In conversation about the upcoming Episode VIII of Star Wars, Grace revealed, “Some people don’t think the recent storyline is very good.”
“What?! Which people??” I’d thought more highly of those she’d associate with.
“Just some band people. Trumpet players, but still.”
- “This went through the washer but not the dryer.”
That’s as far as I got. Everything else didn’t sound bad in the first place, or it sounded as though it could be bad, and right now I’m not really sure how it’s going to turn out in the long run. But, for now, the pencil that was left in my pocket and went through the laundry is still functional, so there’s that.
This was the celebratory callout from from the 4-year-old in row 19 as the shadow of the plane started to recede and the wheels pulled up into the hull. He emphasized fly, as though this were the most astonishing thing ever, as though this was something so magnificent—in spite of the known fact that we had all deliberately boarded a plane in order to become airborne—that it had to be celebrated.
Which of course it is.
If we were all so aware as the kid in that window seat we should have all pushed ourselves against our seat belts and cheered at the miracle. Holy Jesus we’re flying, we might exclaim, looking at each other and then back out the window, maybe lifting our feet up from the floor just to revisit the wonder of it all.
There’s no shortage of these wonders, some that even a four-year-old might take for granted. Gravity, for one. The “finger canyons” we happen to fly over a few moments later, as if some giant pressed his massive hand down into the red clay of Earth. The invisible air we’re gliding through and which holds us up, ethereal and substantial at the same time. Flood plains planed by cycles of water, mountains thrust upward, futile disdain for gravity and erosion.
And most miraculous of all, here we are to witness it, all of us together, including the child in row 19 reminding the passengers to look out the window, lift your feet, take it in.
sticky note on wall
I removed the vandal’s mark
then saw the haiku
poet, not vandal
subversion with syllables
sprinkled on small squares
my pledge: make amends
assignment next term: poems
to coat science labs
Whenever I see a young woman wearing jeans that are torn horizontally through the knees, the thighs, or above, or below, my first reaction is sympathy for this poor girl who lives her life in old worn out crumbling and cold clothing. And then I remind myself that this person most likely bought these pants at a premium, brand new with defects built into them before they were ever even tried on. That’s when I can’t help but wonder what her mother thinks. And a millisecond later I remind myself that my reaction to these slits in and shreds of pants are not about this woman who could be my daughter; and, it’s not about this woman’s mother and that maternal judgement. My reaction is really about me, and if I get over it or not is irrelevant, since tears in jeans will get replaced by another trend next year, only to come back a few more years in the future, whether I’m ready for it or not. Still, on a cold day like today, my first reaction is—still, and maybe always—sympathy for this poor girl who lives her life in old worn out crumbling and cold clothing.
Karyn asked: “Has he always been that way or is this an old-man-thing?”
The answer is critical regardless of who the question is about. There are implications that go beyond the personality of any other individual, youthful or otherwise. Because, ultimately, this is the question that we’ll all have to face. And when I say “all” I mean “me,” because such is the subject of all important questions. What part of me is going to be surly simply because that’s me to the core? Will I start questioning what others are saying and offering unsolicited advice because I think it’s time for the world to hear my 80 years of wisdom that’s piled up and aged like a fine scotch? Or, is there some perfect storm: my solitary grumpiness combined with a fermented impatience that will just become more acidic with age. Time will tell, but already I can imagine the nurse’s shadow in the hallway accompanied by the silhouettes of my daughters nodding their heads in empathy while listening to the beleaguered caretaker within the nursing home they choose for me.
It’s like anything else in this life, really. It’s not really that hard once you know how to do it, even if it’s only once a year. There’s sublime ease at first, there at the head of the table with the long tablecloth, substantial and uniform slices of white breast meat peeling easily with the graceful strokes of the long knife. The drumstick pivots easily and is removed with clever leverage and a simple maneuver of the blade. There in the presence of everyone, your children and your mother-in-law and even God herself, you serve food just as your father and his, year after year, right under your own roof.
It’s later, when dishes have been cleared away and guests are sipping at the last drips of wine and scraping pie crust that you find yourself alone in the kitchen, sweating and struggling to scrape out that most obscure piece of back meat, the piece you didn’t even know was there and wouldn’t have even mattered two hours before. Morsels that would have been relegated to the soup pot a few minutes ago are now shown a place in the tray with the sandwich slices. You dig into deeper recesses of the carcass. Some piece of gristle and fat entombing dark meat gets its place in the pot. You get less and less as your efforts are more and more, an endless pursuit to carve the last of the turkey. It’s like anything else in this life, really.
I have a strained relationship with commas. I very much like them and I use them to string phrases together and to pace a sentence. Yet, often, when I read something that at first seemed coherent and straightforward, I find that the commas I threw in are, now, like potholes in the road.
So, for example, I could have written that last sentence: Yet often when I read something that at first seemed coherent and straightforward I find that the commas I threw in are now like potholes in the road.
I returned to the backyard to see Grace sitting and hunched over out by the beehive. While I was working out front she’d been here upon her own suggestion that we wrap the hive with tar paper, a variation on our evolving strategy for how to help the colony survive the winter. I’d left her to it, armed with tools and the heavy roll of paper. And now there she was, head down, inspecting her hands intently. I’d imagined she’d been stung, or she’d cut herself. I let her be either to nurse a wound or otherwise suffer on her own.
But fifteen minutes later when I checked in, I realized it was none of these things; she was just connecting with one of the local residents.
I’m not sure that this one will see it through the winter, or even through the rest of the weekend, but Grace takes care, pays attention, and makes the connection. Hers is a good lead to follow.
I have a piece of software called Focus, and as the name suggests it does the job of helping me to keep my focus on tasks. It keeps track of those tasks and sets timers to continue to work on these, singularly, in a focused fashion. It’s a little like having a little old lady, slightly hunched but sternly focused on me, knuckles bulged around a ruler that raps your skull to help keep that focus. Also, it plays a soothing gong sound at the end of each 25-minute interval.
Anyway, Focus got an update the other day. It’s good to have your software applications update so that perfectly functional software can become more functional. It updated and it looks nice. Some corners are rounded and I appreciate the subdued shade of blue. But the application window was strangely sparse. In the updating, it thoughtfully dropped the list of tasks I was to focus on, dropping them into a pit somewhere in another universe. This, apparently, was the improvement in the update.
And there’s a new font.
So, I lost my focus. And I deleted Focus. It may be just as well.
As I walk into class, a student remarks to me and others in earshot: “You’re wearing normal clothes today.”
I’m not sure what to make of this, nor what abnormal clothes might be.
In my pocket I had a handful of coins, including a particularly worn dime. Eisenhower looked more faded, recessed back into the ore, and the glean had long faded. Old coins intrigue me. I was surprised by the date: 2006.
At least, I think it said 2006. It’s hard to say with the etchings’ rounded contours. Maybe, actually, 2008. I brought it up closer to my eyes, but it was too close to focus. I pulled it farther from my head, where it was too small to make out. I squinted. Could be 2005. But I’m pretty certain it’s 2008. Or 2006.
I found some more light, brought the dime up closer and then farther away again. This is when I realized that this coin of only 10 years — or more, or less, it’s hard to say — was not the most worn thing in this interaction.