Oddments

In search of story


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May 27.21: Coping

EXITS

High school.

Do the words send you running? Or do you wistfully look back and linger?

I am not a reunion person. I go back only in my head, where I can be mid-century instantly, without having to see my senior picture again.

Those were manically formative years; our senior selves bore little resemblance to our freshman selves. Perhaps no other life storm, except a newborn, telescopes so much change into a short time.

My high school was built in 1914. My mother had walked those halls before me. Only the students changed. Then came 1967, the fire and renovations, and everything changed. So it’s a good thing I’ve kept the old school in my head, where time hasn’t touched it.

The main staircase — all three stories of it — was my favorite part. Each stair was worn in two places, where feet went up and where feet went down. Saddle shoes, penny loafers, all stepping to the bells.

This is that staircase, these the main doors. There would come a last opening outward and I couldn’t wait. I was so done with homework! And then, to my astonishment, I cried. At the last concert, the band president presented the traditional senior farewell gift to our saintly director, as I stood off-stage behind the curtains. And suddenly I sobbed. I was totally unprepared for that. To paraphrase a contemporary philosopher: What? Me miss high school?

But dust to dust, yes, dear reader? The building is about to become a parking lot for the educational Acropolis rising next to it.

My old classmate Ann says it was a dump when we were there, but I loved its oldness. Dark wood. Room numbers painted on transoms. Tall windows. Wood desks that never heard of ergonomics.

I find myself clutching certain memories more tightly because memories do reside in things. When the things are gone, will the memories also be gone? While walls stand, a little part of us can say it’s not over. It’s a nice deception. And then it’s a parking lot.

 

With thanks to photographer and classmate Art Lindeman.

Submitted to Dan Antion’s Thursday Doors Writing Challenge.

 

 


8 Comments

May 9.21: Coping

The world’s a big place,

it can tucker you out

when you’re trying to figure

what it’s about.

That doesn’t change much

as we age through the years,

those grass blades of life

still up to our ears.

We still need a wing

for safe featherbed,

but sometimes we rest

on a memory instead.

 

I’m not a big fan of Mothers’ Day, dear reader. However, I am a fan of mothering because mothering gets us started in life.

There are many who are not biological mothers but are mothers nonetheless. I salute every one, and I wish a happy day to all who mother.

On a more (typical) curmudgeonly note: you know, dear reader, I hate these geese; I do not thrill to see another generation. It is only with pained reluctance I am forced to say this snoozing fuzzball is maybe a little bit cute.

 

 

 


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May 4.21: Coping

Kirk had it wrong;

that Final Frontier

isn’t some star —

it’s much more near.

It’s when you decide

you’re going to paint

and are sharply reminded

that young you ain’t.

This job designed

by Beelzebub

requires my head

between toilet and tub.

I used to could bend —

that’s historical fact —

but now I can’t seem

to be so compact.

My hips both object,

my knees ping and crack,

that creaking sound

is my lower back.

This be my swan song,

I won’t try this again;

I’ll adjust my horizons

to more accommodable yen.

I’ll hope to complete

and finish it nicely,

then I’ll turn in my brush

and hang out at Mos Eisley.

 

 

May the 4th be with you, dear reader!

And, yes, I’ve mixed Star Wars with Star Trek. Maybe poetic license is the REAL final frontier. I should have thrown in a Captain Video secret decoder ring.

 

 


12 Comments

April 28.21: Coping

The frizble connects to the whatnot,

the whozzis fits under the thing,

don’t ever mistake the doohickey

for the updated technomajing.

Thus is this whatchamacallit

in aperture, appendage, and bloat

an eloquent manifestation

of gibberish with which I am smote.

It’s the shape of my grandchildren’s planet,

a world they inhabit with ease,

conversing in hieroglyphed newspeak,

fluent in emojieese.

Their view of the world is brand new,

just the way that it really should be;

I grudgingly grant I am miffed

that it gets along fine without me.

 

 

More thanks to photographer S.W. Berg.

 

 


7 Comments

February 28.21: Coping

Sameness.

Lines that dwindle

in a finite distance

but return, yawning,

retreat again,

pulling walls with them.

The boomerang of the hour

just spent,

but back again,

to be lived again.

The thread unraveling,

longer each day,

hapless,

dragged through life’s leavings.

Eyes numb,

ears empty but for sounds of

the breathing self,

chewing,

the scraping of a plate.

World goal:

to live without touching.

We are safe from COVID —

hooray.

 

More thanks to photographer S.W. Berg.

 


4 Comments

February 22.21: Coping

 

Today, dear reader, is George Washington’s birthday. It makes me think of old friendships. No, I didn’t know George.

There are four of us — Ann, Donna, Bill and I — who have our birthdays in consecutive months starting in November and ending today. I have declared — and therefore it is so — that we don’t turn the next age until the last one does. That would be Bill, the intrepid photographer. We don’t turn until he does, and then we all turn together. There is no way he gets to be the youngest.

Ann and I went to kindergarten, grade school, high school together, and ended up in the same college sorority. Bill and Donna and I have a friendship forged in homeroom and in the high school parking lot at 3:00AM as we gathered for “away meets” for speech and debate. The four of us grew up together. I am beyond grateful that we are growing old together.

So today I think about ancient friendships. Although we often make wonderful friends along life’s way, sometimes we are lucky enough to have friends who knew our parents, who knew the homes we grew up in. I marvel at this often, but particularly on February 22.

I lift a celebratory mug of coffee in salute to ancient friendships, and I wish them for you, dear reader.

 

More thanks to photographer S.W. Berg,

and to Mama Rosa’s, Hampton, VA.


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February 18.21: Coping

One of these is my muse, dear reader. Standing stodgily and stupidly on the frozen pond. Hanging out with someone else’s muse, no doubt, both determined to be useless.

So, uninspired, I will write about what is.

Snow and more snow. Cold and more cold. A world in pandemic, a country in turmoil, and, at the moment, with millions battered by the weather with no power, and some without running water.

Monday the winter storms barreled into Indiana. In my best swaddled shmoo look, I shoveled the first wave of snow, which was fluffy and light, and, having congratulated myself on that, I decided to start the car and let it run a few minutes. I was walking in the garage when one of my booted left feet found something to slip on and went its own way. I grabbed the car and went down in one of those memorable slow-motion falls. It was not a serious fall. Except. Except that my cheekbone hit the rim of a plastic flowerpot. The crack heard ’round the world.

This in a monster winter storm. I was scared.

My son was able to get me to Urgent Care the next day. Nothing is broken, but if you are picturing an old lady with half her face the color and shape of an eggplant, you’d be close.  An occasional Tylenol is in order.

The past twelve months have taken a toll on us all. We’d be foolish to understate that. Everything that happens to us right now hits hard and cuts deep. We all wish our muses would bring us magic words to make things better for each other. Failing that, we can only write about being human.

 

 

 

 


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January 30.21: Coping

Grandma’s kitchen clock

ticked crisply like a snare drum,

by day blended in the rhythm of work,

by night echoed

through the bedded house

while the rite of springs squeaked under me,

percussive, brassy,

objecting, it seemed,

to my child’s weight.

A bare light bulb

dangling on thick black cord

hovered

over the bed,

beyond my reach

even when I stood

jiggle-kneed

on the jello mattress.

Grandma reached up

and turned it off herself,

then slipper-padded out.

Her bedroom a whole dining room

and kitchen away,

sly-eyed shadows deepened

around me

in borrowed bed

where once my aunts were little girls.

In the sleep breath of her house,

Ivory soap.

Now, as COVID blurs days into nights,

and nights into days,

my clock ticks crisply like a snare drum.

 

 


9 Comments

January 26.21: Coping

As you know, dear reader, I am an introvert. I love quiet. Forever the firstborn, I play by myself contentedly.

However, I do not crave a hut in the desert or a cave hidden by vines. Which is what this COVID thing is beginning to feel like.  After a while, even an introvert feels the tedium of her own company. Then a terrible thing happens: she eats. Why is it that eating is the antidote to tedium? While I ponder the answer to that, I eat some more.

Yesterday I caught myself headed to the kitchen again and gave myself a stern talking-to, made a right turn and headed upstairs, where I plunged into no one’s favorite project: culling the past.

I come from a scrapbooking family, and I followed that tradition, starting in grade school. I am not talking about those tidy, starched, color-coordinated Martha-Stewart types of scrapbooks, but the old-fashioned kind, with real scraps, bits of life as it was lived. Messy, haphazard, in a rag-tag glued chronology. Just like life.

I attacked the scrapbook that held the years from college graduation to marriage, 1966 to 1971. There were strangers in there, but the strangest one of all was me. Have you met your young self recently, dear reader? Did you recognize each other?

If you are now your young self, just file the matter for future reference, when your seasoned self happens upon you. And may you meet in a kinder time.