August 10, 2002

the return

mountains good
city bad
deer good
stray cat bad
pontoon boat good
blue minivan bad
hotel good
house bad
service good
no service bad
eating out good
cooking bad
fishing good
PR bad
sun good
flourescent lights bad
swimming good
typing bad

guess where I'd rather be.

August 9, 2002

Gone fishing

Headed to Red Top Mountain for a day or so to fish, swim, and celebrate our 16th Wedding Anniversary, with Jenna in tow, of course. Will reflect upon our return. Hard copy blogging while gone. Film at 11.

August 6, 2002

Skeleton Keys

Before I happened upon yesterday's metro carnage, I was taking one of those naps--a three hour doosey during which I never slept at all, rather lay there paralyzed by visions hell bent on attacking me. Those are fast dreams. It's like being pummeled by a stronger oponent with bigger boxing gloves than you. I always "wake up" from those kind of naps more tired than I was before, and generally suicidal. It's a long standing thing with me--DON'T NAP.

You see, I tricked myself after having a baby. I became a pretty good napper. A champion napper. You have no choice but to nap when you have a baby. Our little chow hound demanded milk every hour and a half. Her shrill scream would snap me out of slumber, wouldn't hush until her mouth was busy on my breast, where it gnawed for a half hour, which meant, I spent three months sleeping one hour at a time. That's some major nap mileage. Yeah. I learned to nap. I really can be like normal people.

No, sorry. Not so. That was just exhaustion talking. I still can't nap. Not without waking up feeling like I need to crawl out of my skin, like nothing could ever possibly be okay again.

Where does that come from? It's not a fear of napping--I like the idea of napping. It's the fear of waking up into chaos. I got a glimpse of it tonight, as I thought and thought about it, and almost got back there, to the morning after my father died, the first coming awake with the knowledge that nothing would ever be okay again, and I think my wake phobia may have roots to that very morning. The day of the news, I did what any six year old would do, I think. I asked to go outside and play. I wasn't allowed to. Understandable. Now. Not then. Okay, you guys have a stiff drink and I'll sit here twidling my thumbs--what about my relief? Play was my relief. But not this day.

Still, the day he died, as I remember it, wasn't that bad after the initial shock wore off. Used to being helpless, children come to acceptance faster than adults do. You have been trained by six to accept what you have no control over.

The next day. The waking to find everything still undone. That's where it is. That's where I am.

So yesterday's nap was one of those three hour paralysis sessions that I guess other people call naps, and one of the wake-dreams I had was about skeleton keys.

Growing up in western New York, the houses were old. Not like here. City houses in Rochester are big, huge, old, structures with lots of oak and wood inside and a whole lot of character, some good, some not so good. The doors in the houses I remember aren't these hollow pre-fabs. They're solid. They're massive. And all the ones I knew had skeleton keys.

That's what parents had back then that we don't have now. Skeleton Keys. For all the inside doors, the bedroom doors. One worked pretty much like the rest. All you needed was one good skeleton key. You know why skeleton keys are different than regular keys? Why those locks are different than the spin-the-handle knob locks we have here? Because skeleton keys worked from both sides. Lock in / lock out. That's how good Rochester Catholics kept all twelve kids on regular nap and bedtime schedules. That's how they kept kids in line, out of their hair. That was discipline. That's when "Go to your room" meant you were going to your room, and if you came out, the skeleton key would make sure you didn't do it twice. Lock us out, lock us in. Privacy. Order. Enforced loneliness.

Something to be said for that. Or is it just time for me to take another nap?

metro carnage

It seems that every time I go out in this metropolis that is Atlanta, trauma is waiting. Maybe it's the size of this overgrown and mostly annoying city. Or maybe it's haunted. Something about everything being so new--burned down once to rise again with a vengence. What's under the layers of bulldozed earth, made so pristine by hired-hand landscaping and clean brick fronts. I think of Shelley telling me to peel back the layers of the onion. Be careful how far you go.

I'm on my way to pick up Jenna from afternoon summer camp. Forgetting the cell phone, I head back upstairs to get it. Those are the 30 seconds, a minute maybe, the ticking of the clock you become thankful for later, after you happen on an accident that just happened, one you would have been in if you hadn't forgotten something, hadn't stopped to wipe down the counter before leaving.

I'm one of the first cars there--neighbors are already rushing out of their houses doing the thing that makes people feel connected--we're at war you know--and God bless them, they try to direct traffic, call 911, wonder how the hell they'll get out of their driveways now.

Like an exclamation point at the nucleus of the wreckage, I see the perfect, shining coat, amazing muscular body lying on its side, part of him still under one of the cars, three cars in all in various stages of being forever mangled, interrupted from the daily rush by the simple and innocent instinct of this purebred Rottweiler who decided to cross the road at the wrong instant. He's still--I know he's dead. A petite blonde with bad hair kneels by his belly, strokes his face. She isn't crying. I wonder if this is his owner, or one of the unhurt from the mangled cars feeling just as crushed.

I've seen accidents with semi-trucks where the unlucky participants didn't look as bad as these cars. What the hell happened? I can only imagine the white car turning off the side street, seeing the romping mass of life charging across the street, then slamming on the breaks just in time for the two cars barreling down the main road to smash him and this beautiful creature to bits.

You didn't have to be there. Officer, would you like me to tell you what happened? I've just watched the replay in my mind a dozen times, and I didn't even see it happen.

I sit two, three minutes waiting for the police to come, which they do, and clear an imaginary path so that the growing line of traffic can get around the mess, which is taking up the entire road. While I wait for them, I get to stare at the dead-or-dying rottie, the man in the driver's seat of the first car in the line of wreckage with his head tilted back in a way that clues me in: he has no other option. Neighbors are reaching inside another car and shouting to one another. Everyone is in motion, except the dog.

Sacrifice. That's what I named him, there, this day.

Happy Blogday, Marek

Marek's two today! Marek, I think that makes you old. Or else terrible. I dunno. But I do know you have been an inspiration to me both as blogger, and more importantly as a human being. Struggle, climb, fall, struggle, climb, fall, struggle, climb, summit. We will. Have a great blogday Marek!

August 5, 2002


Find out too late
maybe never
the swallow in the
garage yesterday,
drawn to the
shine of the
black truck,
what he saw there,

the sudden sound
of damage
wings meet metal
flight interrupted
by panes of glass
he doesn't know how
to stop trying
to break free.

How long did it
take me
to open the door
watch him fly off
touch down
on the highest branch
the nearest tree,
his rapid altitude saying
no thanks to you.

I pick up a feather
study its fine lines
play tricks with
is this all
he lost?

For Immediate Release

Make it Digiorno, Or Make It Yourself
But Don't Let RageBoy Make It

Boulder, CO., August 5, 2002... Digiorno Pizza today announced an improved method for cooking its fast-rising-crust Supreme pizzas. Next week the company will make a correction to its label, which previously instructed "users" to remove pizza from the plastic wrapper and cardboard before cooking. Digiorno now advises that cooking the pizza with the cardboard backing still in place is safe, and in some instances advised.

The correction was based on recommendataions from the R&D department, headed by Dr. Rage Boy, (RB) PhD, who made the discovery late yesterday that Digiorno cardboard is inflamable.

"I never knew you were supposed to take the fucking cardboard off in the first place," he said. "I put the za in the oven with the cardboard on the bottom, and when the timer went ding 20 minutes later, I'm asking myself, with blogger friend Jeneane Sessum listening in by phone, what the fuck do I put the pizza on? OUCH! Shit, I burned myself. So she goes, put it back on the cardboard, goofball. And I go, it's already on the cardboard. And she goes, already on the cardboard? What, you cooked the fucking cardboard? And I go, um, yeah. Aren't you supposed to? And she goes, you're the head of R&D, don't you know? And I go, no."

Sessum expressed immediate concern that dangerous carcinogens may have leached into the pizza from cooking the cardboard at the extra-crunchy-crust 425-degree recommended temperature.

"I was pretty sure he'd be dead," Sessum said. "I figured, either his place was burning to the ground and he had no idea--he's on these medicnes, you know--or that he'd be taking a dirt nap after one bite of that bigass fast-rising crust laced with poisonous cardboard shavings."

In a surprise move, RB pulled the cardboard off the bottom of the pizza, threw it in the trash, and downed the first piping hot piece in 30 seconds flat.

"It fucking tasted better," he said. "Tender, chewy and crunchy all at the same time, with a nice wood smoked flavor to boot. I'm thinking that this is the Reeses Fucking Peanut Butter Cup story all over again. Peanut butter in my chocolate, cardboard in my crust. EUREKA! So I call the boss right away and I says to him, Papa Digiorno, I gotta some news! Tell marketing to call me--I gotta newa crust idea!"

The company intends to add the cardboard-ready fast rising supreme pizza crust to its product line sometime next fall. Currently, packaging on the full line of Digiorno products will be revised to include instructions for the with-cardboard preparation method.

Digiorno's move shook the already volitile market, with Dominos' stock up $8.70 on the news.