there are the constants to my weekdays

The train, the walk, the pavement. I vary my route depending on the red lights on Michigan Avenue. There are, as well, the revolving variables. On the train or walking from the train to work, I see the same people over and over, as if I know them, though I do not know them.

The girl whose hair is always tangled in the back, as if she is a restless sleeper who has tumbled from bed into work clothes, into her army green duffle coat.

The tall dark-haired guy in the Members Only jacket and Adidas sneakers who seems to have walked out of the 1970s and bounces a little as he strides along long-legged, crosses streets on the diagonal, unbothered by corners and cross walks.

The guy in the red and black down parka with his bike messenger bag slung across his torso, who smokes in the morning. He meanders ahead of me as I jog side to side, trying to dodge by, trying not to inhale.

The panhandler who sits rocking forward and back, shaking change in a 7-11 to-go cup in the steady rhythm of his rocking, saying good morning to each passing person regardless of headphones and averted gazes.

I see the same clothes and boots and bags on different people– the furry hooded parkas with the round goose patch insignia, the navy shoulder bag with the leather straps. This uniform. I was absent the day they assigned it.

There are the two girls in scrubs– girls, not women, although adult– walking together to the hospital, chatting in their chirpy bird voices. Pretty grown up girls who were pretty little girls. I imagine their happy childhoods with healthful extracurricular activities. I imagine their lack of suffering more than the death of a beloved grandparent. Sometimes they’re joined in the walk from the train by an Indian guy who wears a cap with ear flaps. I imagine catching up to the girls and walking with them. I imagine making them my friends.

For several mornings I see one of them without the other and wonder: Did she just change shifts at the hospital? Has she gone away, to another hospital, another city, another state? Is the one she left behind lonely? And I, will I never see her again?

And then one day I step off the train, and there they both are, going up the escalator, having their morning conversation. And all is as it should be.

 

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half bald old dog

…walking with her old man, approaching the entrance of the Penninsula Hotel, barks once, pauses, barks twice. Pauses. Two more barks and she’s under the canopy, turning toward the small door to the side of the grand entrance. One more bark. Out bustles the doorman, says, “I didn’t know if you’d be here,” reaching across the valet desk and into a jar of treats. Her man replies, “She wouldn’t miss it. She would not miss it.”

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making bread

There’s some kind of gutsy witchery about the craft and practice of kneading scalded milk and melted fat and salt into ground grains to produce wonderfully variable loaves.

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stretching & growing

Last winter my back, usually pretty problem-free, piped up in a fit of pique. The immediate cause was clear: a week-long yanking-about by my parents’ overgrown Lab puppy– one irresistibly adorable beast in that compensatory fashion employed by most difficult critters (babies, spouses) to ensure an otherwise questionable survival.

This energetic canine visitation exacerbated daily and, more problematically, nightly twinges of bodily protest. Assessing the alternatives, I self-counseled: time to straighten up my act. While I’m not the world’s worst slouch, my posture could surely stand some tweaking.

Several years and countless hours spent straining my gaze toward a computer screen compounded by a bad habit of slinging heavy bags over one shoulder have resulted in an S-curve torque in my neck vertebrae that impacts the median nerve and sends pain and numbness down one arm and, most annoyingly, into my writing hand. For a decade now I’ve contended with this aggravating condition, unable anymore to keep the longhand journals I maintained religiously and waking frequently in the night to pins and needles in an appendage like an inflated blowfish.

Back in Iowa I enjoyed the nigh-magical ministrations of a chiropractor who performed delicate electric percussions and sonographic therapies that relieved my screeching nervy hand. Transplanted to Chicago, I’ve missed this expert reengineering of the all out o’ whack.

Failing to engage a local replacement, I’ve taken it upon myself to conduct an intuitive and amateur course of reconfiguration, not quite yoga, derived in part from high school era modern dance stretching routines: those patterns of ranging movement, drawing up energy from within and flowing it into configurations before the miroir.

Like my several houseplants who greenly rebreathe our apartment’s interior atmosphere, sympathetically respiring our collective exhalations back into fresh oxygen, I inhale purposefully as I incline toward the sun and drink in clear water.

Some days it takes hot cascading sheets of steam to soften and elongate all the rough and knotted places inside. As I breathe into the shoulder-drop, inevitably something pops and releases. I close my eyes and focus down the entire wired length of my being, straightening, and unkink just that much more.

Pop pop pop.

I imagine uncurling the pillbug armadillo psychic/physical self that’s clenched up incrementally over the course of preceding weeks.

Bending deeply, leaning gently and ever more inexorably into clutched-tight pockets, I can feel the letting go. Inhaling, I relish this sensation of release and push deeper into the curve. Concentrating, I make of myself a shape both vibrant and articulate.

Minuet back to bum shoulder, joints creaking like stubborn hinges, warming under the fluid of motion. The plants and I, we stretch to grow toward the light, envisioning ourselves into best shapes for living forms.

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life! an anthem!

Anthem.

It’s got a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

Confident. Upbeat.

If not outright optimistic. Full to the grinning brim with bravado and tally-ho! O, blow ye buglers, it be mine Anthem. Animato – vivo – presto!

Just now I was busy doing the odd bit of tidying up and happened across a pretty sorry view behind the door stenciled life here in the ‘gazey old blog: “ingrown,” “splutter”ing, “thrash”ing and so on and dreary so forth– come on, now, really. Enough is quite enough, Miss Mopeypants.

Cue those gleeful old banjos and uekeles! High time’s arrived to dust things up a bit and brush off the lagging trombones, hoist a holler out across the great dimensional effervescence in a good old fashioned L’chaim! to all the loved ones and theirn, and theirn, and theirn, ad joyous infinitim.

It’s an honor to be a part of this whole fantabulous being-here trip.

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Ingrown

45 years old and all I can see is this damn blemish.

O panoply of most microscopic yet irksome concerns…
it would feel more worthwhile
to occupy myself with someone *else’s* needs,
a child’s for instance, legitimate, developmental…
but that there’s a whole ‘nother topic for another post.
In the meanwhile I excavate the geography of my own face–

I did it to myself. I mean, it’s not a zit exactly, though I do get those from time to time, too, even unto Middle Age, le sigh.

No, this particular little bugger stems from having plucked a hair. That’s all. Took my surgical steel tweezers to that little bugger and nipped him out– only to have it go and get all irritated and ingrown like they always do. A surely victimless plucking event recently routinely followed by two weeks of cosmetic histrionics: swelling, unpleasantness, and social blight.

high school classmate echoes out of yore,
“Never touch your face!
The oil and dirt on your hands
will make you break out!”

In point of fact it must be noted that I’m temperamentally prone to a mindless digital nitpicking (when Chris catches me at it, he gently slaps my hand away and I, in my more gracious moments, thank him to do it) which could surely have contributed to the exacerbated infection in this case… To be sure some sort of egregious disharmony has surely been struck to render this here chin a Rorschach of “dark spots”– apparently attributable to what amounts to genetic compulsion: based largely on stray observation I conclude inherited tendency toward facial self-dissection through the maternal line. I suspect my sister, too, quite frankly– therefore both sole observable blood-kin cast as big pickers. Not so the now-deceased Victorian dowager Grandmother by adoption– she’d not have deigned to pick so crudely upon her visage with a filthy digit. But those brash and vulgar redheads are another matter altogether, now, fairskinned ill-gotten sprouters lightly furred with glowing down on chin and cheek which caught in the right backlighting proves perceivable as both haloey and soft but inevitably is punctuated by the odd stray follicular rebel, that one that will occasionally spring forth, so absolutely singular and fat with ambition.

Then, by gott in himmel, my mother, my sister, and I myself will pluck that hair straight out, right there and then, just wherever the moment finds us in the course of daily routine (though in strict point of fact we’ll likely as not have been picking already, absently scritching away with fingernails in creeping persistent survey for telltale tiny roughnesses to remove), this unconscious digital address having located a specific marauding irritant will fix upon the discovered protrusion, urge together those always too-soft fingernail tips, reflexively scissoring to grasp and pull!

Unfortunately in response (in my case alone for all I know) these wiry buccaneers of my biology, solid sprouting hairs grasped  between crescents of thumb and index finger snap, then plunge and burrow and cause to fester itty bitty swollen caverns of reddening fleshly gore, churning subterraneanly with uninvited microorganisms, fashioning and forming around a minuscule kernel of aggravated infection.

The difficult pale knot so accomplished will then rise with ohso stately grimness from the epidermal underworld, brim and build to a white welt of threat, tauntingly too deep for release, yet, ugly and evil with lurking— until at last I can bear no longer and go and fetch equipment and tools and set to turning the whole thing inside out.

Begin: Hot hot water on a scrubbing cloth:
dip, apply; dip, apply and hold, hold, hold;
dip, apply; repeat.

Bit by bit the thing will give, some small entry will open, softened, sometimes chafed, to opening, and then, oh release, the grotesque and voluptuous thrill of expression. 

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Hack splutter gust

Feels like I’ve been sick forEVER. Flu, then a brief reprieve, followed by cold/allergies/sinus + respiratory gunk unto infinity. Tea by the bucketful, out the proverbial wazoo if not the schnozz, danke gott. Candy-colored collection of cough lonzengery. Poofs and heaps of spent tissue brimming from baskets that like laundry insist on emptying. TB sheets to wash, dry, disinfect, and refold into tight and orderly linen closet stacks. Life to realign, spine to get up and out walking in light of day, lungs to exercise in fresh air. The houseplants have been such greenly companionship, but I’m ready for some outside world explosure. Friday night downtown, smack! zing! ahoy!, for literary cum gustatory junket with endearing companions I ain’t laid eyes on in a parch days.

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simple pulse

weekend morning peace– hanging in the quiet kitchen with the wee beastie snoozing at the foot of my stool, chimes singing away through the open balcony door. following a few days of clogged kitchen sink drain, maintenance maestro snaking it out yesterday, this morning I’ve done loads of dishes and somewhat mastered the workspace chaos– though a big bucket of fetid-smelling drainwater remains shut up in the under-sink cupboard, which I’m choosing to leave for the tending of the manly man before I can put back away all the cleaners and whatnot that reside down yonder.

spent yestderday in the south burbs with the fella’s fam, pre-cousin-wedding-ing, introducing small monster to puppy grandparents, whose dogs generously tolerated his utmost sass, and returned home laden with a panoply of jewel-bright rubber chewables. surely human offspring would bring tenfold welcome.

work is work is schmerk. home organization drifts and lags, though thanks to heroic cohabitant we’re now equipped with plentiful bathroom shelfage. bit by bit. the days spin by. at night I feel my forties and find a dozen hundred larger, more meaningful accomplishments I wish I’d made yet. evenings are tough in the sathead, mornings kinder, weekends best of all– though the weight to make large changes swaggers in then with all its impatient bravado and sunday eve descends like a wicked clunker.

summer swelter has arrived after a full-on july reprieve, and we’re running the ginormous a.c. unit in the front rooms for the first time since the move– dim and cool in there with a small lake forming on the sidewalks below.

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