Monday, June 10, 2013

field notes

I’m sitting at the pharmacy waiting to pick up some medicine for my brother. An old woman with a white ponytail in a bright coral sweater and pants sits down next to me and exclaims, “Oh, it’s nice in here!” I look over at her and she elaborates to no one in particular, “I thought it was so dim but then I took off my sunglasses and now it’s really nice!” The handsome young pharmacist calls out a sing-song “Hi, Roseanne,” and she sighs and says, “You people know me here. It’s so nice. You won’t let me die!” He laughs and assures her, "We’ll always give you your medication.” Then Roseanne gets up and has a bit of a one-sided tête-à-tête with him. (Her tête is all the way in the game, he’s phoning it in a little by necessity.) I want to sneak up close and hear every word because I’m clearly missing good stuff. Some poor girl she knows isn’t having much sex with her husband, I pick up that much, and “It really is a shame”, and then Roseanne says, “I was lucky. I had a fantastic guy. I was worried that he wouldn’t want me because I couldn’t have kids, but I told him that, and well, he married me anyway. And guess what? We were so busy running around that we never got around to it! And now he’s dead. Why did he die? Why did he have to die?” You have to understand that Roseanne’s sunshine wasn’t dimmed when she was asking this; she was just plain wondering, like maybe the pharmacist had the inside line on death in general.


I wander outside in the early evening, under the tall rhododendrons. As soon as I get up close, I see it. There’s no other way to put this; the bees are fucking those flowers so hard it’s startling. And it’s everywhere. Every single purple-pink bloom gets hit by a sex-drunk bee overtaken by the spirit of Prince, going for broke. Showy, unselfconscious thrusting. Bees may be struggling the world over, but not now, not in my yard. Pure triumph.


Driving home from the grocery store, I see a crow flapping frantically, taking off into the air from the sidewalk. In his mouth is a huge hunk of Dick’s Deluxe cheeseburger, still halfway in its orange foil wrapper. GOT IT NOW MOVE MOVE MOVE!  


It’s the first time Dave and the kids and I have gone to the beach since I got sick and got better: something I fantasized about so often, something that seemed so out of reach for a while there. And now it’s right in front of me. We never end up at Golden Gardens when the temperature’s exactly right - we end up sweaty and burned or windblown and chilled - but this time the weather is spot on and stays there. We go on the spur of the moment so we have no beach supplies or spare clothes for the boys. Fred is wearing black jeans that get heavier and heavier as the water line travels up his legs, and his pants descend inch by inch under the weight. 

We walk all the way to the end of the beach, which we've never done before, but we're lingering extra long today. What have we been thinking? The far end of Golden Gardens is the money stretch. The shore turns from rocks to soft, unspoiled dark sand, a little tree-rimmed cove away from the crowd. Finn writes our names in the sand with a stick. MOMY. DADY. FRED. FINN. A turtle is spotted and stalked for a while, a group of ducklings shrieked at and chased. 

The afternoon is getting ready to tip into evening so we make for the car, walking along a grassy field scattered with constellations of daisies. Past the field is the playground, where Dave gives the boys a last hurrah, but at the end of the field fifty or so people are gathered on folding chairs, and a couple of guys in gray suits are shuffling in their spots at the front of a blue glass installation/backdrop. A young blonde woman stands ready to officiate. I’ve been up to my neck in contentment all afternoon, and now there’s going to be a wedding? That’s it. I invite myself, and sit on a rock at a discreet distance and watch. The guests are smiling and craning around in their chairs to chat, looking stylish. The light is deep sideways and golden by now, the air is that perfect temperature that’s barely noticeable on the skin and I'm just about in heaven. Then the opening notes of “Come On, Eileen” ring out over the field and I'm knocked all the way in. We're starting. The groom and his parents take their places. The world’s smallest functional ringbearer - who apparently just learned to walk that very morning - is aimed down the aisle in his tiny dark suit. Will he make it? Is he a strike or a gutterball? Let’s watch...he’s a strike! Everybody claps and cheers. Then the music switches to that Hawaiian version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” (which I usually can’t get with but today I’m all benevolence) and the bride appears at the edge of the field. She makes her way to her groom treading over those little daisy patches and I'm done for. The tears come. The beach gave it up for me hard today. I’m drenched in luxury.     


It’s almost night-time. Fred’s been given a plate of dinner that he objects to. We’ve all moved on to other things, and then Fred storms into the room where Dave and I are hanging out and watching tv. He informs us with maximum grumpiness in his baby voice, “I’M NOT GOING TO EAT MY DINNER. I’M JUST GOING TO EAT THE CHIPS. BON VOYAGE, LOSERS,” and he stomps away. We wait until he’s out of earshot and then laugh until we’re crying, we’re dying, we’re dead.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

where i've been

I'm just going to jump in as though we're mid-conversation.

 Last August, I got sick. And I finally got better, oh, a little less than a month ago. Truly better, up-and-around, drive-a-car, live-life-normally better just within the last couple of weeks, although I'm still in the process of rebuilding strength. 

We don't know what caused it, but it was brutal, and it morphed every month or so into a new form. There was the month where I was coughing, the month where I could barely breathe, the month where I was so weak I could scarcely talk or lift a utensil, the month where all my lymph nodes were swollen and I couldn't get comfortable in any position, the month where I was nauseated and couldn't eat, lost 15 pounds in three weeks, and eventually couldn't even get fluids in. And then I was in the hospital and then I got better. 

I'm shortcutting this extremely because I don't really want to describe it much more, not right now. It's done. I survived it. And it was so significant, so gigantic, and so recent that I don't have a handle on it yet. I'll be unpacking it for a long time to come. There was no way for me to come here and pick up blogging again, though, without saying it. If you've been whisked off your normal planet, dumped on some hell world for a few months and then returned home without explanation, you mention it.  

What a superb time to be reborn, though, spring. I'm exhausted, existentially, but I'm also drunk on physical existence. Luscious world! Drunk on my family, my children (the boys! withheld from me for so long! they're not getting described in parentheses, forget it), drunk on the outdoors. The sky! After months of ceiling, the sky is dizzying. Today, the sky was showing off in one of my favorite ways. A mixed-up sky, not quite overcast, with massive clouds, some dark and heavy, some tall and white and stacked up like cotton castles, with pocket-y vistas of pure blue, like advertisements for some far-off vacation destination. A huge, busy sky.  

I feel a little like a post-tornado Dorothy, dropped astonished into this technicolor world. Except Dorothy didn't want to stay, and I do. And I'm not the same as I was before, I know that much. The results aren't all in yet, but I've been shoved into my body and shoved onto this planet in a way I never was before. I want to stick my fists into the soil, plant things, sleep on the grass. Whatever ideas I had about God, the divine, whatever you want to call it, they've abandoned my brain. No more abstractions. I don't want them. I'm not interested. I just want this, and this, and this. I don't want to believe anything. If there's anything I need to know, it can meet me here.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

j. crew emergency teams and procedures

As you will see, Team/Color Names have been updated to reflect current trends. However, the actual colors have not changed, so please refer to the swatch you were given at Orientation to find your team. In case of emergency, Team Leaders will put on a lanyard with the Team Color Swatch, so that you can find your leader and move smoothly into action.

Team Aubergine
Aubergine is in charge of First Aid/CPR.  Remember to treat J.Crew cardholders first, in order of accumulated Rewards points.  If the customer doesn’t have his/her Rewards card, you can look it up in the computer. If the computer is down (or destroyed), then treat according to severity of injury. 

Team Dusky Eggplant
Dusky Egglant will shut off the gas main, if necessary. If the gas main doesn’t require shut-off, Dusky Eggplant will add customers to the mailing list.

Team Roasted Eggplant
Roasted Eggplant will monitor and comfort children that have been separated from their parents.

Team Grape
If the store collapses, Grape is in charge of beating out morse code in the wreckage to alert emergency teams to the number and location of survivors.

Team Old Grape
Old Grape replaces any greeters who are on Team Aubergine that are actively involved in the distribution of first aid.

Team Cabernet Grape
Cabernet Grape distributes oxygen masks, if necessary. 

Team Prune
Prune determines whether oxygen masks are necessary.

Team Winter Plum
Winter Plum communicates with/guides our deaf customers to safety.

Team Blackberry
Blackberry is a floating group that provides verbal encouragement to struggling teams.

Team Blackest Plum
Blackest Plum ensures our staff retains their professional look. Duties include neatening hair, removing lint/dust/bloodstains (club soda is in fridge in staff room), “zhuzhing” sleeves.

Team Dark Violet 
Monitors and keeps ample supply of club soda in staff room. Dark Violet should know the location of several area supermarkets/mini-marts, in case supply needs to be replaced mid-crisis and the closest supermarkets are collapsed. Starbucks also has some sort of bubbly water for their Italian sodas. There are two Starbucks in the mall, but their bubbly water is pricey, so avoid if possible.

Team Smoked Violet
Smoked Violet should be able to look at the emergency food supplies in the staff room and come up with 10-12 appetizing recipes for whatever’s on hand. It’s recommended that Smoked Violet spend a couple of minutes of every break just looking at the supplies and mentally combining flavor profiles.  Don’t be afraid of unorthodox pairings. Let the muse run free!

Team Cool Smoked Violet
Cool Smoked Violet will function as sous-chef to Smoked Violet.

Team Joni Mitchell Plum
If devastation is severe, Joni Mitchell Plum can automatically reduce all of the rhinestone hair accessories (ponytail holders, headbands) to clearance, so our inventory will reflect the somber mood of the times as quickly as possible.  

I originally wrote this piece for the online humor journal "Mattress Police", but that baby's gone. So it can live here now.