Friday, November 30, 2007

J is for Just Another Guy

For Mali, on the occasion of her 365 finale

Years later, we met for dinner. Would we even recognize each other? Sfuzzi (the restaurant) was still new and still hot, tucked into Union Station’s beautiful mezzanine. Maybe it was 1990.

Our chumminess quickly resurfaced as we caught up: work, marriages, this, that.

After, I suggested a walk—maybe to the Vietnam memorial, which I’d never seen at night. Had he been there? No. He wasn’t sure he wanted to. Let’s go, I said. We can leave anytime you want.

We walked the length of the wall and back. Black granite, black sky.

He pointed to a name.

“That guy was a real asshole,” he said. “But no one deserves to die that way.”

Monday, November 26, 2007

K is for Kris

Saturday morning, after a night out to see an excellent production of The Elephant Man, Tim and I got up and headed to the Holiday Food and Gift Festival, where I was determined to complete a made-in-Vermont gift basket for someone on my list and where, we hoped, Tim could fulfill his need for a-little-somethings for his hard-working coworkers, a-little-somethings that would perhaps balance the gifts of sugar that would be heading everyone’s way, some savory-little-somethings-in-jars. I, for one, wanted that part of holiday planning to be fini so I didn’t have to think about it anymore.

But when we pulled up to the venue, we both had to pee.

“Is there a bathroom here?” Tim asked.

“There must be,” I said, and then I remembered having been to this particular one-holer before and I knew exactly where in the store it was. We headed there.

The door was closed, and we could hear someone was inside.

We waited. This little nook contained kitchen sale items, so we looked at them. We waited. We waited some more. We bounced around a little.

Should we knock? I hated to resort to that. But it did seem to be taking someone a terribly long time.

Then, we heard a strange noise. It sounded like…wind chimes. What the…? I had no recollection of there being wind chimes in that small bathroom, and really, when one thinks what wind chimes would mean in a situation like this, well, one wants to stop thinking that one is going to be the next one in that room.

Was it a kid messing around? More chimes.

I was just about to knock, thinking maybe this person has no idea anyone is out here waiting, when the door opened. And out stepped Santa Claus, donned in the requisite garb and sleigh bells.

“Ho ho ho,” he said. “Have you been good?”

Tim and I began to chuckle. “Well, we’ll be better after we get into the bathroom,” I said.

“Sorry. I forgot how long it takes to change into this thing. And I’m running late. My pipes froze this morning.” (I wonder how often Santa uses that believable excuse?)

After we’d relieved ourselves, we had a very nice conversation with him. For the record, Santa’s a great guy.

When you’re desperately waiting for a door to open, sometimes there’s no predicting who’s gonna do the opening.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

L is for List

Snow tires
Take begos1 to Paul2
Post office
Work out
Read final page proofs
Send cx to SW
Prep final-page packages and FedEx
Update museum log
Send batch 2 of workbook and invoice
Query where rest of chapters are
Answer e-mail
Go through mail
Prep recycling and trash for dump
Try to read blogs
Try to post blog
Move 40 pounds of birdseed
Feed birds
Make Thanksgiving grocery list
(Fewer than 6 weeks til Xmas)
Make lists for tomorrow

1Polish stew with sauerkraut-potato-kielbasa base
2Who had a hip replacement 8 days ago

Monday, November 5, 2007

M is for Marmoset

A marmoset perched on my shoulder
Within minutes became even bolder.
He slipped under my shirt,
Which was less of a flirt,
More of monkey-avoiding-the-colder.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

N is for No. 2 Pencil

Oh No. 2 pencil, I have fallen in love with you in my middle age—you my truest friend of childhood left abandoned for the seductive ballpoint pen, then the typewriter, then the keyboard. The permanent dent in my right middle finger never forgot you, I swear, and sometimes craved the pain of you—I pushed so hard against you back in the days.

Oh hard black HB, you so full of graphite and clay, you who come to me most often hexagonal, but sometimes round (like the marbled ones I picked up in Florence, now nearly nubs I long to replace)—it is your dark gray against my white sheet, your smooth whisper tickling my ear, your point gradually dulling that makes me sharpen you again and again.

Still, I write with keys, having been (at a tender age) lured by the quick of it, seduced by sound and volume and practicality, drawn deeply into the first thing I could do well with my hands. You, No. 2 pencil, I save for private works: the grocery list (bananas, soy milk, spinach), to-do list (work out, get mail, feed birds), my own private page proofs (no red for others’ eyes). You are short phrases and sighs, the lover in the dark stairwell. You are eagerness and immediacy, the scritch-scratch of now, now, now.