Winter is a worm that burrows in and hatches eggs of disconsolation behind the tongue. The tiny eggs ride an escalator of blood the short ride into the brain and slumber there in the warm mash. I suspect the eggs are actually laid in the autumn amidst the beguiling colors of change and coming sleep; the vibrant October entrance of the long dreaming masks the imminent disquietude of their hatch. The Leaf People are about; trouble is in the air like faintly pungent smoke.
Just now it is January and they begin to bloom out, triggered by the solstice, the cyclic finger-pull that one-long-night. When you think you are safe, the days growing in light, come forth the worms of winter as small white wrigglers set to roam the neural corridors and fret nerve endings into gelid submission. This is the active season of their life cycle. They are feeding.
I take worm medicine. I take the patented worm medicine Prozac, and around the new year is when I double my dose and hunt thru the days for energy in the undergrowth. The hunt is languid. I am the undergrowth, and what I am under is water. Underwater is a numbish place where things that need to be done don't weigh as much as they did in the other world. I trust that the other world will come steaming back with the equinox, like the dead god springing out from the cave with robes flapping, full of grand intentions. The rock rolls from the black mouth as the sun inclines. Speech is loosed.
Yesterday was a case study in the good fight. I took a triple dose of my thyroid meds - quite by accident from an old bottle, and then hit Fivebuxs for a Grande Mocha. Edgily hypomanic I verbally assaulted family members thru the day, just so greedily full of myself. I like the feeling. It beats the hell out of conning the good ship Don thru the still depths in search of life. But it is hard on those around me. My energy, though it feels, to me, only mildly ebullient, grates. We all 3 end up in the kitchen raising our voices in point and counterpoint, claim and disclaim. But we do laugh a lot. It is a good day when you laugh a lot and don't get too serious about the threads from which conversation swings. Words are twitchy monkeys in the canopy, likely to drop with inopportune excrescence.
Today I sat in my great chair in the office - it is large and leather and worn to my butt like a kid's glove to the ball, and as I sank down it became the bottom of a musty closet, me on the rank floor amongst the unwashed gym clothes and old sneakers, fitting well. My chair, the time and place machine.
I didn't really feel bad, just betwixt and between and all unseen. I had something to write, about being in there in the stuffy small space. The computer was only a few feet away, almost reachable, the motion to commit to paper my internal transcription so easy to initiate, and I had no energy for it. I wrote letters to myself from the bottom of the closet, and now I can't recall what they said. They were wonderful letters that are now gone like dreams so fresh when first awake and more lost with every breath until only a wisp of a trail tantalizes. I don't mourn for them. I don't quite know where they came from, nor where they go. They are like breath.
Imagine trying to track all the atoms of each single exhalation you make. Soon the entire world is just a light mist of you and everyone else, all mixed. We are cake batter, or cookie dough, waiting to be baked and eaten. We are indistinguishable.
A thing can be written true and right and later viewing may reveal it to be self-absorbed and mildly hysterical. (The editor groans with pleasure; 'how true' she says, glancing up at the preceding seven paragraphs.) But it was right when first written. The life cannot be taken from it later just because some new sensibility prevails.
I look at what I write and wonder why I have to be both these people: transported author and abashed critic. Looking with an entirely passionless calculation I see what it is that death may offer over life: in death we are finally perfectly simple. Perfectly simple is the obvious adjunct to roiling, boiling imagination let loose.
Then I imagine that death is like that quiet place we long to go in the midst of turmoil; when we get there we soon tire of it and miss the struggle and hubub. A few deep breaths should be quite enough, we tell ourselves standing at the corner of Calme and Tranquilo - this is a foreign land with italicized names, even on the avenues, this peaceful place.
The good fight is too much fun. Simple will happen regardless. With a wave of the pen we head home. This writing, it is also worm medicine. A homeopathic cure with an uncertain chemistry about it. No patent pending; everyone welcome to mix up their own batch.
Revisions and revisions later the editor approves the above, but plunges a knife into my heart and twists it with a last comment: 'you've been reading a lot of Dylan Thomas...'
'It's me!' I want to cry, 'all me.' But I am not sure. D.T. as insidious infection? The author-in-Maine as spiritual plagiarist? If it is not safe to read, what are we to do? You should be thankful I haven't been reading James Joyce.
Pat responds with her own take on winter in form of a sonnet. (Be she a classic beauty, or of round-faced peasant stock, rich or dirt poor, as agile as an Olmpic gymnast or clunky as a tired old plough horse - go for the woman with wit and mental grace when you look for a companion; a sense of humor is essential, and bent is best.)
Winter is the Revelator. Snow
Deceives us with her silver smirk;
Behind her back she holds a tidy dirk
For peeling eyes, for piercing, making flow
To earth the liquor of our hoarded knowing.
The flash of scarlet in a pewter dawn,
So quick and then so absolutely gone,
Leaves leafless oak like naked Adam showing
All it is or ever was to be.
That blur of mist dissolves both Me and Us.
Bundled atoms slip from raveled jess
And soar and tumble home to entropy.
Cleansed free of wreaths and gaud and scars,
We’ll mix with cold that reaches to the stars.
Pat got a line on a new cafe. I'm a breakfast guy, and I like my greasy spoon joints. Around noon on a Sunday is the apex of my food week. The one we go to now is as good as it gets. Give me cornbeef hash, eggs o.e. and home fries any time; keep your fancy dinner places with the artistic presentation and designer wines - one red with the t-bone, another with the n.y. cut, and good lord but you better have the right white with your scallops au muff-muff. Heavy plates, heavy mugs and the smell of grease in the air as you come across the parking lot stamping the snow off your boots.
What I like best, next to really good biscuits and gravy, is your mid-age, or approaching, hash house waitress. She's seen a Truckstop or two. She is overworked. Her feet are killing her. He boyfriend is a complete sod. Life is a shambles. And she walks up to your table grinning, slaps down two possibly fly-stained menus and says 'coffee'. It isn't even a question.
The place I like to eat has great waitresses. I was telling one that I had been raised by a waitress and appreciated the hell out of good one, which she was. Just something common and straightforward in her demeanor, ready to laugh loudly, no coy 'Hi! My name is Brittany (like the silly-bitch spaniel), and I'll be your server.' Oh, Brit, I think, go cut your throat and get it over with. And a good waitress never says 'awesome!'
So, I am telling her I was rasied by a waitress, and myself and both my kids have waited table. I was getting into it. Pat looks up and asks 'So does this mean you two are engaged?' The waitress looks at her: 'Shouldn't he at least take me out to dinner - or something, first?' What would I do without women?
The new place we tried has better food, and we will probably go back there, but I wish I could bring my own waitress.
A blog I read, Sudden Debt, is penned by a bright and lucid guy who only posts now and then. The last paragraph of his most recent entry struck a chord with me:
"...we should renounce what cannot be modified, modify what can be improved and invent anew what cannot be improved."
His words have the sheen of TwelveStepism to them. Maybe that will be the theme of the coming third party, the one that the disenfranchised will wield as a tool to change our national priorities. The disenfranchised includes everybody who makes under 6 figures and supports others; I think that might be all of us here. A problem with the 12 Step approach is the 'higher power' part, where you turn it all over and admit you are essentially without a clue. If the higher power turns out to be a diety we have a problem, at least in my mind, as the powerful fantasies in men's minds start to deal arbitrary and irrevocable cards; the game gets rigged by faith-mongers. My own choice for a higher power might be a Chinese Solar Panel.
Speaking of faith I saw, by way of Lady Mondegren's eyes, an interesting bumper sticker that seems fit for our times: Love, Faith & Hype.
Another guy I love to read is James Howard Kunstler. He is a bit apocalyptic, but I think not without cause and hope sincerely he is simply misguided: he sees armed proles on the pavement and blood in the gutters before this is over. Once you get over his rather gloomy expectations on the social front you find that the beast he rides is humor. A lot of bloggers on the contrarian side are insightful and bright and write well, but it is the humor that stands out. He puts out a new commentary every Monday.
This all seems to be getting longish so I should maybe post it. No one contacts us on the 'farm' idea and I let it drift to a back burner. Not the sort of thing to rush. People, I know about them, will want to garden in November when produce stocks are thin and money even thinner. Diana Ross and the Supremes said it: You can't hurry love.
All the creatures of this neck of the woods send greetings and best wishes. don and pat, et al.