Z is off to the left coast for 10 days of parties leading up to -what else? - a grand wedding-party in Texas. Her life is a mystery to me; things like the costs of eyelash vitamins and cashmere garments leave me spinning. Boxes arrive from purveyors almost daily, the end-of-the-year-and-beyond sales are fabulous, and clothes, shoes especially, are tried on and then sent back. Great for UPS, but how can the retail industry exist on such a footing - another bad pun tallied... Fortunately, for her creditors, though she was furloughed (for X* amount of time) the first of January she was subsequently taken back for February; her claim for January unemployment probably won't even hit someone's desk for a few months - how do they handle that? The bureaucrats, I mean. Paychecks that skip like stones on a pond. God, in this case, is the shifting landscape of government contracts, I.e. where do we need troops on the ground next month? A just-in-time supply of combat-ready lads. I can see the armaments and appurtenances of war coming out the doors of the manufacturing plants just as the newly-trained recruits are marched by at brisk pace, the two combining with a synchronicity of great logistical beauty. The nuances of Empire are both murky and manifold. (* X means unspecified so that the workers all have to quickly get scripts for benzodiazipines before their health insurance expires in order that they might go crazy with some grace. Nothing burns the soul like endless waiting.)
On what future day do we all, retirees are exempt so long as cat food and sheet plastic are cheap and shopping carts available, stand with the Mexicans in front of Home Depot and look for signs of work on the faces of slowly passing, sternly appraising, motorists? 'Hey, senor, am I not just in time?'
I think jobs are getting a lot like just-in-time shipments, which means your local grocery store only actually has enough food for three days sales and heaven help us all if something in the chain breaks. (Katrina is an historical event, no longer a warning.) Employers seem to want employees in much the same manner. We might need you this week, says the boss, but next week stay home, eat waffles for dinner, and mind your pennies.
Arrivals and departures had one other notable event this last week. Coming in at low altitude about ten days early was Miguel Gio(vanni?) Anthony Gutierrez. No need to be specific on the date; that he arrived and was welcomed by all is the main thrust here. There was no thrust in the travail as a C-section transpired with some alacrity. I hear that more and more babies are delivered thus, to the sound of steel on whetstones sliding slick with oil, and I wonder why. I seem to recall that not too far back a 24, or even 36, hour labor was not unheard of, and now just a couple hours into dilation and out come the masks and knives. I am just guessing, but I wonder if the all-inclusive profit motive has a part in this? How much more lucrative would it be for a hospital to reduce the number of nursing and doctoring hours paid out in staff salary necessary to equal 'one-baby'... and then, on top of that - cherry on the sundae, to introduce a fairly expensive surgical routine into the process, the price of which can no doubt be nicely multiplied in the billing process? I am sure 'safety of mother and child' is a cherished refrain in the admin offices. A wink and a grin and file that claim. (The editor adds that cutting up moms must do wonders for cutting down litigation.)
At any rate little Gio has arrived, from within the formerly unused or abused womb of one of my wife's grandchildren, and has a full and exciting life to look forward to. (Name of the mother is withheld as she is not legally a person until March, unless being a mother gives you your majority. And then there is high school to finish...)
That Gio would be welcome was not always a given. A seventeen year old who doesn't have enough sense not to get preggy when doing field studies in Procreation 101 - the bonehead version for sure, is not always immediately applauded by the family. We - I consider myself loosely connected to the entire drama as I do like and care about the kid/mom, went the standard arc from "OMG!!! WTF!!!" on first announcement to "isn't he a (squalling) doll??" many months later. We, my wife's side of the we, have a growing assortment of ethnic connections in our new world look: added to the Samoan and Filipino sides of the family we now have an approximately 1/8 Black, 1/4 Mexican, and the rest stock that fled the potato famine and whatever other assorted catastrophes caused the peoples of Europe to slip slide across continents and seas in mass escape, to add to the family. Welcome, Gio!! We will all wander into the mochatone-future together hopeful that it will be a less hateful place than this one. Sarky, me? Don't listen to me, Gio, cynical babies are anathema to their mommies. (I call him Gio as I 'felt' guaranteed his primary name would be Giovanni. His dad, Miguel, obviously had some heft here. I will probably, rather perversely, always call him Gio; it has sort of a Renaissance touch that we all need.)
On the departures side we also add 'the editor', for she flies off west on Monday to oversee the extension of her own mitochondrial DNA into a perturbed world. She will monitor all of little Gio's activities until finally told by the mom to go below decks and chill. Of course, Gio's uncle, 2 year old Baby Jack will be in-house to console her. Or maybe the new mom will realize the gift and find herself just too tired to change diapers and blowdry the baby-butt. "Show me how you do that just one more time, grandma," pleads the freckle-faced innocent. Gio and mom - daddy Miguel may even get an invite though he is not quite welcome yet, will get the editor for almost a month, then home she comes. (A month of grilled cheese sandwiches cooked in bacon grease laced with garlic - such will be my life. Does that call for red wine or white? I revel in the discord!)
The Tacoma house closed on the tenth and is being looked after by the realtor. I have slowly given ground on insisting I can move us 3000 miles meownself in a beeg truck to seeking estimates from younger men with broader backs and better knees who drive for dollars. We pack and pack. A pallet of boxes of books sits in the garage. In our thinning the Goodwill has gotten some mighty nice tomes. I could regret that they will sell for $1 each, but it is easier to rejoice that those who find these books will get great deals. The kitchen has been culled; dozens of cookbooks we had to have at one time will remain in Maine, as will many a pot and pan that was once essential. My own worry is the tools, the machines. How much stuff can I actually take?
A guy comes Wednesday next to estimate the extent of my madness; he has trucks and young men at his beck and call; they will travel sea to shining sea for a fee. The current plan is to get Pat, Rose, Shay and Rocky to Tacoma with almost everything we own, get set up, and I will return here for a month or more in the empty house cleaning and arranging. Z has contracted to drive x country in Snooky motorhome with Rocky. That is a big help. By summer we should all be there together to catch that one day of unadulterated sunshine that occurs each and every year. I do note that it will be -10f here on Monday night and about 45 in Tacoma. I am also pleased that the plus 8% state income tax of Maine will disappear without any residual left coast effects. That will actually come close to offsetting our fixed costs for holding this place. What a deal!
Pat has flown off, missing her connection in Detroit and earning a free meal chit if she will but abide in patience until the alternate flight to Pocatello takes off at midnight - kidding!
I have little else to say. Just had a plate of frijoles and eggs on toast and will watch a movie now. Tomorrow some serious packing begins. don and the dogs + rocky and fowl. (The editor vetted an earlier version of this, and if I have changed too much she will have long forgotten her disappointments by the time she comes home.)
It is evening. I am tired. It's not that I have done a lot - packed a few boxes of tools in the basement, where I was hesitating to tread. Small boxes, for tools are heavy, dense; they are like black holes in the hand, the possibility of life bursting from their bowels theoretically imminent, but not likely for me. I arrive on the creative scene sporting ill-drilled holes and mis-sawn boards. I have meant well, and I enjoy myself, but my brain is not really in touch with my hands. Never was. Not the quick shortstop or the gracile downhill racer. It is to my mind that I retreat for wonder. My hands are best left in the lap, and around the glass of plonk.
There is the front of my mind, where I live, and the back, a door into which I find ajar and visit infrequently, but with an ache of gratitude when it swings to. I was there a while ago; a slippery language is spoken there. I had lines and lines of revelation - the odor lingers like smoke in the room, but I came to the keyboard too late. The magic made me late. Now disconnected phrases, images, vague contentment all linger. They are a puzzle without solution. Pieces consigned to fit 17 games, 33 riddles and places where the pegs are neither round nor square and the holes distant. I can only write that something was there; something other. And it has drifted by.
Other isn't something we want to indulge in too deeply. Take a hit and let it go. I picture the floating man on his side, the opium pipe near his flaccid hand and slack mouth; his eyes are open and see nothing that can be shared. The back door of the mind is like this, too. Not a lot of value in the everyday. The edge of a dream. We are tantalized and smile.
Nabucco is playing. If you don't care for the pulse of the opera I am sorry. I am looking into the backdoor of Verdi's brain; it is majestic. How did he get this stuff out thru the door and into the light? What we lose is as important as what we save; creation cannot be judged only by what sees the light of day. As well we skirt the edges of greatness when we enter the fog and return blank, almost blank, but cognizant of the other inside of us. We are each of us a universe entire, and too few know it.