Saturday, February 23, 2013

Noon Poem

I force myself to discard
Paper dinner napkins.
Conservation can be taken too far.
Long ago a boyfriend saved his glass at lunchtime,
Set it daily on the kitchen window sill, still
Half full of water.
The sun on its rounds didn’t miss a thing,
Lighting up the dull spot
Where his lips, greasy with peanut butter,
Had kissed the rim.   

It’s funny where our minds go sometimes. I haven’t written a poem in more years than I can say. My brother is always writing them. Joe begins every blog with a new poem.
Actually, I was trying to get out of writing when I turned off the light in my office, minimized my computer screen, and escaped to the simple task of fixing a sandwich.
I have a long to-do list. When you work at home, the hours blur. Your duties blur. Freedom blurs with responsibility. You think: Should I do this, or that? Put my nose to the grindstone, or do nothing? Get busy, or grab some “me” time? It’s easy to question everything and far easier to go downstairs, make a sandwich, and linger over it.
Just as I was getting up from the table, the poem popped into my mind. It’s part of a whole story I might tell one day.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Dawn of the Dressed

All right, people, I’m ready for you. If you rang the doorbell right now, I would not be forced to peek around the edge of the closed blind at you or pretend I’m not home. If you had come yesterday or the day before, it would have been a different story.
Today I’m presentable, on purpose, after two days of living in sweats and bedroom slippers, working without makeup, fluffing my flat “hair-don’t” in vain, and hoping I would not have to see another human being. I did open the door for the Culligan man, but when you need five bags of salt for the water softener, you don’t put it off.
My last two days were spent reviewing typeset proofs for Mr. Joe, the memoir my brother and I wrote together. We were given only a few days to turn the material around, and the compulsive personality latches right onto that. I finished my review/edit in one long day. Then, that evening, I started nagging Joe to finish his. Yes, I know: annoying.
The book file was in .pdf format, readable with Adobe Reader. I had saved mine many times as I made my comments. On the second morning, my cleaner program wanted to check my computer for malware, which involves a reboot. I had to close all of my files.
Afterward I could not open the book file. Worse, the computer couldn’t even find it. You can imagine my panic, which escalated when I learned that not only was the file inaccessible on the computer; my “cloud” program had not backed it up.
My long day’s work was lost.
The following day I did the only thing I could do: I redid my edits, spending nine hours at the computer in said sweats and bedroom slippers. At the end of it, my brain was fried. I could manage only a blank stare. After two days of sitting in this chair, I was stiff when I stood up to walk. Like a zombie.
It made me think of The Walking Dead. I must have looked like one of them, making my way to the kitchen, fixing the barest of dinners for myself—meat loaf chunks stirred into baked beans--and then spilling it as I attempted to eat in front of the TV. The only good thing I can say is that I did not stumble out into the neighborhood to scare others.
I love my work. I even love being busy, but this week I got behind. I neglected my appearance and felt like a zombie trying to catch up. I guess that’s why they call it a deadline.

Monday, February 18, 2013

But Literally, Folks...

I’ve always been a literal thinker. When I was a young girl, I used to stand beside my mother’s dressing table and watch her get ready for an evening out. Mom would always say she was going to put on her face, and I didn’t understand how that could be possible. She had a face; why would she have to put one on?
I was usually the last one to laugh at a joke. Mom thought I had no sense of humor, but she was wrong. I just spent an inordinate amount of time figuring things out.
My inability to think conceptually was a hindrance in business. Our company always wanted to be cutting edge, and we could see the latest trends in jargon by reading memos from senior management. Those memos were full of lingo that frustrated me. When I read “think out of the box,” I wondered: What box? Ditto “pushing the envelope”: What envelope? When someone spoke of a sea change, I wondered what business had to do with the sea. I didn’t know what any of those people were talking about. A particular favorite phrase was “going forward,” inserted anywhere in a sentence. Who or what was going forward? That was never specified. It took me years to realize that it meant “from now on.”
For a long time I thought something was wrong with my brain. Everyone else seemed to grasp what I could not.
I was in my fifties before I understood putting on a new face. NOW I get it. I get it every day when I stand in front of the bathroom mirror and dust on the various cosmetics whose purpose is to disguise my flaws or define my features or add color. “Add an expression” isn’t even too far-fetched on some days.
As for the business catch phrases, I do get them now…now that I’m retired and free from the onslaught of those frustrating memos. I now realize they really didn’t say anything.
I still stick with the truth. Writing fiction has always seemed like a magic trick to me. My genre is creative nonfiction, the creative part being in the words I choose, the examples I include, and the descriptions I write.
I’m still the last one to get a joke, always a few seconds behind the others. And I’m fine with that.