Saturday, June 30, 2007
I must have strong introvert tendencies. I wonder if Noah ever felt this way.
There was a great turnout for the writers' get-together on Friday. It was nice to see everyone together. I think I counted 17. We missed a few folks, too, but we're going to keep doing this. Talia has pics and the rundown on her blog. I'll post the new info as soon as I can.
Friday, June 29, 2007
1. My middle name is Alien. It’s pronounced Elaine. This is the result of giving drugs during childbirth. Both of my children were born without the helpful influence of drugs. Their names are less creative, Thomas Eugene and Jocelyn Elaine. I hope they will be able to manage.
2. I despair of ever becoming a really creative person, despite my great beginnings at birth, because since then I have shunned the use of legal and illegal drugs. This is surely going to come back to bite me someday. I do enjoy a nice cold beer on the back porch; however, this may not be enough to tip the scales in my favor.
3. Once, as a teenager, I backpacked across Europe for six weeks, rode the Eurail, stayed at youth hostels, clung to a copy of Europe on Five Dollars a Day.
4. Hands down, I prefer live theater and live music to anything captured in an electronic form. I want to be close enough to feel the performers breathe.
5. I once saw eight plays in seven days in London. It was kind of like marathon sex when you’re young, something to boast about later, nothing I’d try in this decade of life. I can only remember the names of two of the plays.
6. I started out my college career at IU Bloomington in the theater department, in lighting design. I used to climb high into the rafters with a harness on to adjust the stage lights. I was the person shining the spotlight on Miss Sally Bowles in Cabaret.
7. I know how to milk goats and wash and blow dry chickens. Blowing dry a chicken is not half as much fun as you might think.
8. When I was 16 I hitched a ride with some North American Vanline truckers between St. Louis and Chicago. They put my broken down VW Rabbit in the back of their empty truck. To quote one of Andy Mozina's characters, "Don't nobody try this."
Bonus answer -- I want to see a moose in the wild before I die. The moose does not have to see me. In fact, I would probably feel a lot better about it if the moose didn’t see me. I hear they have bad eyesight, so there is some possibility that I will not die without this wish being granted.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
For the past few days I've been reading Andy Mozina's collection of short stories, The Women Were Leaving the Men. Bonnie Jo recommended it on her blog and the title was intriguing, so I decided to give it a go. All the stories up to the title story were really incredible in the range of voices and imagination that Mozina brought to the table. Beach, just a few pages long, was especially good, but I've really enjoyed them all and so I looked forward to reading The Women Were Leaving the Men. Others give it high marks, but I'm not sure why. It's flat, unimagined, dull. I thought Mozina might say something profound about society, but really I got the feeling he was talking about groups of people who had never loved each other at all. Maybe that is the profound statement, that we live in a society that is full of structured relationships but devoid of passion and love. It's hard for me to imagine the world in this way. Maybe, too, I should have known that you can't talk about relationships in this group scenario sort of way, that nothing good is going to come of it, that we're all quirky individuals, and I like it that way. What was I thinking? Obviously I wasn't thinking.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Sunday, June 24, 2007
I ordered new books and they have arrived. In the Middle Distance by Linda Gregg, Streets in Their Own Ink by Stuart Dybek, and The Women Were Leaving the Men by Andy Mozina. I’ve sampled each and they all seem good. I think I’m going to like Linda Gregg.
The Robins are teaching Fledgling to fly. I was amazed at how quickly Fledgling was ready to go. I just saw its whole head for the first time two days ago. We all hope it ends well. We scooped Fledgling up from our back porch last night, pulled out the ladder and popped it back in its nest after momma and poppa started dive bombing our cats. I held it while Gene got the ladder. I think it has its mother’s eyes.
After the Fledgling drama subsided we watched Mrs. Henderson Presents, my daughter’s Netflix pick. Jojo has incredibly good taste, even if she isn’t too hot at washing cars. It was a great movie, got me thinking again about desire in relationship to joy, and laughing about breasts, which is always a good thing.
Friday, June 22, 2007
Picnic was great. I'm sure Talia will post the details, (we learned that Spinal Tap is not a real band and that mulberries taste like trees to first time tasters -- Naoko) so I'm posting this history quiz instead. List the bands. Don't cheat.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
I'm going to bring my GPS, too, and program in a couple of geocaches, just in case anyone is interested in that.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Birds - Ms. Robin appears to have chicks, or whatever baby robins are called. I saw a small beak Saturday night sticking out from the nest, but nothing more. Ms. Robin is always there, bending over the nest, tail quivering. I wish I could see more. It doesn't seem to be helping to stand on the picnic table. I thought I saw a nuthatch below their nest the other day, but I can't be sure.
Bees - I think they've moved their nest. I still see them around, but they're not hovering over the nest anymore.
Books - I'm catching up on 20 years' worth of reading, it seems. I'm a quarter of the way through The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty. Every story is fine. Sometimes I stand amazed that I have lived so many years and not read these things. Looking forward to whatever Denis Johnson Talia brings me.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Birds -- My friend Ms. Robin is standing on the edge of her nest and I'm standing on top of the picnic table, trying to peer in. I can see nothing from my vantage point, but I have my suspicions. If nothing were going on she'd just be sitting there, not standing on the edge of her nest. My neighbors probably wonder why I keep standing on top of the picnic table, among other things.
Friday, June 15, 2007
Zeke crouched beside the creek and waited for the train. It was braying in the distance, compelling him to pause in the shadows beneath the trestle where the damp vapors of moss and mud saturated the air. He took a deep breath and pulled pieces of the heavy atmosphere into his lungs. Nothing made sense to him, but he knew the essence of Marlaina was here, underneath the trestle, waiting for him to breathe her in. He wanted to pull her right out of the mud. But everything was jumbled together, confusing him. He couldn’t quite tell what was real. He remembered laying here with her, on other dripping summer days, while the trains rumbled overhead, their bodies flowing together, mingling with the mud, but he couldn’t remember what she smelled like anymore.
As the train drew nearer he raised the machete hanging at his side and slowly ran his fingers along the blade, sweeping off the flecks of organic matter and flinging them to the ground. These flecks, he was almost positive, were not Marlaina. They could be cast aside. But a wave of uncertainty passed through him. He lifted the machete to his lips and ran his tongue along it, just to be sure. His tongue did not detect anything familiar, but he didn’t trust it, either. How could he know that it was really his tongue? Maybe if he stopped thinking about it, it would fall out of his mouth, like the machete sometimes fell out of his hand.
Overhead, the trestle shook as it proclaimed in uncertain graffiti letters: THE OC BOYS WHERE HERE. The train rumbled louder as it churned toward him. Suddenly the engine was overhead and the whistle was vibrating its notes into every crevice of his body, permeating his skin. This is what he had been waiting for. Marlaina’s presence engulfed him.
But the engine passed too quickly and pulled Marlaina across the creek and into the woods, away from him. Zeke backed out of the cool shadow of the trestle far enough into the shattered daylight to read the words on the train cars as they clacked by, a long banner of blocky instructions, just for him.
“N-S, C-O-N, Yang Ming, Maersk, Santa Fe, Hyundai, Hanjin, J.B. Hunt, Hub, N-A-C-S, China Shipping, TTX, Burlington Northern Railway, O-O-C-L, Coil Shield.”
The train was picking up speed and Zeke struggled to keep pace with the words. The last car spewed forth fat, unintelligible graffiti and then it was gone, carrying all that remained of Marlaina with it. But Zeke knew what to do. Despite its speed and the last pieces that he didn’t understand, he had captured the rhythm of the train and pulled it, pulsing, inside him. As he stood up the machete started swinging up and down. His lips began to repeat the train’s message in rhythm with the blade.
“N-S, C-O-N, Yang Ming…”
And then his legs started to run. He could feel Marlaina growing closer as he became the train.
Red warning lights were flashing and the black-and-white striped crossing arms were slowly slicing down through the air when Bart reached the railroad crossing. Any other day the 18-year-old would have gunned it and slipped across the tracks, daring the crossing arms to nick him. But today was different. He had to be in control. This was going to be his lucky day. He couldn’t do anything to screw it up. He put the car in park and waited. The train was coming and for once it was clacking along at a decent speed. It was definitely going to be his lucky day.
A screen door banged open and Marlaina emerged, plopping into a green plastic lawn chair that was perched on her sagging front porch. The house was old, formerly white, lately the color of cigarette-stained teeth. The windows were skinny and tall and rounded at the top, as though they were raising their eyebrows at the world. The roof bled a rust-stained tin.
Marlaina spied Bart’s car waiting on the other side of the tracks, next to the aqua mural on the liquor store that said Ice Cold Beer, and thought, “What the hell, why not?” At 32 she wasn’t getting any younger. She wriggled her toes against the cool boards of the porch and dislodged a fleck of paint from the rotting wood. The paint clung to her big toe. Everything about the place seemed to be peeling away. She could feel the rough edges of the paint on her toe as the engine popped through the scraggly bushes along the tracks and came into view.
Across the street, Rusty looked up from his Harley when he heard the screen door bang. He gave Marlaina a wave, but it took him a minute to catch her eye. She was staring at the liquor store across the tracks and didn’t notice him at first. As the train emerged, she turned in his direction and gave him a short, curt nod.
“Damnit, the boys were right,” he thought. “She is mad.” A wave wasn’t going to be enough. He crossed the street as the train whistle blew.
He and the boys at the fire station had been the first responders the day Marlaina woke up and couldn’t feel her legs. He had been afraid that something really serious was wrong, you know, like cancer or something. That would have been bad, somebody his own age, married to one of the boys, living right across the street, with cancer. It turned out to be nothing serious like that. After a few days of checking Marlaina out head to toe, the docs said it was just stress or some head stuff or shit like that. Nothing serious. They all figured she’d go to a shrink and tell all of the town’s secrets and start to feel her legs again. Maybe she’d take up yoga, like his sister Genise. Or get a boob job, that’d benefit the whole community.
But she didn’t go to see a shrink or buy any yoga mats or get her boobs pointing north again. She came home and kicked Zeke out, which wasn’t really fair. Jesus, everybody knew that Zeke’s head was the one that needed a tune up. He hadn’t been hitting on all cylinders for a couple years now. All he did was talk train trash all day long and swing his machete. After that crap started he definitely couldn’t go out on the fire truck anymore. They still let him hang out at the fire station, though. Besides, with that machete he kept the station bushes very neat.
Now it looked like Marlaina’s legs were working just fine. She was up and walking around. Nobody had seen Zeke in a month and a half, but if anybody was likely to see him, it would be Marlaina. He was bound to show up on her front porch sooner or later. Where else was he gonna go? Might as well keep things friendly. The town only had two bars and one liquor store. People had to try and get along.
“So, you’re feeling better, then?” Rusty said over the rumble of the train.
Marlaina flicked the paint off her toe with her finger and gave a thin laugh. “Yeah, I’m thinking about running a marathon.”
“Well, you know, me and the boys just wanted you to know – well, it’s okay about Zeke.”
She didn’t answer him, but just kept staring at her toes, looking for something else to flick. The train engine was rounding the curve past their crossing and the steel wheels were scraping against the rails.
“I mean, we’re glad you’re feeling better and stuff.”
“Yeah, last night I felt so good I hauled my own trash to the curb.”
“That’s good, real good. I saw you had that Bart kid doing it for awhile.”
“Yeah, he’s still helping out here and there. I’m not a hundred percent yet and things still gotta get done.” She glanced at the train and the flickering shots of Bart between the cars. Rusty didn’t notice.
“Well, without Zeke…” he began, before deciding to change course. “You haven’t heard from Zeke, have you?”
She shrugged. Her toes were beginning to feel numb.
“Nah, not since I cut him loose. He’s not my responsibility anymore. Maybe you and the boys oughta look for him.”
“Well, we been kinda busy, you know. But maybe we will. Maybe we will.”
“If you find him, don’t get any ideas about dragging him back here. Keep him up at the station. I’m not dealing with that shit anymore.” The train was disappearing down the tracks, the warning lights had stopped flashing, and the crossing arms were beginning to rise.
Rusty had backed off the porch and was making his way across the street, back to his motorcycle.
“Well, you wanna know if we find him, don’t cha?”
“I told you, Rusty, I can’t deal with his shit anymore. If you and the boys find him, you and the boys can keep him.”
Rusty was going to reply when he noticed that Marlaina’s gaze had wandered away from him, onto the tracks. He recognized Bart’s car bumping over the crossing and he thought to himself, “Yep, things have got to get done.” But he didn’t say anything. He just kept walking across the street and slid under the Harley. He had done all he could do.
Zeke paused at the base of the footbridge, uncertainty hedging him in. The bridge arched up from the tangle of brush hugging the low creek bank and landed high above him on the opposing shore. He knelt on the wooden planks, lowering his eyelids until only a slit of light came through. His senses, he knew, could not be trusted, but sometimes he could trick them into showing him what he wanted to know. He saw a shadow, moving in the distance, but what it was he couldn’t be sure. A deer, a man, clothes flapping on the line, they all cast shadows he didn’t understand. Beneath him, a glint of gold in the water caught his eye. A trio of suckers, each big as his arm, were finning by. They paddled slowly up the creek, against the current. Their progress mesmerized him until the next train whistle began to moan. The whistle called to the train idling inside him and forced him to rise. The shadow above the creek was moving. It might be Marlaina, but he couldn’t be sure. Something about the rhythm of its movement seemed familiar, like the chorus of a song he thought he knew. He thundered across the bridge towards it. The sounds of Marlaina were becoming clear.
Rusty watched the screen door bang closed as Marlaina and Bart disappeared inside. “Charitable son-of-a-bitch,” he thought. “Probably show up at the fire station next. Then the Masons.” He was reaching for a socket wrench when another train whistle began to groan.
Encased in dim of the house, Marlaina marveled that the screen door had any bang left to give. It remembered exactly what it was supposed to do. The noise ricocheted, bouncing from room to room, a hollow echo against naked walls, bare floors. She and Zeke had stripped the house down to its bones before they realized they didn’t know where to go from there. Zeke had been an artist, a painter. On the living room wall he had sketched the outline of a train. Inside the heavy black border a watercolor collage of Marlaina’s features strained against the lines.
Late into the night while Zeke painted, Marlaina bartended at Petey’s, listened to stories, watched the town breathe. No-name semis, like the one that brought Zeke years ago, rolled into the empty lot across from the bar. The drivers sucked down a few beers, and bedded down for awhile. Few saw them lumber in, few saw them leave.
Bart reclined on a second-hand couch beneath the flowing collage of Marlaina, waiting for the flesh and blood Marlaina to tell him what to do. She drank him in as she thought, “You’re the only thing in this place that didn’t come here used.” Everything except Zeke. He had been new when the semi brought him into town, very, very new, a gift from the gods of semi truck drivers, who needed a place to disengage from unexpected kin.
Pieces of Zeke inhabited Bart’s frame. He was wiry and tightly wound Marlaina wondered how long it would take him to make his move. Bart had been helping her out all summer. Next week she would be back at Petey’s, watching, listening, drinking other people in.
She remembered that first summer with Zeke. They were 14, scooping crawdads from beneath the rocks in the creek. The trains thundered overhead. She swung an old tin bucket with a crumpled dent in its side. The creek slipped slowly under the trains, the water flirting on the edge of being warm. Marlaina sank into the concave side of a crescent-shaped sandbank that was breaking the current in two. She let the water swirl around her legs and waited for Zeke to come to her.
Afterwards she leaned against the cool limestone walls beneath the trestle. Zeke climbed above her and crawled inside the iron framework beneath the train. And then his body unfolded, hanging down from the girders. His skin was pulled taut against his ribs. He looked like Jesus, hanging that way, but real. And then he was beside her again and she was soaking him in.
“Penny for your thoughts,” she heard him say.
She was not thinking of Zeke, or the sex. It had been over quickly, before she had time to begin, a weak, meandering current of skin on skin. She was thinking of her grandparents; the changing contents of her dented tin pail, strawberries, pine cones, slushy snow, mail collected from the box at the end of the sparkling black cinder driveway; the cinders embedded in a blue-black tattoo across her father’s knees; the boy who had taught her to glide across the cinders on her bike and forget about her legs; her grandmother’s foot reaching out and stroking her grandfather’s calf beneath the kitchen table, even though they slept in different rooms.Marlaina studied Zeke’s face for a moment before she picked up the tin bucket, waded into the creek, and set the crawdads free. His face reflected nothing deeper than their tame farmland stream. She could drown him in seconds with words, a rash movement of her tongue. “No, I don’t think so,” she said, returning to the stream bank, water running down her legs, burrowing its way deep under the silt, through the dry ground below and into the water table, where it sank to the bottom and stayed. Zeke did not press her. He pulled on his shorts and tucked himself in.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
I’ve moved through Crush, past Star Dust, and into Platte River. Amazon loves me lately.
Birds – one American Goldfinch. Common, but gorgeous. The bird feeder also attracts George Cooney, a bunch of mad, tail-shaking squirrels, and towards dusk a herd of rabbits (believe me, that’s what they are.) Everything is getting so tame I imagine one day I will walk out into the yard and the animals will roll over on their backs and demand that I rub their bellies. Stranger things have happened.
Other wildlife – S. announced his house is haunted, and the ghost keeps shaking his bed. S. is taking it all well. He moves to the couch when needed. It’s not exactly a live and let live philosophy, but something along those lines. I’m taking the same approach to the bumble bee nest I uncovered off my patio. Who wants to get in the way of the pollinators, the builders? They’ve gotta do their thing. So I’m stepping around them and so far so good. No stings.
Monday, June 11, 2007
Saturday, June 09, 2007
Thursday, June 07, 2007
The green frog made his first appearance for the season in my backyard pond last Friday. He is banjoing away, but so far has only attracted Pearl cat.
The robin is still sitting on her nest, despite winds that are swaying the tree. I wish I could do something for her, but she chose that tree.
Bird watching - one heron down by Baugo Creek.
More nature - two muskrats in the creek and some sort of small rodent-like critter rolling incoherently on the path. I tried to talk him into straightening up and running off into the woods, but he was not going for it. I said okay, but the woods is much safer for rolling around in than the path, you might get stepped on, but no one listens to me.
Picked up Gene from the airport around midnight. The interviews went well. However, whoever invented traffic circles, and then decided to put them by the airport, should be sent straight to hell. I did get in a practice run on Saturday in the daylight when I dropped him off, so I didn't screw up, but I still don't like them.
Paths - got lost in the woods, briefly, by straying from the stream, getting turned around, disoriented. Once I found my way, however, I looked around and memorized a few important trees. Amazingly enough there are a few paths I still haven't checked out in my tiny little woods.
Pears - frosted, gone, zilch. Sour cherries, ripe and ready in a week. Gene is depressed, loves pears, hates sour cherries.
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Blood still wet on the lintels,
the house slowly burns away.
Bare feet covered in ashes;
spirit perched in forest eaves.
There is never enough time to tell you
precisely what I mean. No, there is never enough place,
or no, I don’t know what I mean. Take this spark,
this child, you probably should have been. I am sifting
through the aroma of burned, charred remains,
the tattered fabric of genesis melded
dark beneath your skin. I have watched your hand slip inside
your collar countless days. Tell me what it means.
Do these clothes chafe you? Or does your skin
need reaffirmation every day?
Snags of trees moored like ghost ships
along a farmland stream.
You strike the match and light the lantern. There is a sound
like a rush of flames.
Sunday, June 03, 2007
Saturday, June 02, 2007
Friday, June 01, 2007
The humanoid starts out in a normal driving position.
The occupant wants to continue going along at the speed and the trajectory that he was going until he gets redirected somehow by the structures of the vehicle.
The ejection is certainly a process. It's not an instantaneous, you're all the way in and then you're all the way out.
Okay. There's no teleporation that we know of, right?
Right. Moving in this up and out kind of scenario.
Once he separates from the vehicle, he's going to travel in a trajectory that's well defined.
The launch angle that he gets and the initial velocity and then the force – the acceleration due to gravity.
He's going to follow an arc?
He will follow a parabolic trajectory and it will be tangent to the path of travel of the vehicle.
The fact that he was able to observe the ejection certainly suggests that there was a launching going on.
Somewhere between two‑and‑one‑quarter and a two‑and‑a‑half there's a separation between the passenger and the vehicle and he goes on this trajectory.
The door was still there during that time of the roll sequence.
Did you see dicing injuries, injuries consistent with glass, consistent with him leaving through the window portal?
Evidence of a likely partial ejection kind of phenomenon, injuries sort of immediately prior to the complete ejection.
There were some attempts at respiration going on. It doesn't appear that he actually expired inside the vehicle.
His heart was still pumping?
I do not know.
You would expect to see blood somewhere.
There's nothing that I would point to in a photograph and say, look, right there, that's his ribs or something like that.
A body can certainly leave a deformation.
The place where I would expect to see the marks is going to be at the belt line.
His body has an inertia that wants to resist the rolling of this vehicle, and the thing that's going to make him roll with the vehicle and ultimately launch him out is that he's hung up on that belt line area.
He's not restrained, correct?
Okay. So he's up against the door in your opinion, correct?