my home machine. “He has a job interview in Atlanta,” I said, hoping no one noticed the authority in my voice.

But it was Lura who knew which group he was visiting. She’d worked there herself all year and seemed responsible in some way for his opportunity now.

She mentioned her own family’s practice here, which she will soon join. I recognized the name from some of the more luxurious monuments at Evergreen as well as a curving road that cuts through the town’s small historic district. And so I felt diminished.

These women confuse me. Women like Lura born to a lifetime of belonging, who I know in my head will have plenty of troubles one way or another, but who to me are placed in my path as some kind of challenge.

So, I thought, Peter’s his career is underway. He will leave here. I had to know he would, didn’t I? Of course, I just hadn’t the time yet to think about it. Did I think I was going to fall in love and marry him?

The evening ended eventually. Professor S. slid past us at nearly midnight without greeting. I have not forgotten that he expected me to help him, but Veronica did not watch the game, no one brought any brownies. I didn’t know what he expected me to do or if I could confide his theories to Kate or Billie.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Hanger and Fold: Invisible Ice

Here at the high-rise, we use the solar snow removal process. The snow is all but gone, but what remains are secretive bits of black ice that can, and will, bring you down if you're not careful. Ice, so thin it's the color of the pavement, can be invisible.

So I'll stay tucked up here in the early mornings instead of going out for usual (and much missed) 7 a.m. walk.

I've had to remove my blog posting regarding the store in which I work. I didn't realize there was a company policy about use of the store name (don't do it) and photographs of the store (don't do it). So, no more Hanger and Fold...unless it's fiction, I suppose.

It seems to me that even positive discussions of a personal experience are, when attached to a brand, unwelcome. Is it the control factor? Are we all so fearful and litigious and worried? Are we not human anymore?

Watching out for black ice on warming mornings.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Off the Grid - The Battle

Anatomy of a Battle in the War Against Depression/Failure

An extended stint of unemployment can be challenging, especially for single people holed up in their homes or apartments with, seemingly, nothing more to do than check the same old job boards and struggle against the urge to crawl back to bed.

I know. I’ve been unemployed, semi-employed and underemployed since May, and it’s getting to me. Recently, some lucky freelance assignments have dried up, hours at J.Jill have shrunk, and a cold snap has put my regular, early morning walks on hiatus.

While I write in my journal every morning, creating project ideas and crafting careful to-do lists, I find it harder and harder to actually get out of bed and into my office/studio.

Today, for example, was to be a studio day. An email from a gallery owner with some semi-good news about a few of my artist books: they were being considered by a collector (good) but felt to be overpriced (bad). Would I consider re-pricing? Yes. I left this exchange primed to make more books. Indeed, I’m planning a show for May and need to be working. So what did I make this morning? Cookies!

As a freelance writer and book artist, my days are created from raw ingredients of ideas, equipment, supplies, skills and experience. But I need more. I need confidence and energy. I need a sense of purpose. Why am I floundering? Could it be fear?

As an unemployed editor and staff writer, my days are created from Internet searches, LinkedIn networking, resume tweaking and follow-ups on every and all meetings. I search the area colleges for openings in faculty, administration and management. I search the businesses closest to home because I really don’t want another 20-mile commute to cubeland. I do, however, want the “safety” net of insurance, steady pay, fellow sufferers. I want the identity I used to have. I want my friends to respect me.

Maybe I need to commit, either to getting a job or to being a freelance writer and book artist. It is 1 in the afternoon. I’ve checked the forums of the freelance networks I joined. I’ve perused the articles in Suite 101, a content mill that has accepted my application to write (at a rate I was earning in 1979). I’ve made another list. I’ve called my hair stylist. I’ve felt old. I’ve read sample query letters. I’ve eaten lunch. And now I sit down to do what I do best: ponder what to do next.

I feel better. But I still have not committed.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Dangerous Book - Episode 24

Tuesday, April 23 Evening

Veronica caught me on my knees, my hands rummaging in the basil. Like most herbs, it smells best when bruised. Usually Juniper or I heard her coming, but she’d just been fitness walking in a pair of creeping sneakers and I was in a daze. The basil’s fragrance was as heady as a drug, as heady as the very fresh memory of Peter’s kisses. My lips, more bruised than the basil I brushed, were set in a permanent smile. The kind you can’t turn off. So Veronica got to think I was happy to see her, which I was. After all, we might be related some day.

“Aren’t you the sweetest thing,” she called. I assumed she was referring to the tin of cookies I’d left for her this morning. Happiness brings out the baker in me. She got some. Professor Sargeant and Phoebe got some. Even Mrs. Moth was eating sugar cookies tonight.

Sometimes I can’t bear looking at Veronica after she’s been on a power walk. She swathed her big smile in Vaseline, scrubbing her nose and forehead pink. Her hair, which was steel gray and cut in a nice little bob was squashed under a plastic hood, rain or shine.

“Be a neighbor,” she insisted. “Borrow something. Ask! Whatever you need. The boy before you borrowed the darnedest things. A telephone!” So I rose from my garden, brushing the dirt from my hands and asked to borrow a broom. She escorted me up stairs, first reaching under the radiator in our shared foyer and withdrawing a key. Why bother locking the door at all, I wondered but did not ask.

I want to say Veronica’s rooms appeared sterile because there was nothing stacked up. No projects nearing completion. Unlike Phoebe’s unit, or my own, there were very few books. A few paintings in uninspired frames seemed desolately small against the chalky white walls. Her dining room, too, was remarkably cheerless. She led me into her bedroom where I got the shock she evidently expected. Next to her bed stood a life-sized promotional cutout of Bartles and Jaymes, the screw top vintners, circa 1985. Spookily lifelike.

“Oh!” For a second thinking we were not alone.

“I didn’t have a man in my room, so one of the girls from the office gave me this!” She was vastly pleased. “Now I have two!”