do what you gotta do

I’m in a pretraining session for a job for which they’re only going to hire one person—I’m just certain it’s going to be me even though its’ not really what I want to be doing—and then the manager trainer keeps slipping up and almost giving away who they’re leaning toward until, finally, with half a day’s session still to go, he gives it right away—and it’s another girl I used to go to middle school with—and I know she deserves it, and I really do like her, but I’m still bitter and resentful and leave the room for a break, considering staying gone—but I can hear the rest of them continuing, so I go back to sit through the rest of it with the others. later, after work, I ask a little toy why it didn’t work out, why I failed, and it bleeps and bloops and spits out the answer, and I’m expecting something very generic and Magic 8-Ball-like—but when I read the ticker tape, it says, You just gotta do what you gotta do and get on out of there.

on making it look easy

my father takes me down to the basement to show me the “multipurpose room”—which turns out to be the space under the stairs completely converted for utility storage—it’s been brilliantly and perfectly organized, and I ask him how he’s managed it, and he gives me the name of some organization consulting company. then he’s telling me how my mother hadn’t wanted to get rid of her something-or-other and so there are gallons and gallons of what looks like whole wheat flour in plastic milk jugs, which she’ll doubtless never use—but still I feel sorry for her in the face of my father’s rage for order— it seems so ruthless, steamrolling everything in its path. we go into the laundry room, which has also been completely transformed, and I say, hang on, how many laundry machines do you have in here? and he looks smug and smiles and says, just wait—and it’s clear he has several set up for specific purposes and plans to give me a demonstration—they’re all professional grade, and everything’s neat and shiny, and somehow I’m just disgusted by the excess and single-mindedness.

I’m hang-gliding—or somehow not actually me hang-gliding, but virtually, like watching as if I’m right there a demonstration of what not to do—he’s hot-dogging—an expert, so he can get away with it—but the commentator’s pointing out how foolhardy and dangerous his maneuvers are, letting go of the handles and swinging free in space—and he’s clowning and looks so happy, and we swoop along with him—then he’s low over the water when he regains control, never seeming to worry, and swoops it up and inland over the roofs of the houses, just clearing them—and I ask, isn’t that kind of close? and the commentator tut-tuts and says, that’s what happens when you goof around and cut it close—but really all I can see is how fun it looked and how he made it look so easy.

contemplating cowbird

I’m visiting a couple who are friends— actually more hanging out with him while she’s off doing something in another part of the apartment—and it’s friendly and easy until he walks me out to the driveway and then leans close to me and I startle and back up fast and say, no, no way, I’m not going down that road. but, too, my pulse has picked up in spite of me—I didn’t realize I was the least bit attracted until that moment, but afterwards I can’t help playing out scenarios in my imagination—and I rush around trying to gather up my stuff, a little pile of my jewelry scattered across the bed, in order to get out fast— though, too, I’m not in fact getting out very fast—and outside at first it seems my car’s missing, that it must have gotten towed, but then I see it mired in mud—along come the authorities who start grilling me on how it got there, seemingly determined to think the worst. back inside the couple’s house, he and a bunch of other guys are rearranging computer equipment—I try to help but quickly understand they just want me to get out of their way. so I’m loitering in the hallway, looking through the shelves at the couple’s books and feeling envious and wondering if I could after all be involved with him if she weren’t in the picture.

care full

I’m trying to help bonnie get settled in a new office on the campus of a boarding school—and she’s decided she wants a room on the ground floor of the freshman dorm, and she’s working with the facilities coordinator, a young woman not long in her job who’s doing her best to accommodate the tenured faculty member—and I feel obligated to speak up on behalf of… the students? tradition? inertia? in any case, I feel it would be wrong for her to go in there and displace freshman girls and make structural renovations to the internal architecture of the old building—so I’m making arguments—and I know the dream really bothers me because I’m tossing and turning, going over the lines of argument half-consciously.

there are burrs in the cat’s fur, all through it, deep up against its tender belly skin, and I’m trying to work them out with my fingers, careful not to hurt it more.