Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday in a Black Sweater ... trying to decided if I go all out or stay inside.

Hell Boxes and Handbaskets

What it feels like ...
a monster tumor,
a kind of malignancy,
as if someone
has gnawed my bones,
splitting through to red marrow,
feasting on my insides,
a hunger beyond my reach,
defying me, stealing my might
spitting the acid mess
of woulda-shoulda-couldas
back into my open wound.

Worse yet ...
the wound is me,
but does not become me,
hard-scarring assault on my being,
burning worse than fire,
cryo'd, shards of skeleton,
me-mulch, like broken china,
pieces to small to repair,
dust that burns my eyes,
stinging my tongue,
burning past my throat,
gut rot, hemorrhaging free.

I am choking ...
I cannot breathe,
unable to draw life
betwixt-between broken ribs,
pithy meat gone acid-burn,
useless feed for my blood,
what's left of what has been let,
circulating in bloodless cold hell,
as I feel the curse now
acutely aware, chronically burdened
by a cure hurting worse
than the original disease.

I am left ...
reeling from strong medicine,
side- and after-effects rotting me,
occasional bouts of overdose,
for quick and certain relief,
in order to clear all margins,
the inner mending painstaking,
a deathlike, anemic winter,
hurting to the healing bone,
until finding the strength
I unlay blame, kill the shame,
reweaving heart to soul again.


n. Printing
A receptacle for broken or discarded type. The trough that runs between the aisle of the heavy metal carts into which dead pages are thrown. In the old-time printing world, this was a place for "discarded type," a recycling bin for "broken type."
"Hellboxes" are also used by soldiers, with the box holding the detonation switch for the wired explosives at the other end of the long fuse line.

hand·bas·ket Function: noun: a small portable basket -- usually used in the phrase to hell in a handbasket denoting rapid and utter ruination .... or not! :)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Becoming Me

The 21st century finds me,
staring down the electric range,
so not Plath-able,
even with miles of duct tape.
A garage full of boxes,
of unpacked books,
what would Sexton do with that?
No place to park after dark,
which leaves me, leaving me,
out in the open,
an empty husk,
no one the wiser,
to my undoing,
my coming undone
becoming me.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Filling in the Blanks in Blank's Apartment

Filling in the Blanks in Blank's Apartment

On the floor of the bedroom is a futon couch/bed on a low-lying wooden folding frame. The futon lies perpetually flat, its folding abilities an implied, and not yet performance art. I have yet to see this bed act like a couch.

A growing pile of screws and washers rest under the futon frame, hence its inability to return to lounge-upright from perpetual bed status. Of the two cats in the apartment, the white cat, pink-eared and blue-eyed, playfully bats this hardware about on a regular basis. The black cat drools a lot.

I read once in an entertainment article that the comedic actor Chevy Chase (famous for his falls on Saturday Night Live) slipped, fell and injured himself in his bedroom one night. He had stepped and then skated on a magazine left at the carpeted bedside. For all his staged falls on SNL, he was unable to right himself at home, and after a bout of magazine-boarding he suffered injuries.

I'm pretty sure this is the reason that Blank keeps his “Victoria's Secret” catalogs and “Legs!!!” magazines under the futon. Though his futon frame rides very nearly to the ground, and a person has to roll out of it rather than disembarking from a sitting, to standing to walking position, Blank keeps the magazines out of sight, but close in mind, to prevent household accidents. And, I suppose, within reach for “other stuff.”

Against the wall, and above the futon and frame, attached to nothing but memories of another bed, stands the remains of a waterbed headboard. It is of the mirrored and shelved variety. You could say it was a gift, the truth of the matter being; previous tenants left it behind.

If Blank feels like delving into someone's thoughts, besides his own, he has a jar of pennies on the headboard in order to pay for incoming calls for conversation. A jar of quarters rests next to the jar of pennies, on the outside chance that the bedding might one day be offered an all-expense-paid trip to the Laundromat.

The entire time Blank and I have been seeing each other, both the penny and quarter jar have gone up in value. From time to time, I have even donated to the cause, silver and copper, leaking from the pockets of my jeans on more than one occasion. No pennies have been dispensed for thoughts, and the sheets very well could travel to the Laundromat on their own power, followed by Blank's dirty jeans.

Time, not money, is what we spend in this room. There are wide waste and profit margins. It's a good thing math makes me sleepy, or thoughts like this would keep me up at night.

Across the bedroom, is a white-painted dresser of no particular design quality. It is the remains of Blank's parents' apartment days, a nonplus piece they no longer wanted among their modern day d├ęcor. It is too perfect for Blank's needs and was exactly the right price --FREE! The delivery of this piece was free as well, and a matching bookcase was thrown into the bargain.

My first time in Blank's apartment, I fought the urge to judge the man by the cover of his books, but old habits die hard. Book curiosity got the best of me and I spied the shelves for clues, as I spy them again now, months later, thinking perhaps I missed something. This man is still yet a boy.

The shelves have not changed much in the months that I have known Blank, other than a thin film of dust. What remains on the shelves is a hardcover book on how to pick up women, a few books that were required reading for college, including Leaves of Grass and a copy of Plath. Blank calls them his “sure to get laid” volumes.

Filling in any remaining spaces are Blank's books on C++ programming. There are also several cling photo albums filled with pictures of Blank's parents, his subdivided land/ranch-house only child upbringing, family vacations and a few college photos. He has an enormous assortment of pictures of his cats.

I believe I've failed to mention the window in the bedroom. I look at it now, turning away from what I'm not finding on these shelves. The window is expansive, commanding the entire wall, with a wide ledge, perfect for sitting, plant or person. It is only three floors up; however, a useless exercise if a person were to jump. I suppose this is why I have stayed put, until now.

The sun squints behind the dusty blinds, as if to scrutinize me. What business do I have here? Just how much longer am I going to hang around? What do I think I will find here?

I turn my face from this interrogation and continue my mental tour of this all too familiar place.

All or most of the furniture Blank owns is in this room. It could for, all intents and purposes, be considered the main room in this very small apartment. It is the room, in fact, we use the most.

The outlying rooms include the entrance hall, which opens into the living room, which opens into the kitchen, which spills into the hallway, which runs right by the bathroom, and here you are, right back in the bedroom!

The room we use the most.

Affordable apartment living is in a circle, if you are a nearly 30-something man living in a trendy part of the city. Trendy is the polite way of saying, this apartment is beyond all pretenses and not worth the rent for such an image.

The living room in Blank's apartment also doubles as a dining room. When I first came to Blank's place, there were four chairs surrounding what remains now to be now just the table, a bike, a computer desk, a desk chair, a stereo system and a tower of CDs. The TV had wheels and had already been shoved into the bedroom.

Blank has no couch. He owns no dish towels. The dishes and glasses in his kitchen cupboards are circa 1980s, things his mother couldn't sell at rummage sales over the years. The refrigerator contains mostly clear liquids with Aquafina bottled water and a bottle of vodka. What is not transparent, is white --eggs, a box of baking soda and the walls of the fridge.

The kitchen chairs have long since been moved to an alternate location --the Dumpster. Blank has pushed the glass-topped kitchen table against the wall of his living/dining area, just under one of the only two pictures on the wall, a repo print, a Lichtenstein. This afforded some space for Blank's recliner, yet another hand-me-down, lacking a price tag of any kind, and kindly dropped off by his parents.

The chair reminds me of the dry heaves in its absence of color. Vomit, in this case, would probably be a step up, for this less than beige chair.

The nausea hits me now, that feeling of over-eating, but yet still hungry in some odd way, and I begin to actively leave this apartment, in search of, I don't know what.

Blank has so often pointed out that I never leave anything behind after I spend a night or a weekend. My leave-taking, this time, is no different. I require no boxes, not even a small carry-on. On prior departures, admittedly, I combed the place and removed all evidence of any activity. Forensic relationship experts would find few clues that I existed here.

My tour of this apartment appears to be over. I leave, where I came in, shutting the door behind me.
I intend to begin again.

*My hope is that this piece reigns as "slice of life" observation and does not come off as a judgmental and/or autobiographical in nature, although we all know that readers tend to consider, dollars to doughnuts, if that darn writer might not just be penning all about themselves, or someone they new --no matter what they write!

In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott advises, if you are being horribly judgmental and/or biographical, you might consider changing the characteristics of a person slightly so they are less than clearly identified and less likely to sue or slash your tires. She has also joked, if you are writing about a past lover, you should give him a smaller than normal penis. She stated that no man in his right mind would sue you for defamation of character, if he had to go in a court room and say, "See, that's all about me, every last detail!" --- including the nearly microscopic member!

While I like Lamott's advice on how to reweave the patterns of a life observed, I chose to leave the size and nature of sex organs out of this one, unless of course you read between the lines, which I hope I do. -And if that's the case, you will find more than one person in this piece … mirror, mirror on this apartment wall. -A

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Vacation Said and Done ...

... returned from the woods yesterday. it struck me as weird, but i was really tired and almost drugged feeling when i got home, and i wasn't the one driving. i merely sat, slouched, napped and did not even read for the entire four-hour drive home.

i did some work when i got here, as well as running a quick errand. i had a cocktail at 5pm which was no different than while i was away. i did not, however, follow it with another and another on past midnight, and then sleep for 10 straight hours, but i did sleep well.

i hit the ground running this morning as well. more actually, construction has begun across the street on a new home, and the men were back putting finishing touches on the deck, and mark was out there putting up new lighting, so i woke to hammering, machines, bulldozers and dump trucks. ... twas most unlike my experience in the woods, swimming up from sleep each morning at exactly 10:30 to a chilled room, the sounds of birds and the lake lapping at the shoreline. however, there was still good coffee left in the pot, and on my run out to see my daughter yesterday she sent me home with a yummy plum crumble which i had with my coffee before work.

i worked. i ran errands and did some things with my youngest and eldest daughter. at 5pm i cooked dinner and had a cocktail ... again, not to be followed by another and another until bedtime, because we are back in the real world. mark chhanged oil in the vehicles, puttered more around the property, got a haircut, etc. etc. ... what guys do on that "extra day" they tack onto the end of their vacation. i never take that extra day. i should leaern to do that. instead, i fall face-forward into multi-tasking again.

one of my favorite quotes i came across while on vacation was, "Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back your work, your judgment will be surer."

i'm not sure that's exact in my case, but i hope so. i really tried to fall back, sit, and reassess things in order that i proceed, not with caution, but with some kind of plan. we'll see.

i did relax. i did rest ... which reminds me of another quote i happened upon while away, "now, blessings light on him that first invented sleep! it covers a man all over, thoughts and all, like a cloak."

i did sleep. a lot! deeply. magically and without dreaming! i loved that cabin bedroom, launched into that bed every night like it was the deepest, darkest ocean, and slept deep!

the quotes above are from leonardo da vinci (the first) and cervantes, the latter.

the reality ... i still have an awful lot upon my plate ... the plan, attack it with some semblence of organization and a smattering of joy if at all possible.

the cabin in the woods ... i shall think of it often ... i would have stayed another week and very well could have since there is wireless, but alas i have to get a kidlet ready for the opening session of school.

Monday, August 24, 2009

day 5 (last day) and day 6 (driving home) ...

approximately a zillion years ago in the history of my life, i used to leave the small wisconsin town i lived in and spend 6 to 8 weeks deep in the woods working for the department of natural resources in varying regards. my encampment was, in fact, less than two hours away from my home, but it was also a million miles away and then some in so many needed regards during my teen years from 15-18.
i remember when i'd come back home after the summer away, deep in the woods, among kettles and kames, along the great lake shores and all the other places the dnr would send us for our daily work. when i'd get back into the car with my parents, the car seemed compact, cramped and stifling in comparison to the work vans we traveled in, the constant singing and laughing, and hi-ho'ing or way to and from work each day. and when i'd get home the ceilings of our house would seem very, very low when compared to the a-frame-ish cabins i stayed in and the great outdoors i was a part of each and every day; even when we camped on weekends, we did so with just the stars above.
so for various emotional and physical reasons, coming home was always very, very difficult.
when we left our cabin in the woods this morning, i snapped this picture in the circle drive. by the time saturday morning had arrived, mark and i and our little dog were alone in the group of cabins, and last night well after dark, alone on the lake. this morning when we left, there was sun pouring through the trees and eagles flying overhead. last week when we arrived, it was misty and raining.
the week both went very, very slowly and very, very fast all at the same time.
after our four-hour sun-shiny drive home, during most of which i napped, i was surprised at how large our house felt when i stepped inside, how high the ceilings were, and how our voices practically echoed from wall to far wall in comparison to our cabin where we spent the last many days, a cabin which i laughed to myself easily could fit in our garage, and we'd still be able to get another car in.
it was funny to think of that now, how expansive my house/home seems now as opposed to the "cramped" nature of my house growing up, and how i felt pinched and stifled when i'd come home from the woods instead of rested. i had more regret than rejuvination.
so in that way, i felt almost as if i had traveled full-circle somehow this last few days, getting away, but not lamenting the return home, not feeling stifled or stressed, happy to have both places and both experiences ... and so i'd say "vacation well done."

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Day Three and Four (will be adding to this)

Okay, didn't I say?!!?!?!??!

And here is Scuppers my Sailor Dog

What I saw when I first got to this small town!

Making myself at home, this is a very intimate section of our liquor cabinet; VO and Tanq, but couldn't get 10 in
this small town.

trees and shit, i'll be adding to this ...

and this ...

yeah, so i've been sleeping deep! what i needed! and you can tell the mornings are cold!

whatever, more food ... this is mostly a place holder as we start our last night, or our second-to-last night. we haven't decided if we are leaving in the morning or the next day ... mark says it depends on the early dark/a.m. fishing after all the bass marathon contest guys are gone ...

yeah, i travel with limes ,who doesn't ......................................

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Launching Boats for Dummies

What you will need: One truck, one boat trailer with a Nitro bass boat, two people (one of them a grumpy old man, the other an always pleasant and upbeat woman), some water, a boat ramp.

What you don't need: A mind of your own. It will just make things worse.

Okay, so this is day three of our cabin stay. The last several days it has been rainy, but that's okay, because we have a few days left yet. And you must consider this as well, "How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then rest afterwards." Spanish Proverb.

We have been doing that a lot, resting, relaxing afterwards, etc. etc.

And I've been cooking the most amazing comfort foods in my tiny galley kitchen with the four-burner apartment sized gas stove. Tonight it's oven-baked pork ribs (with bbq sauce from absolute f'ing scratch!, stir-fried fresh vegies, thinly slice garden-fresh red potatoes and of course and ample amount of liquor, in the bbq sauce, and down my hatch!)

But today the sun came out so Mark wanted to take the boat to the launch, which is on the other side of the lake from where our cabin and dock are located.

So we drive over there. The boat is to go into the water, and then he's to motor back to the other side of the lake and park at our rented dock. I'm to drive the truck and empty boat trailer back to the cabins "without crashing the f'ing thing."

I could write another note for "Truck and Trailer Driving for Dummies" too, but mostly I just rolled my eyes and said, "Mark, I'm not a moron. I've driven a truck and a trailer before."

He wasn't listening, however, because he was busy backing the truck out onto the launch, and also telling me what to do when I got out, which sounded something like this. "When I pull ahead, you grab the rope and ..."

Now we have done this a MILLION times before, and I've never let go of the rope or caused any other damage, fallen into the water, cried and/or wet my pants. I've listened each and every time he's given me the, "When I pull a head, you grab the rope and ..."


I am not kidding you!

While he's parking the truck, readying it for my crash and burn drive back to the cabins, another guy is backing his own big-ass boat into the water in his own big-ass truck.

His wife, a blond version of me, is standing on the docks with her arms crossed. She looks like she wants to die.

Mark gets out of the truck and comes back to the dock, where I have the boat PERFECTLY where it is supposed to be and out of the way so the other guy can launch his boat.

And Mark says, "You are not supposed to ... I told you, you were supposed to ..."

And out of his mouth comes complete and utter bullshit and then some, to which I say, "Well, if that's what you wanted me to do [smile] then those should have been your original instructions, because I did exaclty what you said, and here's your boat," and I hand him the rope.

The woman says to me, "Don't feel bad. It goes the same for me."

I laugh.

Mark launches on this of course and says, "Why, is this your first time helping to get the boat in the water?"

And the woman goes, "No, I just SUPPOSEDLY never do it right."

Mark laughs.

By this time I'm walking away, saying good luck to the lady and, "If it makes you feel any better, I'm going to go crash our truck now and flip the trailer over!"

The woman laughs.

Her mother or the guy's mother, but totally a grandma, is on the shore with their children, and she says, "You go for it!"

Then I tossed a wave over my shoulder to Mark and said, "Bye Honey. See you on the other side of the lake, once I crawl out of the wreckage of our truck."

And then I drove back to our cabin uneventfully.

Now, Mark is out fishing alone today. We are not so romantically intwined that I can't send him out on the lake alone for the day, since we'll go out later tonight and have two more days yet for boating and such, before the awful day when we have to "rinse and repeat" the above, and go back to the boat launch to put the boat back on the trailer.


This, my friends, is why I pack Gin! Plenty of Gin, and earplugs!

I'm off to town to 'splore, and later out for a walk with my little dog. We tried the walk yesterday, after the rains subsided, but some little boys wouldn't stop "barking" at Walter instead of getting with the program and letting him stop barking first so they could pet him. And at one point the little boys actuallY ROARED!!!! at me and the dog, so I walked back towards the cabins.

Mark said, "That was short," regarding our jaunt.

And I said, "Well, it would have been a lot longer if the rat children had not come out of the metro john sewers to pick on our dog!"

And Mark goes, "Rat children?!?!?!? But you like kids."

And I'm like, "Yeah, most of the time, but these kids were ROARING at us, so I'm going to wait 'til the Pied Piper of Hamlin plays his little tune and leads them out to sea."

And Mark gives me that look, Christ! This must be a lit reference, oh my aching ass, I hope it stops raining so I can get the boat in the water soon, OR I'M GOING TO RIP MY OWN EARDRUMS OUT WITH A DULL FORK!

I love vacation. I am not kidding you.

I have never had such a good time. Mark and I have never not had a good time. (Try to build that sentence twice, why don't ya?!?!?!) And even our bad times, speed bumps and the like, in the last four years have led us further than one might think possible.

We are blessed, and we still have beer left!

And now a picture of the sky today after the rains went away.

And another of Walter ... While he was a bit disturbed and nervous after our encounter with the little rat children, he's able to sleep, mostly without screaming.
I used to have this Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward B&W photo pasted on black mat board stuck up in my kitchen in the early 90s.
Now, I'm happy to say, I "live" in that kitchen:

Day Two ...

The Nitro will go in the water tomorrow once the rains have gone away, and dock on this side of the lake with us. Huge lake, one in a chain, very, very deep. Can't wait to get out on it.

Sunglasses and Mark's hat waiting for another trek out ...

Sorry, can't get enough of the wonky cookware and the old gas stove. Love it!

Walter's sweatshirt and leash waiting for tomorrow ...
Night, cocktails and a relaxing evening continue ...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

...far from the madding crowd

.... 11 a.m. departure ... 08-19 ... Walter senses we might actually be going somewhere other than the groomer, the pet boarder, his "grandma and grandpa's house," for a walk, to the bank, to the drivethrough for coffee, the park ... yeah, woot!!!!! THEY ARE ACTUALLY TAKING ME SOMEWHERE!!!!!!

He can get away from the noise of the remodel, reconstruct and landscaping going on at the house! He is psyched.

Reading glasses and my break from my re-read of Anne Sexton, A Biography ... the funny part of which, I'm critically reading it this time, marking the pages, etc. etc. and the road, while Interstate some of the way, was bumpy at best ... and so my notations and lines in the book are jagged and crooked. It looks like I read the book drunk!

A ways down the road about three hours, almost there, and Wisconsin will not fail you ... drive any direction three hours, four hours, whatever, and you can find amazing things ...

... not sure how this blog will come out, or continue as i'm flying by the seat of my vacation pants slightly before midnight settled in our cabin on lake chetak.

... so here goes now, day one of our vacation ... in state versus out of state, and long overdue since we did not take a break or a trip this winter, prepping and saving and dreaming and scheming for our future, the purchase of our house off land contract, the finish of college for my second eldest, the almost finish for mark's second oldest who graduates next year, the marriage of my second eldest, the relocation and revamping of a life as a single parent now (even though that's pretty much what has been all along) for my eldest, the continued moving, shaping and coming of age of my youngest, mark's work, my work, and our little dog too ... and so, yeah, time off and away and in the woods LONG.OVERDUE!

mark travels ALL.THE.TIME!!!

he travels for work, and is everywhere and then some 8 days a week, and it is also these times that he scopes out locations for our trips, in state and out ... but this one we came up with in an effort to "get away" without having to go "too awfully far" (again the beauty of Wisconsin and it's "escapes") and something that did not involve an actual hotel.
we needed A CABIN! hello?!?!?

soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo ................... 'tis the first day of our trip to the woods/lake, ETC. etc. and i can't wait to see what we find here this week.

and it comes unfortunately (and/or fortunately) during my "twisted week," the time during which my head doesn't quite work in the way i would like it too.

i become disjointed, tangential, hyper and at the verge of "shut-down" at any given moment, even though i keep on going at all costs. it's difficult to describe, and i've been working at making it a part of me that i can accept, but truth be told, since my stroke, i haven't liked the supposed bi-polar acting brain that i'm left with. it is the bane of my existence, thank you very much.

it's the week that no meds work, everything falls through and follow-through in any regard takes all the effort i can muster during a week that i have trouble mustering, at best ... even though no one can tell but me (and those who know me the best) ... otherwise, a week or ten days such as this is farce-fucking-o-la!!!!!! at best.

because, seriously, folks, i act all "business at usual" when it and i get like this.

it is compounded by hormones, since i'm still ovulating and bleeding and maintaining my womanhood, who knew!!!! my neurologist years ago even said, "i'd hate to see what menopause will do to/for you" since just regular stuff and brain chemicals, head injuries, migraines and hormones and such, i'm a total wreck AT.MY.VERY BEST!!!

and it is post-stroke, and i can't stop lamenting that fact, even though seven years have come and gone since then, and i remain alive, but stilllllllllllllllllllllll i whine, recline and wish for the divine days where yes i had migraines and "weird headaches" and such, but at least i was me, the "before" me, because the *me* after the stroke, i have an inability to accept her yet, without a lot of anger and resentment. HUGE RESENTMENT!

... and so it goes, and there couldn't be better timing for it, this trip, this anything, I SWEAR!!

... a change of pace and place when a person's square pegs are bucking up against the proverbial circular black holes. it's a time like this that merits a trip away, away, away .........................that's me, that's my brain. that's what i live with ... but i digress because HERE.WE.ARE. and this is how we got here today:

we left for the woods at 11:00 a.m. on time, which i'm pretty sure we could have left at 10:00 but mark felt it necessary to polish all the rims on the truck AND the boat trailer, and so to each his own anal centering activities, right, which is why i love him, and he loves me like no other could, I SWEAR!

so it was the giant leap and leave-taking, leaving the house, the remodeling, the deck work and the yard restructuring and bulldozing and topsoiling behind, the rec-room design and fleshing out and the bare bones of the third bathroom addition, the hot tub, the new faucets, and all that rot (new rot for us ... but we left it to the contractor/family left behind while we went for woods, lakeshores, and peace and quiet ... and we went to lake chetak, wisconsin.

what did we take with us, in keeping with my to take and not to take list ... for real, what did we take:
-one man
-one woman
-one teddy bear puppy
-no ali, damn it! ... but having reached our destination and checked it ou ... WE WILL BE BACK, so she will get a chance; this WILL be "our spot" for all time until there is no time left ... annual, perptual, lost and now found!
-one truck
-one nitro bass boat that thinks we forgot about it this summer, and i swear it had cobwebbed itself to the driveway!
-two coolers, one metal, on igloo plastic; one with frozen and fridge goods, one with soda and beer.-one brown bag with tanqueray and vo
-one plastic basket of kitchen stuff (not supplied at the cabin) towels and an electric can opener
-one cardboard box of dry goods, can goods and seasonings
-one computer bag
-one toolbox
-one tacklebox (shit, i forgot mine!)
-one suitcase/computer bag, art and journaling bag (my traveling home office)
-one dog kennel
-two cellphones
-two cameras
-two overnight bags, i mean, really you don't need much for the near week; who is going to see you, and who changes clothes on a whim
-two bathroom kit bag
-two sets of reading glasses
-my meds (even though right now they don't particularly work worth a shit and/or a half!)
-books, cds (my supply of books would be lighter if i'd just buy a fucking kindle and get over myself)
-extension cord
-candles (awwwwwwwwwwwwwww, sweet)
-sandals, tennis shoes and our bare feet

departure ... and the drive ... had a great radio station the whole way. mark FINALLY RELAXED! ... the man who is always "on the road again" was this time, on the road again in "his truck" with the boat, and all the fluff!

mark drove, walter was walter, i read and was in deep thought, the world got greener and greener for every mile we went, and we had left green, but somehow, yeah, so ... it got greener, and lusher by the minute ... that is the cool thing about this lush state.

... and then we got here along lake chetak and the first thing i see ... BIGGEST DAMN BALD EAGLE! whoot! it flies right overhead as we enter the small town near the lake and our cabin.

...second thing i see, a sign for "sexton drive," and what was i reading all the way up here, or re-reading and marking and making notations along the way ... yeah, Anne Sexton, a biography, by Diane Wood Middlebrook! ironic yes! and my friend Gary says in email, "steal that sign for me [us]" which i'm not sure i can get to the corroded bolts (or be in county jail if they have one) and get the sign, but dare me to do an etching, double dare me and it will be done!! seriously, the sign and the eagle ... amazing!

...and the cabin ... i'm not even going to explain it ... it looks and feels like every cabin that has ever been, smells like my childhood summers and the like and vastly unlike, the good, the bad, the ugly and the stuff that i can't get past (as of yet) ... and i'm looking forward to all of it, even though it's that "icko iffo" week for me, where come hell or high water, one never knows what i'm going to do, over-do, undo and/or not do at all, but i've now come to realize that is the perfect time for me to take a vacation. seriously! that might be my personal cure!

we'll see. i have hope. i'll help float the damn boat; this might work! ... and the rest is in photos and stuff ...

.....the stove ... one of the first meals of which i'll make at least five while here and that doesn't count breakfast and lunch.

mark travels A LOT so it will be fun to watch him experience home-cooking, real food, staples and all the comforts of home [cabin] for 6 days straight, three meals a day plus snacks paired with fishing, relaxing, this that and whatever the fuck we please, food for the soul, soul for the food.

and the kitchen where it all happens in our cabin, the "oak" cabin, one bedroom, one twin sleeping space on the living/room/kitchen/dining room, one vintage pink-tiled bathroom, screen doors, french doors, ecclectic dishes, furniture, pictures, gas heater, tiny tv, stove, microwave, end tables ... you name it, this cabin has it and then some and spans the tests of time! i dare anyone to come to a place like this and not find something about themselves they thought otherwise forgotten.

... so, the meal, the table, what was the fare?!?!!!? .... center cut ham cooked with brown sugar and various seasonings, simmered with papaya, pinapple, mango ... paired with sweet corn seaosed with butter, salt, pepper, and italian spices, and spinach alfredo and fresh spinach greens! Yum YUM ... IN ALL CAPS!

i mean look at the table and the odd dishes, the formica and the ... i mean, couldn't you just bust into a million pieces without even trying?!!?!?

... and walter got the marrow from inside the tiny circular center-cut bone and then had a seizure and shot out to mars and back again ... supreme doggy treat! mark said don't give him the bone, it's too small, but tomorrow i'm taking part of the thick cord of his yard leash and i'm knotting it tight through and through the bone and it will be his friend this entire week, just wait and see!

walter has already died and gone to cabin heaven twice over, and there is more yet to come.

... and this, the teeny tiny kitchen in our teeny tiny house [cabin] for this week, where i hand-washed the dishes and relaxed as the storms and rains subsided, and the cool breezes filled the cabin through the NUMEROUS WINDOWS!!!! and the dog and his master napped on the couch after our late dinner totally drunk on good meat and marrow.

... and here *I* was, washing dishes by hand, swiping up, running scouring circles around things, calming at best ... reminded me of so many kitchens lost in the land of time ... and this is what a soul needs. no, not house-keeping measures, but the rote and routine patterns of things that remind you of where you came from, and why you'd like to stay a while, sit and chat and try as you might to remember your own damn self!

...anyways, i can't wait to wake, if i ever sleep tonight ... i mean, who knows when i'm this manic-and-panicked state of fucked up brain affairs, but all the better in the deep woods along the lakeshore, in the town we explored a bit tonight, and the town i'll explore more in the next five days ... and that's me, and this blog, and my vacation as it begins ... and i can tell already i wish for it to never end, and i see us coming back here again and again until these cabins disintegrate into to the mulch and moss and forest floor around lake chetak.

i think we found our annual place to find space, and/or a solitary place where i could go where the other knows i'm not far, and/or lost ...

... this was my attempt at catching myself in the tiny cabin bath, with the vintage deco medicine cabinet and pink tile.

anyways ... i have a found a place worth finding and a place worth reminding me of my self, and there will be more pictures, more words, and i will do some art here! yippy skippy.
this next six days. despite my disjointed brain pan, will be far less of a pain in the rain on my plain!

peace and glorious first day out.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Slow the F' Down

Slow the F' Down

Well meaning.
He gives the writer

Slow it down!
Sit outside,
in front of your house.
So to speak.
Just do it.
Find the middle ground.
Stay there.
Write what you see.

Your prose are poetic.

Write as if the world
will not come to an end
if you don't get all
the words out by lunch.

Slow it down.

is going to shut you up.
Not ever again.

Oh, she thinks.
I get it.

Slow the f**k down!
Wear pink.
Hair that kinks.
"Wine by design."
Swim away from that
blank inky cloud
into the pastel sunsets.

Whine by design.

I wrote this poem in 2003. A person really did tell me all these things. "Wine by Design" was my favorite Revlon lip color and nail polish. I was wearing an amazing baby pink sweater. My jeans were the color of a clear morning sky. I was hyper as hell while we had coffee and tried to catch up. I had, indeed, dreamt of a inky blank cloud that appeared over my head while I was swimming in the middle of a lake. My kids were on the shore. All I could do was watch the big, inky black cloud and I felt as if something was terribly wrong. I spent the rest of the dream in a fit, trying to get to the shoreline and my girls.

I was clearly rundown, stressed, out of sorts, burning candles that no longer had ends, let alone use-able middles.

During our lunch this dear man really did say, "Anne, slow the fuck down." And then he proceeded to tell me how sometimes my careening, horse-y, rushed, multi-tasking, gasping for breath with every word nature was endearing, to a point. I, however, had at some point in the last weeks since I'd seen him, passed the endearing point, and he let me know about it. Told me to slow the pace, sit my ass down, and just be and do and write, and quit acting like it was the last moment I had to get shit done.

So I find this piece appropriate prior to my vacating for a bit and heading out into the woods, leaving the contractors behind to work on the house, my daughter's wedding done and past by two weeks, my older daughter well on the way of establishing some new and significant changes in her life, and my younger daughter due home over the weekend. I can take a breath, if I wish, and/or if I remember how.

Several weeks back, prior to my daughter's wedding and the ultra-ramp up of so much going on at once this summer, Mark's brother hung a sign in our garage, attached to the garage door so I'd see it when the door went up. It said, "SLOW DOWN!"

Geez, where had I heard that before.

John said the way I "roar" into the garage he's surprised I haven't taken out the Harley, the riding mower, the dirt bike, Mark's lengthy tool bench and the fridge-freezer, and then gone right out the back wall of the garage, which if you must now ... the house is built into a hill, so I'd be totally dirt plowing down-under by then and come out on the other side of our subdivision.

My response, "John, shut up! Whatever, you ..." and then I'm sure I shot back any number of responses since we've been bantering and teasing each other now for almost five years.

But really, John said, I needed to slow it the fuck down.

And so with old advice, and the same new advice that's what I'm going to try to do. While I worked today, ran the dog to be groomed, ran errands with Carol, spent time with the wee girls, grocery shopped, have more work tonight, packing and some other odd bits so people understand the drill around here when I'm gone, I'll be off by mid-morning, to a place in the woods, LOVELY, DARK AND F'ing Deep!

And I'm taking along all the things on my list, and leaving behind the things I planned to, and while I'm there I'm going to work, write, read, collage art, fish, hike and make fantastic meals from scratch every night but one which we've saved to brave into the small town and "hang out with the locals" and eat racoon meat or whatever it is they do where we are going.

And I'm going to ....

Monday, August 17, 2009

What it Takes, and What I'll Take ...

What I’ll take:

-A fractured sense of what I am, what I’m worth and where I’m headed.
-One suitcase/laptop case, a change or two of clothes (who cares we are in the woods!), some pjs, extra socks, shoes and flippy flops, a hairbrush, meds, contacts, glasses, lotions, soap, mascara and lip gloss (don't ask me why!?!?! just seems rote), a medical dictionary and the current drug listings just in case my med clients need me, and my favorite client folder (the client I don’t mind if they bother me in their non-medical and more interesting fashion while I’m away), a good book or two or three or nine (in the event that no clients can reach me while I’m in the woods), art supplies, paper, pencil, old magazines and a glue stick.
-No razor because I plan to keep my wrists intact, not trim my bangs and if you must know I’m a “hairless wonder” leg and armpit-wise and I don’t have to shave much … hate me if you want to, it’s just in my genes.
-A very sharp knife, because I don't trust kitchen "utensils" which will otherwise be provided, and really what if I suddenly had the urge to hack at my bangs!?!?!?, skin a wild boar and/or carve my initials into something solid and worthy.
-Fishing license and wicker tackle purse, bug spray, vintage and odd-ball tackle, a bent and worn first-aid, lifesaving and trail guide that mostly I keep around because it gives me laughing fits when I read the text and look at the graphics.
-Sunglasses, since my rose-colored glasses are missing.
-A dog leash.
-My little dog too.
-Kennel and rations.
-A good frying pan since, again, I don’t trust the “kitchen and other needed utensils” provided.
-Kitchen towels and linens, since these are not provided.
-An extra blanket, because what if the one provided is scratch and/or questionable.
-Eggs, bacon, potatoes, pork ribs, ground sirloin, red and green grapes, spinach leaves, onions, mushrooms, nuts, fruit, slabs of margarine and butter, peanut butter, jelly, hard rolls, black and green olives, chunks of really good cheese, but not so many that I don’t have the excuse to go out scouting for more, because you know there are great cheese forests in Wisconsin, rows and rows of cheese growing to the sky, giant and Redwoods, and then the mushrooms I packed and ate wore off!
-My worn tattered medicine bag, because I might be brave enough to bury the dead this time, or not ...
-Diet Pepsi.
-Green Tea.
-Bread crumbs in case I decide I want to find my way home.
-A warm wrap for the chilly nights.
-A cold shoulder for anyone who tries to get in the way of my fun, or what looks to the naked eye to be un-fun, but is really me trying to unravel and re-weave myself into something I can use.
-My MP3 player just in case I get sick of the sound of the wild, yeah right, like that will happen.
-Toothbrush, because I’m really not clear what twig the Native Americans used to brush their teeth, and I’m not really up for getting poisoned by a rare hemlock.
-A compass, in case, despite the bread crumbs, I just can’t find my way home.
-A smart pair of sparkly shoes to click while I repeat the words, “There’s no place like home, th
ere’s no place like home …” just in case that’s all it really takes.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Contemplating, Leave-taking ...

Packing (preparinig to travel towards the likeness of my being)

Things I don’t want to take on my upcoming vacation to the woods:

-Too much baggage, the various carts and sacks of crap I’ve been dragging around all year will surely slow my pace.

-The dark circles under my eyes, the thoughts I’ve been tracing, to no good end, which only serve to darken my lower lids and curve my smile upside down.

-This insistent tightness settling into my right shoulder, direct result of fielding too many calls, cradling the receiver, multi-tasking, in search of varying means to a real goodbye.

-My broken heart, the glue to which just won’t stick long enough to hold my self to my self again, and I am left with blood on my sleeve.

-Each and every stubbed toe I’ve bandaged these last many months, since I tend to slam the little piggies every time I beat my head against a brick wall.

The brick wall – it, too, why can’t it remain in the rearview, as I pull away from the objects that are nipping at my heels, to a cabin built of sticks and a few carefully laid stones?

What if I huff, and puff and blow the whole house down, just as I am leaving, in my ultimate refusal to be the little piggy left behind squealing, and/or the one cowering and settling for a bit of rotted beef?

Why can’t I go to market, to market …

What if I not only mix my fairytale wolves and nursery rhymed swine, but I totally slip on Freud and mix my metaphors like a thick soup that might finally fill me?

What if I chase the steamy broth with liquor and a handful of polka-dots?

What if I find the place where I can finally breathe, and the world opens up and swallows me?

What if I like it down there?

What if I don’t come back, choose to live in the musty dark air, eating mushrooms and taking long, dark naps?

What if …

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Deep Purple

kindling temp

she used to think
better to keep my feelings
down below, tucked away,
in the dark, shaded, perhaps
jaded, more than likely.

but thinks again
better to lift my feelings
high above me, reaching out,
in the clear, tossed, highly
glossed, ever and just so …

… as if to say
i’ve arrived now, tip-top,
shifting shape, firmly planted,
above-board, blessed, never
stressed, hither and fro.

... yeah, so, this was meant to be the next photo in the photo-into-words thingy-wingy that i'm doing with gary and kerry.

however, i'm out of step, and essentially skipped in line, since gary has yet to submit his words for kerry's last photo ...

however, i'm also very busy of late so maybe i can just post this picture now, to start things off again, and the guys can play catch-up ... meaning gary owes words for kerry's pic, words for this, and also gets to pick the next pic ...

... and kerry owes words for this, and then can rest on his laurels until the next pic comes out from gary.

as if, and as tho' that made any sense.

i've been sitting on this picture ever since i happened to take it, in early june, through the broken window in the cellar wall of a one-room, two story/lofty log cabin.

i took this picture without flash and it really showed the depths of the cellar, but also the possibilities and light coming through the open trap door at the top of the stairs.

another door, off to the side, was open, but led to the dark stairs that climb toward the yard, but the light was kept at bay by a solid slanted door hugging the earth on the other side.

i also took a picture with flash, which totally illuminated the basement, but my feelings held in that i felt the darkened lower portion of the house told far more than the same space lit by artificial light.

it also reminded me of emotional places where i have been, where i kept quiet, thinking it best, to live and let live, no matter if my own thoughts and feelings drove my heart sick inside.

... and it reminded me of the song by Deep Purple, "In the Basement" ...

"...I came 'round to your front door, your back door was locked. Pushed your button, rang your bell, you didn't hear me knock. Oh baby, I saw your window open wide, so I crawled insideI ran to the top floor, but you were on the ground ... Fire in the basemen. Burn me up, scream and shout. There's fire in the basement. Only you can put it out ..."

... yeah, and so, and stuff like that ... carry on fellas ... i skipped a turn and it's your turn(s) now ...

Saturday, August 1, 2009

paper doll

Yeah, so probably nobody but me EVER wants to live inside my head, I’m just telling you.

I don’t know if this was the “payback” dream or what, but last night I had a bloody, horrifying nightmare.

Mark was sick, and in a hospital bed, which he totally hated, and he was hooked up to a whole bunch of tubing and all the usual hospital stuff, and there was some doctor there holding up an x-ray telling us that one of his lungs was completely riddled with cancer, and it was “TOO LATE TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT!”

Mark kept trying to get up out of the bed, but every time he did so, he would flop onto the floor like a rag doll, and when we would go to help him back into the bed he was no longer 3-dimensional, I’m not kidding! He became like a paper doll, only really, really flimsy and not made out of good cardboard stock.

He tried to get out of the bed twice. And the doctor kept mentioning the “TOO LATE TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT” thing, which only made him want to get out of the bed even more and made my stomach doing all these little flip-flops.

When I woke up I felt very lost, sad and a little bit like I was going to throw up.